Almeida Theatre's 2012 Season to Include Jonathan Pryce as King Lear and Samantha Spiro as Filumena

News   Almeida Theatre's 2012 Season to Include Jonathan Pryce as King Lear and Samantha Spiro as Filumena
London's Almeida Theatre has announced details of four productions to be staged between January and November 2012, including Jonathan Pryce returning to Shakespeare to play the title role in King Lear and Olivier-winning actress Samantha Spiro to play the title role in a new English version of Eduardo de Filippo's Filumena.

Jonathan Pryce
Jonathan Pryce Photo by Aubrey Reuben

There will also be a new production of Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, relocated to Iran, with leading Iranian stage and screen actor Shohreh Aghdashlo making her British stage debut as Bernarda Alba, and the world premiere of Matthew Dunster's Children's Children.

The season opens with The House of Bernarda Alba, beginning performances Jan. 19, 2012, prior to an official opening Jan. 26, for a run through March 10. Presented in a new version by Emily Mann, it is directed by Bijan Sheibani.

In this new version, relocated to Iran, power matriarch Bernarda Alba decrees to her five daughters in rural Iran that the household will enter a period of eight years of mourning. The only one it seems will escape this fate is the eldest daughter, Angustias, who is already betrothed to the village's most eligible bachelor. In the strict confines of the house, jealousy and suppressed sexuality rise to the surface. As Bernada’s oppression of her daughters increases it is more than the girls' liberty that is in danger.

Shohreh Aghdashlo, who plays Bernarda Alba, won the 2009 Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a mini-series or movie fore playing Sajida in "The House of Saddam" for BBC/HBO. She was named Best Supporting Actress by the Independent Spirit Awards, the New York Film Critics, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for her role in "House of Sand and Fog." Other film credits include "The Stoning of Soraya M," "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2," "The Nativity Story," "The Lake House" and "X-Men: The Last Stand." She has made regular guest appearances on "24," "ER" and "Will & Grace."

Next, Almeida artistic director Michael Attenborough directs Samantha Spiro in the title role of Eduardo de Filippo's Filumena, beginning performances March 15 prior to an official opening March 22, for a run through May 12. Presented in a new version by Tanya Ronder, the play is set in late 1940s Naples, and revolves around Filumena Marturano, who lies on her deathbed waiting to marry Domenico Soriano, the man who has kept her as his mistress for 25 years. But no sooner has the priest completed the ceremony, than Filumena makes a miraculous recovery. As he reels in shock, Domenico discovers that this brilliant, iron-willed woman has a few more surprises for him. Samantha Spiro makes her Almeida Theatre debut to play the title role. Last seen on the London stage in Chicken Soup with Barley at the Royal Court, other theatre credits include Hello, Dolly!, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Lady Be Good, Macbeth and The Boys from Syracuse (all for Regent's Park Open Air Theatre), Twelfth Night for the Donmar Warehouse at Wyndham's Theatre, Funny Girl for Chichester Festival Theatre and Two Thousand Years and Cleo, Camping, Emanuelle and Dick for the National Theatre.

It is followed by the world premiere of Matthew Dunster's Children's Children, beginning performances May 17 prior to an official opening May 24, for a run through June 30. It is directed by Jeremy Herrin, associate director of the Royal Court, where in December he will direct the premiere of Joe Penhall's Haunted Children, and who is soon to be represented in the West End by his new production of Death and the Maiden at the re-named Harold Pinter Theatre. He is making his Almeida Theatre directing debut with this play, which revolves around Michael and Gordon, who have been best friends since acting college. Now, 20 years later, Michael is Mr. Saturday Night TV but failing actor Gordon is struggling with enormous debts. Meanwhile, Gordon's daughter Effie couldn't care less about her Dad's problems – she is far more interested in the film that her cool boyfriend is making and setting up an ecologically sound clothing label. When Gordon asks Michael to lend him a large sum of money it sets in motion a series of events that reveal irreparable cracks in the characters' relationships.

Finally, Michael Attenborough directs Jonathan Pryce in the title role of King Lear, beginning performances Aug. 31 prior to an official opening Sept. 11, for a run through Nov. 3. It is presented as part of the World Shakespeare Festival that has already been announced. Pryce was last seen at the Almeida in the British premiere of Edward Albee's The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? that subsequently transferred to the West End's Apollo Theatre. He won the 1991 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for reprising the role of the Engineer in the original production of Miss Saigon that he has originated in the West End. More recently, he was seen on Broadway, taking over from John Lithgow in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He was last seen in the West End in a revival of Pinter's The Caretaker that transferred from Liverpool's Everyman Theatre. His film and television work includes "Cranford," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Evita," "Brazil" and "Carrington."

Priority booking begins Oct. 3, with public booking from Oct. 24. Booking for King Lear will initially only be for performances from Aug. 31-Sept. 15, with booking for subsequent performances to open later. To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7359 4404, or visit

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