Harold Pinter's Ashes to Ashes will finally receive its American premiere, starting Jan. 19, 1999 for a mid-February opening. According to Theatrical Index, the show will star Lindsay Duncan (of the original London cast) and David Strathairn (Hapgood, Eyes For Consuela). A Roundabout spokesperson could not confirm the dates or casting (as of Nov. 11).
Rehearsals for the production, under the auspices of the Roundabout but to be staged at the Gramercy Theatre on East 23rd Street, reportedly begin Dec. 28. There has been no official news on plans for the Gramercy's current tenant, Dinah Was.
The path to New York has been a long one for Ashes. The play opened at London's Royal Court Theatre in September of 1996 with Pinter directing, and Stephen Rea (Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, "The Crying Game") co-starring with Duncan. Delays first came over whether or not Pinter would direct the NY production. Then rumors were flying that Roundabout was seeking Miranda Richardson for the Duncan role. Scheduling conflicts for individuals involved with the original production pushed the NY date back further and further.
However, the show was confirmed by a Roundabout spokesperson as being on the Laura Pels schedule for early 1999. More questions remained when the Pels season appeared to be overbooked -- due to the currently running Beth Henley play, Impossible Marriage, Paula Vogel's Mineola Twins, and Richard Greenberg's Hurrah at Last, all slated for the 1998-99 season.
Twins had originally been slated for the Laura Pels, but when the season brochure was released it was marked for a "venue to be determined." Speculation is that Vogel winning last year's Pulitzer, and the ability to snag a "name" star in Swoosie Kurtz, gave Mineola the edge over Ashes. Ashes is a two character play about a faltering marriage, which takes place in a university town outside of London.
Pinter's plays are known for taking everyday situations and imbuing them with an air of mystery and menace. His plays often feature characters with ambiguous, unexplained backgrounds and/or motivations. Pinter is the author of such classic twentieth century plays as The Dumb Waiter, Betrayal, The Birthday Party, The Homecoming, The Caretaker, and Old Times.
Roundabout also had the New York premiere of the last new Pinter play to hit the States in 1995, with Moonlight, starring Jason Robards and Blythe Danner. Karel Reisz, who directed the Roundabout Moonlight, is slated to direct Ashes.
Harold Pinter's Ashes to Ashes will begin previews at the Gramercy Arts Theatre Jan. 19, for a mid February opening.
-- By Sean McGrath