Gambon and Jennings to Star in New Bennett Play The Habit of Art

News   Gambon and Jennings to Star in New Bennett Play The Habit of Art Michael Gambon and Alex Jennings will play WH Auden and Benjamin Britten, respectively, in the world premiere of Alan Bennett's new play, provisionally titled The Habit of Art, which is due to receive its premiere at the National's Lyttelton Theatre in November.

According to a report in London's Daily Mail, Frances de la Tour (who was in the National's production of Bennett's The History Boys, and subsequently reprised her performance on Broadway) and Adrian Scarborough (who was in the film version of that play) have also been cast. The play will be directed by the National's artistic director, Nicholas Hytner, who has previously directed Bennett's version of The Wind in the Willows, The Madness of George III and The History Boys at the National and The Lady in the Van in the West End.

The play is based on an entirely fictional meeting that takes place when poet Auden and composer Britten are respectively aged 70 and late 50s, when Auden was living in Oxford in the early 1960s before he died. In fact, though the two had collaborated on several works earlier in their careers – which included Auden writing the libretto for Britten's operetta Paul Bunyan and the song cycle "Our Hunting Fathers" – their relationship came to an uneasy end and they had not spoken since the mid-1940s.

Dates and further production details are still to be announced.