London's National Theatre's Spring/Summer Season to Feature Simon Russell Beale, Rory Kinnear, Julie Walters

By Mark Shenton
March 29, 2012

London's National Theatre has confirmed its spring and summer schedule, which will include Simon Russell Beale starring in the title role of Timon of Athens; Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory and Julie Walters starring in the premiere of Stephen Beresford's play The Last of the Haussmans; and a new stage version of Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.



There will also be a new production of Bernard Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma and a return season for London Road, Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork's verbatim musical that premiered at the National last year, reuniting most of the original cast.

The Last of the Haussmans, a new play by actor-turned-debut playwright Stephen Beresford, will begin performances June 12 prior to an official opening June 19 in the Lyttelton Theatre, presented as part of the London 2012 Festival. Howard Davies will direct a cast that includes Rory Kinnear, Matthew Marsh, Helen McCrory and Julie Walters.

According to press materials, the play examines the fate of the revolutionary generation and offers a funny, touching and at times savage portrait of a family full of longing that's losing its grip. In the play, high society drop-out Judy Haussman (Walters), who is anarchic, feisty but growing old, remains in spirit with the Ashrams of the 1960s while holding court in her dilapidated Art Deco house on the Devon Coast. After an operation, she's joined by wayward offspring Nick (Kinnear) and Libby (Helen McCrory), sharp-eyed granddaughter Summer, local doctor Peter (Marsh), and Daniel, a troubled teenager who makes use of the family’s crumbling swimming pool. Together they share a few sweltering months as they alternately cling to and flee this louche and chaotic world of all-day drinking, infatuations, long-held resentments, free love and failure.

Timon of Athens begins performances July 10, prior to an official opening July 17, as part of the National's Travelex £12 Tickets season and as one of the NT's contributions to the World Shakespeare Festival. The National's artistic director Nicholas Hytner directs Simon Russell Beale in the title role, with the cast also including Martin Chamberlain, Jason Cheater, Stavros Demetraki, Paul Dodds, Deborah Findlay, Ciaran McMenamin and Nick Sampson.

According to press materials, Shakespeare's strange fable of conspicuous consumption, debt and ruin was written in collaboration with Thomas Middleton. Wealthy friend to the rich and powerful, patron of the arts, ostentatious host, Timon of Athens showers gifts and hospitality on the city's elite. He vastly outspends his resources but, finding his coffers empty, reassures his loyal steward that all will be well. When he calls upon his erstwhile associates, instead of offering help, they hang him out to dry. After a final, vengeful banquet, Timon withdraws to a literal and emotional wasteland, living off roots and pouring ever more surreal curses on a morally bankrupt Athens.

The Doctor's Dilemma begins performances in the Lyttelton Theatre July 17, prior to an official opening July 24. Nadia Fall directs a cast that includes Tom Burke, Aden Gillett, Paul McLeary, Genevieve O’Reilly and Malcolm Sinclair. George Bernard Shaw's play looks at the dubious ethics of the men who play God. Harley Street doctor Sir Colenso Ridgeon's revolutionary tuberculosis treatment remains experimental and his resources restricted to ten selected patients. The arrival of the striking and persuasive Jennifer Dubedat, desperate to save the life of her brilliant artist husband, nevertheless prompts Ridgeon to invite the young couple to a dinner where he and his colleagues may assess the merits of the case. Beguiled by the charismatic Dubedat and his lovely wife, they concur that his is a life worth saving, even at the expense of another. Yet no sooner are the medics congratulating themselves on their decision, than they are confronted by Dubedat’s questionable morality. Meanwhile, their impoverished colleague Blenkinsop, the most worthy but least exceptional of the lot, reveals himself in dire need of treatment.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, adapted by Simon Stephens from the novel by Mark Haddon, begins performances July 24 prior to an official opening Aug. 2 in the Cottesloe Theatre, as part of the London 2012 Festival. Marianne Elliott, currently represented on Broadway by her co-direction of War Horse, directs a cast that includes Matthew Barker, Niamh Cusack, Maggie Service, Nick Sidi, Una Stubbs, Luke Treadaway, Nicola Walker and Howard Ward. Movement is by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly; Hoggett is currently represented on Broadway by Once. In the play, Christopher, fifteen years old, stands beside Mrs. Shears' dead dog. It has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in a book he is writing to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington. He has an extraordinary brain, exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and he distrusts strangers. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

London Road, originally premiered at the National's Cottesloe in 2011, returns to the larger Olivier Theatre as part of the Travelex £12 Tickets season, beginning performances July 28 and playing in rep through Sept. 6. Directed by Rufus Norris, original cast members returning include Clare Burt, Kate Fleetwood, Hal Fowler, Nick Holder, Claire Moore, Michael Shaeffer, Nicola Sloane, Paul Thornley and Duncan Wisbey. The music theatre piece by Alecky Blythe and composer Adam Cork is based on verbatim interviews. It documents the events of 2006, when the quiet rural town of Ipswich was shattered by the discovery of the bodies of five women. Adam Cork's music uses the melodic speech patterns captured on Alecky Blythe’s recorded interviews with the people of Ipswich to create a work which reveals the ways in which even the darkest experiences can engender a greater sense of our mutual dependence.

The Count of Monte Cristo, adapted by Richard Bean from the classic tale by Alexandre Dumas, begins performances Nov. 17 prior to an official opening Nov. 27 in the Olivier Theatre. It marks the National Theatre directorial debut of Timothy Sheader, artistic director of the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, who is re-staging his Regent's Park production of Into the Woods at Central Park's Delacorte Theater this summer.

In the show, which is billed as suitable for age 10 and above, Edmond Dantes – illiterate young sailor of Marseilles – is drawn into conspiring with the exiled Napoleon and imprisoned for ten years. Incarcerated in a desolate gaol with no-one but a mad monk for company, Dantes begins an unconventional education. As his enemies become more powerful, all hope of justice and of a reunion with his sweetheart appears to be gone. Still, Dantes clings to hope. Eventually, his chance comes: he escapes his prison, adopts a disguise and the Count of Monte Cristo is born.

Public phone/online booking for new productions in the April–September season opens April 18, except booking for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which opens May 4. To book, contact the box office on 020 7452 3000, or visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk.