Downie and McGann to Star in McGuinness' New Version of Helen at Shakespeare's Globe

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16 Jun 2009

Penny Downie, last seen on the London stage as Gertrude in the RSC's Hamlet opposite David Tennant, will play the title role in Frank McGuinness' new version of Euripides' Helen, which begins performances at Shakespeare's Globe Aug. 2 (prior to an official opening Aug. 5) for a run to Aug. 23.



She will be joined onstage by Paul McGann, who starred in the National's production of Mourning Becomes Electra opposite Helen Mirren in 2003, as Menelaus. The cast will also include Holly Atkins, Philip Cumbus, Jack Farthing, Diveen Henry, James Lailey, Penny Layden, Fergal McElherron, Rawiri Paratene, William Purefoy, Ian Redford, Ukweli Roach, Tom Stuart, Graham Vick and Andrew Vincent.

The production, which is being directed by Deborah Bruce and features music by Claire van Kampen and design by Gideon Davey, is the Globe's first excursion into full-scale Greek drama, and continues artistic director Dominic Dromgoole's commitment to new writing. McGuinness recently also provided a new version of Oedipus for the National; his original plays include Someone Who'll Watch Over Me and Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, the latter of which is currently being revived at Hampstead Theatre (running June 18-July 18).

Downie, a veteran of the RSC and National Theatre, has also appeared in The Penelopiad for the RSC and Dinner (National Theatre, then transferred to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre). She has also appeared as Lady Anne in Richard III opposite Antony Sher, and Hermione and Perdita in The Winter's Tale. TV credits include appearances in "Minder," "Inspector Morse," "Kavanagh QC," "The Cazalets," "The Inspector Lynley Mysteries," "Spooks," "Trial and Retribution," "New Street Law," "Poirot," "Lost for Words" and "New Tricks."

McGann is best known for his appearances in the BBC series "The Monocled Mutineer," the film "Withnail and I" (in which he played the eponymous "I") and as the eighth Doctor in the "Doctor Who" TV movie, aired in 1996.

Director Deborah Bruce's previous credits include Scarborough (seen at the Edinburgh Fringe, where it won a Fringe First Award, and subsequently at the Royal Court's Theatre Upstairs), Geoff Dead: Disco for Sale (Live Thetre, Newcastle), Blame (London's Arcola), The Unexpected Man and In Praise of Love (Bath Theatre Royal and tour), Musik and Making Noise Quietly (Oxford Stage Company) and Made of Stone (Royal Court Theatre).

To book tickets, contact the box office at 020 7401 9919 or 020 7087 7398 or visit www.shakespeares-globe.org.