The new production scheduled for May 8-24 will also renew a long-standing association for the actress and playwright with both each other and this theatre.
As Hancock notes in a press statement, "I first met Harold when we worked together in weekly repertory in 1956-57. I remember seeing The Birthday Party at the Lyric in 1958 — one of the few people who did — and being astounded that my fellow actor was a brilliant writer. In 1959 I appeared in a revue at the Lyric Hammersmith called One to Another in which my best role was that of a lady tramp in a sketch with Beryl Reid — by Harold Pinter. I did it at the Lyric again in 1997 this time with Dawn French. It is a great joy for me to be reunited with Harold and to be returning to The Lyric Hammersmith."
Hancock was most recently seen on the London stage when she won a Laurence Olivier Award for her role in the current revival of Cabaret at the Lyric Hammersmith, in which she played Fraulein Schneider. Other leading roles in musicals have included playing Miss Hannigan in Annie and Mrs. Lovett in the original 1980 production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
For the Pinter, she will be joined by a cast that includes Nicholas Woodeson (currently starring in Legal Fictions at the Savoy, and who previously appeared in Sam Mendes' National Theatre revival of The Birthday Party and Pinter's The Homecoming, directed by Peter Hall at the West End's Comedy Theatre), Lloyd Hutchinson (who has appeared alongside Pinter in his play One for the Road in New York in 2001, and whose recent credits include Rhinoceros at the Royal Court), Justin Salinger and Alan Williams.
The Lyric's artistic director David Farr is working closely with Pinter on this production, and said in a press statement, "When I suggested to Harold Pinter the idea of celebrating the anniversary, I was struck by his enthusiasm for the idea, and by his vivid memories of the fate of the original production. The Lyric has a proud history of theatrical risk-taking and Pinter's The Birthday Party stands as a significant part of that tradition I am thrilled that Sheila Hancock is leading such a wonderful cast of actors to join Harold and me on this journey. Sheila is a Lyric legend and we are thrilled to have her back." To book tickets, contact the box office at 0871 22 117 22, or for more details, visit www.lyric.co.uk.