What do Minnie Driver, Jude Law, John Hurt, Tara Fitzgerald and Ralph Fiennes all have in common? Answer: They're all five British film stars planning stage runs in London over the coming months.
Fiennes and Fitzgerald effectively kicked off the trend of movie stars accepting massive pay cuts to appear on the London stage, often in fringe productions (where the Equity standard is £250 per week), when they appeared in Jonathan Kent's production of Hamlet at the Hackney Empire in 1995. Since then, the trickle has turned into a flood with Nicole Kidman, Kevin Spacey, Juliet Binoche, Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason and Olympia Dukakis all having a go.
But while several of those actors opted for newer productions, the current crop of stars seems to be attracted largely to the classics and Shakespeare in particular. Driver, star of films such as "Good Will Hunting" and "Circle of Friends," will take her first major theatre role in Sir Peter Hall's production of Romeo and Juliet which is due to have a brief fun at Norwich's Theatre Royal in February 2000 before a transfer to the West End. And Fiennes, nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of a Nazi officer in "Schindler's List," will be returning to familiar Shakespeare territory with Richard II and Coriolanus which will open first in London (though not, it is rumored, at a traditional theatrical venue) and then tour throughout the UK. Dates and venues on the tour have yet to be confirmed.
Jude Law, whose film credits include "Wilde" and "eXistenZ," will star in John Ford's 1631 play 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. The Jacobean tragedy, which tells the tale of an ill-fated brother and sister consumed by incestuous passion, opens at the Young Vic in October. And Fitzgerald, who starred on screen in "Hear My Song," "Brassed Off" and "Sirens," casts even further back in history for her classic. She will be starring in Sophocles' Antigone, directed by former Cheek by Jowl artistic director Declan Donnellan. The Greek tragedy opens at the Old Vic, also in October.
Meanwhile, John Hurt, whose many screen credits include "Life and Death in Long Island," "Rob Roy" and "The Elephant Man," has chosen a more modern classic. He will star in Samuel Beckett's 1958 one-man show, Krapp's Last Tape, as part of the Beckett Festival at the Barbican Centre next month. -- By Terri Paddock
What's On Stage, London