Director Burke Withdraws From Almeida Dying for It Due to Illness; Mackmin Takes Over

News   Director Burke Withdraws From Almeida Dying for It Due to Illness; Mackmin Takes Over British director Kathy Burke has withdrawn from the forthcoming Almeida production of Moira Buffini's Dying for It because of ill health.

The north London venue has announced that director Anna Mackmin, who recently made her Almeida debut with Charlotte Jones' The Lightning Play, will take over from Burke.

Mackmin also directed the current revival of Ghosts at London's Gate Theatre and made her National Theatre debut with the triple offering of Burn (by Deborah Gearing), Citizenship(Mark Ravenhill) and Chatroom (Enda Walsh).

Buffini's play is a free adaptation of Nikolai Erdman's 1928 satire The Suicide, which was banned by Stalin. As previously announced, Dying for It opens on March 15 following previews that begin March 8.

The cast features Tom Brooke (The Long and the Short and the Tall), Susan Brown (Road), Charlie Condou (Cracked), Michelle Dockery (Pillars of the Community), Barnaby Kay (Closer), Tony Rohr (The Quare Fellow), Paul Rider (Coriolanus), Sophie Stanton (Market Boy), Ronan Vibert (War and Peace) and Liz White(Plasticine).

In The Suicide, Erdman's hero is the unemployed Semyon (played by Brooke in Buffini's version), who proposes to commit suicide. Hearing of his plan he is inundated with requests from disaffected citizens who demand that he die for their causes. With lines like, "You can’t get a job without influence, and there’s so much work in Russia, there's not enough influence to go round," it is not surprising Stalin's censors took a dim view of the play. It was not seen in the Soviet Union until 1982. The 1980 RSC production featured Roger Rees as Semyon. The previous major London production of a play by Erdman was Declan Donnellan's version of The Mandate (also banned in the USSR) staged by the National Theatre in 2004.

Moira Buffini’s work includes Dinner, which was performed at the National Theatre before transferring to the West End, and Love Play, commissioned by the RSC.

For more on Dying for It, which will play the Almeida until April 28, call (0)20 7359 4404.