London's Barbican Theatre is to offer a four-play residency to Dutch company Toneelgroep Amsterdam and its director Ivo van Hove, currently represented on Broadway by his production of The Crucible at the Walter Kerr and whose London production of another Arthur Miller play, A View from a Bridge, also transferred to Broadway earlier in the season.
Centrepiece of the season will be the world premiere of Obsession, based on the 1943 film by Luchino Visconti, that will begin performances April 19 prior to an official opening April 25 for a run through May 20. It will star Jude Law as the the magnetically handsome, down-at-heel drifter Gino, who encounters Giuseppe and his much younger, trapped wife Giovanna at their roadside restaurant and petrol station. He and Giovanna are so irresistibly attracted to one another they begin an affair while plotting to murder her husband. But the crime does not unite them in this story where passion can lead only to destruction.
The play is van Hove's fourth production based on a Visconti film. It is performed in English and brings together for the first time members of the Toneelgroep Amsterdam ensemble and British actors, led by Law. It is co-produced by the Barbican and Toneelgroep Amsterdam, co-commissioned by Wiener Festwochen and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg and co-produced by Holland Festival. Following the Barbican run, the production tours to Vienna, Amsterdam (as part of the Holland Festival) and Luxembourg.
In a press statement, van Hove comments, "It's very exciting to bring British actors and specifically Jude Law together with actors from our Toneelgroep Amsterdam ensemble for the first time. Obsession is a raw and timeless tale about idealised love and its fleeting nature. Major themes that resonate for all time which I am looking forward to staging at the Barbican, a venue I consider to be our London home."
Law adds, "I'd heard great things about Ivo van Hove and when I saw A View from the Bridge at the Young Vic and then Antigone at the Barbican I knew he was someone I really wanted to have the opportunity to work with. And now I can't wait to return to the Barbican, where I performed 22 years ago with the RSC, to take on the role of Gino, immortalised in the 1943 classic, Ossessione by Luchino Visconti, whose films I adore."
Obsession is preceded by the return of Roman Tragedies the month before and followed later in the year by a double bill, After the Rehearsal/Persona, based on the films by Ingmar Bergman.
Roman Tragedies, which will begin performances March 17 for a run to March 19, was previously presented at the Barbican in 2009. It merges Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra into one tautly edited, flowing six-hour performance that uses multiple screens to relay non-stop media coverage. It is performed in Dutch with English surtitles.
After the Rehearsal and Persona begin performances September 27 for a run through September 30, re-imagining two Ingmar Bergman screenplays for the stage in a double bill about the chaotic lives of theatre people, exposing the fine line between art and reality, illness and normality. After the Rehearsal revolves around Hendrik Vogler, a director obsessed by his work, for whom rehearsals are like notes in his diary, performances his autobiography. Everything is subject to his control, yet it soon becomes apparent that life cannot be kept at bay when ex-lover Rachel, and Anna, her daughter and his current star, breach his sanctum.
In Persona, celebrated actress Elisabeth Vogler falls mute and retreats into silence. It's as though a short circuit has occurred, calling into question the roles she must play. She is cared for in hospital by nurse Alma, who then accompanies her to an island summerhouse in an attempt to coax her into speaking again. After the Rehearsal/Persona is performed in Dutch with English surtitles.
In addition to Roman Tragedies, the Barbican has also previously presented van Hove's productions of Antonioni Project (2011), Scenes from a Marriage (2013), Antigone (2015) and Kings of War (2016). Later this year van Hove will also direct a new production of Hedda Gabler at London's National Theatre.
To book tickets, contact the box office on 0845 120 7511 or visit theatre.barbican.org.uk.