Academy Award nominee Emily Watson heads the casts of both productions, which will play in repertory at the famed intimate theatre. Chekhov's Vanya begins performances Sept. 5, and runs through Nov. 20, while Shakespeare's Night plays Oct. 11-Nov. 30. The productions represent Mendes' swan song at the Donmar, which he founded.
Joining Watson — who will play Sonya — in the Vanya company are David Bradley (Serebryakov), Selina Cadell (Marya), Luke Jardine (Yefim), Paul Jesson, Helen McCrory (Elena), Cherry Morris (Marina), Anthony O'Donnell (Telegin), Simon Russell Beale (Vanya), Gary Powell, Gyuri Sárossy (Petrushka) and Mark Strong (Astrov).
Playwright Brian Friel, author of Translations and Philadelphia, Here I Come!, has written the adaptation of the Chekhov classic, which will be directed by Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes. The remainder of the creative team comprises Anthony Ward (set design), Mark Thompson (costume design), Hugh Vanstone (lighting design), George Stiles (music) and Paul Arditti (sound design). Mendes will also helm the production of Twelfth Night, which features both the same design team and the same company of actors. The roles have been assigned as follows: David Bradley as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Selina Cadell as Maria, Luke Jardine as Fabian, Paul Jesson as Sir Toby Belch, Helen McCrory as Olivia, Cherry Morris as Valentine, Anthony O’Donnell as Feste, Simon Russell Beale as Malvolio, Gary Powell as Antonio/Sea Captain, Gyuri Sárossy as Sebastian/Curio, Mark Strong as Orsino and Emily Watson as Viola.
* Born in London, England, Watson spent two years at the British Shakespeare School of Acting. Her film debut in "Breaking the Waves" earned the actress an Academy Award nomination as did her role opposite Rachel Griffiths in "Hilary and Jackie." Watson has also been seen in "Angela's Ashes," "The Luzhin Defence" and this season's "Gosford Park."
The mountings of Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night mark Sam Mendes' final productions as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, which is located at 41 Earlham Street in London. Mendes directed Hollywood's "Road to Perdition," which gets released in the U.S. July 12. The telephone number for the theatre's box office is 011 44 20 7369 1732; go to www.donmar warehouse.com for more information.
—By Andrew Gans