By Mark Shenton
30 Aug 2008
The 75-minute play, created last year by Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor to celebrate the cartoon strip's 20th anniversary since it was first launched in a now-defunct London paper in 1987, originally premiered at the Arts Theatre. It features Robert Bathurst in the title role, with digital projections that allow him to interact onstage with Peattie's animations of characters from his world, including his sidekick Clive, boss Rupert, graduate trainees, bibulous journalists, shady financial PR men and free-loading industrialists.
The play follows the character Alex as he finds it increasingly difficult to juggle his job, his marriage and his social life as crises hits all three and threatens to ruin him. He's in trouble with his long-suffering wife Penny, who has finally turned the tables on him. The business fortunes of his client, Mr. Hardcastle, drastically unravel, and Alex is to blame. Meanwhile, the scams and schemings which Alex has made his way of life over the years are about to be revealed by a mole in his department. Alex faces abject humiliation unless he can stitch up his rivals first.
The international tour will take the show to Melbourne on Sept. 10, Sydney on Sept. 19 and 20, Hong Kong on Sept. 24-25, and Singapore on Oct. 2-3. In the U.K., it will visit Easbourne's Devonshire Park Theatre (Oct. 21-25), Windsor's Theatre Royal (Oct. 27-Nov. 1), Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud (Nov. 4-8), Northampton's Royal Theatre (Nov. 10-15) and Colchester's Mercury Theatre (Nov. 17-22). It will then come to London's Leicester Square Theatre, for a run from Nov. 25 to Dec. 20 (with an official opening Nov. 27).
In the character's 20-year history – first in the pages of the London Daily News, then the Independent and (since 1992) the Daily Telegraph, Alex has become an institution in the City's Square Mile. According to press materials, he has more worryingly become a role model by which some bankers play out their careers and lives. Alex has also built up a dedicated fan base overseas where his adventures can be followed in newspapers in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Holland, China and the Middle East.
Alex is directed by Phelim McDermott, artistic director of Improbable Theatre who co-directed their Olivier Award- winning production of Shockheaded Peter and Theatre of Blood for the National Theatre in 2005. In 2007 he directed Philip Glass' opera Satyagraha: MK Gandhi for English National Opera at the London Coliseum, subsequently restaging it at New York's Metropolitan Opera House. He is currently working on a stage musical version of The Addams Family for a projected Broadway opening in 2009-2010.
For tickets for the London season, contact the box office at 0844 847 24 75 or visit www.alexcartoon.com.