So much hoopla has arisen over Trevor Nunn's announcement that the National Theatre will stage a "lost" early Tennessee Williams play, Not About Nightingales, in March 1998, the rest of the National season has gone relatively unheralded, even though such names as Ian McKellen, Sinead Cusack, Tom Stoppard and John Wood already dot the landscape.
Here's the current line-up for the 1997-98 season:
CHIPS WITH EVERYTHING. Howard Davies directs Arnold Wesker's play. (Opens Sept. 4 at the Lyttelton Theatre.)
AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE. Trevor Nunn directs Henrik Ibsen's drama, adapted by Christopher Hampton. Ian McKellen will play a doctor destroyed by the town he tries to protect. Designing the show will be John Napier, with costumes by John Bright and lighting by David Hersey. (Prev: Sept. 12; opens Sept. 19; Ends Nov. 1997 at the Olivier Theatre.)
LES FAUSSES CONFIDENCES. Jean-Pierre Miquel, of the Comedie Francaise, directs this Marivaux comedy, with costumes by Renato Bianchi, sets & lgithing by Miquel, and music by Francois Tusques. Part of the UK-wide "French Theatre Season," Confidences marks the first trip to England by the Comedie-Francais since 1973. (Runs Sept. 30-Oct. 4 at Lyttelton Theatre.) THE INVENTION OF LOVE. Richard Eyre directs the world premiere of Tom Stoppard's latest, starring Paul Rhys & John Wood. (Opens Oct. 1 at Cottesloe Theatre.)
Eyre is the outgoing artistic director of the National, with Nunn taking over Oct. 2. Previous Stoppard works include The Real Thing and Arcadia.
THEATRE STORIES solo for Ken Campbell. (Prev: Oct. 16; opens: Oct. 17 for seven more performances at the Cottesloe Theatre.)
OTHELLO. Sam Mendes directs William Shakespeare's tragedy, starring David Harewood as the jealous Moor. The show, co-produced by the Salzburg Festival (and playing there Aug. 22-25) opens Sept. 16 at the Cottesloe Theatre. After the National production, the show will tour the Pacific Rim and U.S.
MUTABILITIE. Trevor Nunn directs Frank McGuinness' drama, starring Aisling O'Sullivan. Monica Frawley will design the sets. (Prev: Nov. 14; opens Nov. 20 at the Cottesloe Theatre.)
PRIVATE LIVES. Deborah Warner directs Noel Coward's comedy. (Prev: Nov. 21; opens Nov. 27 at the Lyttelton)
OH LES BEAUX JOURS. Peter Brook directs Samuel Beckett's play in a French language production (part of "the French Theatre Season"). Natasha Parry and Jean-Claude Perrin star in the production, which premiered at the 1996 Festival d'Automne. Chloe Obolensky designed the sets. (Runs Nov. 27-Dec. 6 at the Riverside Studios.)
PETER PAN. John Caird directs J.M. Barrie's fantasy, newly adapted by Caird and Nunn. McKellen will play Mr. Darling/Captain Hook. Designing Pan are John Napier (set), Andy Neofitou (costumes), and David Hersey (lighting). Scoring wil be by Stephen Oliver. All proceeds from the production go to Great Ormond Street Hospital For Children. (Prev: Dec. 18; opens Dec. 16 at the Olivier Theatre.)
THE DAY I STOOD STILL. New play by Kevin Elyot. (Prev: Jan. 15, 1998; opens Jan. 22, 1998 at the Cottesloe Theatre.)
FLIGHT. Howard Davies directs Mikhail Bulgakov's drama, adapted by Ron Hutchinson. (Prev: Jan. 29, 1998; opens Feb. 5, 1998 at the Olivier Theatre.)
THE LONDON CUCKOLDS. Terry Johnson adapts and directs Edward Ravenscroft's comedy. (Prev: Feb. 13, 1998; opens Feb. 19, 1998 at the Lyttelton Theatre.)
NOT ABOUT NIGHTINGALES. Trevor Nunn directs Tennessee Williams' 1938-39 drama, in a co-production with Vanessa Redgrave's Moving Theatre and Houston TX's Alley Theatre. (Prev: Feb. 26, 1998; Opens March 5, 1998 at the Cottesloe Theatre.)
The play concerns disturbances at a men's prison, with conflicts among convicts, guards and a sadistic warden. Nunn said in a press conference that "clear indications" of homosexuality in prison may have been the reason the play never received a commercial staging. "It's never been read, it's never been seen, it's never been performed," said Nunn. "The title refers to the kind of rough poetry Williams was intending for the theatre." Other plays by Williams include A Streetcar Named Desire and Camino Real.
OUR LADY OF SLIGO. Max Stafford-Clark directs Sebastian Barry's play, starring Sinead Cusack. (Prev: April 16, 1998; opens April 23, 1998 at the Cottesloe Theatre.)
COPENHAGEN. Michael Blakemore directs Michael Frayn's play. (Prev: May 21, 1998; opens May 28, 1998).
Also on the National program will be a touring production of Oh What A Lovely War, Joan Littlewood's musical satire directed by Fiona Laird. The show, starting March 1998, will tour London and other UK provinces.
Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, directed by Brigid Larmour, will tour schools (Jan.-May 1998) as part of the Shakespeare Unplugged project.
--By David Lefkowitz