Billy Elliot's Haydn Gwynne to Star in Almeida's Becky Shaw; Season Details Announced

News   Billy Elliot's Haydn Gwynne to Star in Almeida's Becky Shaw; Season Details Announced London's Almeida Theatre has announced its plans for the first half of 2011, which will include the British premiere of Gina Gionfriddo's Becky Shaw, seen at Off-Broadway's Second Stage in 2009; the world premiere of David Eldridge's The Knot of the Heart, commissioned by the theatre; and a new production of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, starring Penelope Wilton.

Haydn Gwynne
Haydn Gwynne Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Becky Shaw, which begins performances Jan. 13, 2011, prior to an official opening Jan. 20 for a season to March 5, will see David Wilson Barnes from the original New York cast newly joined by a cast that includes Haydn Gwynne, returning to the London stage for the first time since she originated the role of Mrs. Wilkinson in Billy Elliot both in the West End and on Broadway. Peter DuBois, artistic director of Boston's Huntington Theatre Company, who directed the play's world premiere at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at the Actors Theater of Louisville and subsequently in New York at Second Stage, will direct. The cast will also include Daisy Haggard (in the title role), Anna Madeley and Vincent Montuel.

From the moment that Becky arrives overdressed for her blind date with straight-talking Max Garrett (Barnes), it's clear the evening is unlikely go to plan. In the immediate fallout, Becky becomes an object of devotion for her boss Andrew (Montuel), who appears to have a fetish for vulnerable women. In turn Andrew’s wife Suzanna (Madeley) turns to her step-brother Max for comfort, and their mutual desire begins to resurface.

The Knot of the Heart, which begins performances March 10 prior to an official opening March 17 for a run through April 30, is directed by the Almeida's artistic director, Michael Attenborough. The cast includes Abigail Cruttendon (best known for her TV role in the long-running series "Sharpe and Benidorm"), Lisa Dillon (currently at the Old Vic in Design for Living and next there in A Flea in Her Ear) and Margot Leicester.

Beautiful and privileged, Lucy (Dillon) is enjoying a burgeoning career in television. But her social drug habit has become a serious addiction, casting a dark shadow over her future happiness. As her charmed life begins to slip away Lucy comes to realize that the devoted support of her family does not come without a price.

A Delicate Balance, which begins performances May 5 prior to an official opening May 12 for a run through July 2, is directed by James Macdonald, who has previously directed Judgment Day and The Triumph of Love at the Almeida. He has also directed the premieres of Cock, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You, A Number, Dying City and Blasted. At the National, he has directed Dido Queen of Carthage, The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other and Exiles. Penelope Wilton stars as Agnes, with further casting to be announced. Wilton was last seen on the London stage as Gertrude opposite Jude Law in Hamlet (but replaced for Broadway by Geraldine James),  and was last seen at the Almeida in The Deep Blue Sea that subsequently transferred to the West End. Urban socialites Agnes and Tobias appear to inhabit a glamorous world of drinks parties and social clubs. The return home of their recently divorced daughter, the constant presence of Agnes' alcoholic sister and the impromptu late-night arrival of some close friends, begin to peel away this veneer. As their lives become increasingly claustrophobic, the characters battle with their fear of stepping into the real world, opting instead for the undemanding familiarity of their own drawing room.

Priority booking for Almeida members opens Oct. 18, with public booking from Nov. 5. To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7359 4404, or visit www.almeida.co.uk.

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