Cumberbatch and Brennan to Be Part of Royal Court Season

News   Cumberbatch and Brennan to Be Part of Royal Court Season The Royal Court has announced casting for its productions of Martin Crimp's The City, opening on April 29 (following previews from April 24) in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs; and Olivier Choinière's Bliss, translated by Caryl Churchill, opening on April 2 (following previews from March 28) in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs.

Directed by Katie Mitchell, The City will see the return to the Royal Court of Benedict Cumberbatch, recently seen there in the double-bill of Rhinceros and The Arsonists, and Hattie Morahan, who has previously worked with Mitchell in productions of The Seagull (playing Nina) and Iphigenia at Aulis (as Iphigenia) at the National Theatre.

The cast for Bliss will comprise Brid Brennan (who won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a play for her work in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa), Hayley Carmichael, Neil Dudgeon and Justin Salinger.

The City reunites the playwright Martin Crimp and director Katie Mitchell, who recently collaborated on a revival of his play Attempts on Her life and a version he provided for The Seagull, both at the National. They have also worked together at the Royal Court in bringing his plays The Country and Face to the Wall to the stage. According to press materials, the play is a "darkly comic mystery" in which "three characters fight to make sense of a surreal and collapsing world."

Cumberbatch can currently be seen starring in "The Last Enemy" (BBC TV), and playing opposite Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman in the cinema release of "The Other Boleyn Girl," directed by Justin Chadwick. In 2005 he was nominated for a BAFTA, playing the scientist Stephen Hawking in the BBC television drama "Hawking." Other film and television work has included the Oscar-nominated "Atonement," directed by Joe Wright; "Stuart: A Life Backwards"; "Starter for Ten"; and "Amazing Grace." His other previous stage credits include productions of Ibsen's Lady from the Sea and Hedda Gabler, and Tennessee Williams' Period of Adjustment, all for the Almeida. Morahan was recently seen on TV as Elinor Dashwood in the BBC series "Sense and Sensibility." Her recent film work includes "The Bank Job" (2008) and "The Golden Compass" (2007).

Bliss, which is directed by Joe Hill-Gibbons, is described in press materials as a "wild and slipper fantasy" that "explores our insatiable appetite for private lives made public." Canadian playwright Olivier Choinière is from Montréal, Québec. His plays include Le Bain Des Raines (Bain St Michel), Jocelyne Est En Depression (Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui), Ascension (Mont-Royal), Venise-en-Quebec (Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui) and Bienvenue (Théâtre La Licorne). In 2007 he took part in the Royal Court Theatre's International Residency for Emerging Playwrights. His translator, Caryl Churchill, spent part of her childhood in Montréal. Her first stage play, Owners, was performed in 1972 at the Royal Court Theatre, where almost all her work since has premiered, including Far Away, Mad Forest and Top Girls. Her plays A Number and Serious Money each won the Olivier Award for Best New Play, and Serious Money also won the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy. The Royal Court production of her latest play, Drunk Enough To Say I Love You?, opens at New York's The Public Theater March 5. In addition to her Tony win for Dancing at Lughnasa, Brid Brennan has been nominated for an Olivier Award twice, for her roles in The Little Foxes (Donmar) and Rutherford & Son (National Theatre). She appeared at the Royal Court most recently in Woman and Scarecrow, and before that in Bone and Bailegangaire. Her other stage credits include Brendan at the Chelsea (Riverside Studios), By the Bog of Cats (Wyndhams) and Pillars of the Community (National).

Carmichael is co-founder of Told By An Idiot and has both devised and performed in many of their productions, including Playing The Victim at the Royal Court Theatre. She won the TMA Best Actress Award for her performance in I Weep At My Piano and The Dispute (Lyric Hammersmith/RSC) and Mr. Puntila and His Man Matti (The Right Size/Almeida co-production). She also won the Time Out Best Actress Award for I Weep At My Piano and The Dispute. Her other theatre credits include Cymbeline (Kneehigh/RSC), Theatre of Blood (National Theatre) and The Street of Crocodiles (Complicité/National Theatre).

Dudgeon is currently appearing in the revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming at the Almeida, while his many appearances at the Royal Court include Harold Pinter's Ashes to Ashes and Mountain Language, Blasted, Talking in Tongues, No One Sees The Video and Road. He has also appeared in Yerma and Closer (both at the National Theatre), Miss Julie (Oldham Coliseum) and Richard II (Manchester Royal Exchange). His television credits include "Common as Muck," "Sorted," "The Street" and the role of Duncan Warren in four series of "Messiah" (all BBC).

Salinger's recent theatre credits include King of Hearts (Out of Joint/Hampstead), The Seagull, A Dream Play, The UN Inspector, Pillars of the Community and Iphigenia at Aulis (all National Theatre). At the Royal Court, he has appeared in Food Chain and Under The Blue Sky. On television he played the role of Russell in "The Line of Beauty" (BBC).

The Royal Court is located in Sloane Square, London SW1. For tickets call 020 7565 5000; for more details visit www.royalcourttheatre.com.