Jean Stapleton and Art Malik top the cast of the American premiere of Tom Stoppard's Indian Ink, beginning previews Feb. 18 in a staging by San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre at the Geary Theatre.
Stoppard's West End play, in which Malik ("The Jewel in the Crown," "A Passage to India") starred, concerns the dual stories of a sick English poet (Susan Gibney) who has "a complex relationship" with an Indian artist (Malik) in 1930 India, and the American scholar (Ken Grantham) who is researching her story with the help of her sister (Stapleton, of Broadway's Arsenic and Old Lace and TV's "All in the Family").
Critics have noted the play's similarity to Stoppard's Arcadia, which has present-day scholars plumbing the past for elusive truths.
Official opening is Feb. 24, following previews. Performances continue to March 21.
Director Carey Perloff, ACT's artistic director, stages the production with a cast that includes Pakistan-born British actor Malik (making his American stage debut), David Conrad, Anil Kumar, Steven Anthony Jones, Firdous Bamji, Kathryn Crosby, Shelly Desai, Tom Blair, Brian Keith Russell, Roxanne Raja, Dileep Rao, Christopher Rydman, Amir Talai, Adriana Sevan and Adam Suleman. Designers are Loy Arcenas (set), Walker Hicklin (costumes), Frances Aronson (lighting) and Garth Hemphill (sound). The production's composer is Michael Roth.
Tickets are $11-$55. There will be a pay-what-you-can performance Feb. 25. The Geary is at 415 Geary Street. Call (415) 749-2228.
British playwright Stoppard is best known for his witty time-and-place bending comedies including Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Jumpers, Travesties and Arcadia.
ACT's website is www.act-sfbay.org.
Post-Ink, the ACT season follows:
* Eugene O'Neill's drama Long Day's Journey Into Night (Apr. 1-May 2).
* The world premiere musical, The First Picture Show, with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Ain Gordon and David Gordon (May 6-June 6).
* Moliere's comedy of hypocrisy, Tartuffe (June 17-July 18).
-- By Kenneth Jones
and Christine Ehren