Hare's Gethsemane Will Bloom at National; Stoppard, Previn, Adamson and Ibsen Announced

News   Hare's Gethsemane Will Bloom at National; Stoppard, Previn, Adamson and Ibsen Announced
The National Theatre has announced a slate of new productions for performances between November and February, including the world premiere of David Hare's latest play Gethsemane, a revival of Tom Stoppard and André Previn's 1977 play for actors and orchestra, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, and Mrs. Affleck, a new play by Samuel Adamson from Ibsen's Little Eyolf.
David Hare
David Hare Photo by David Bailey

In addition, as previously reported on Playbill.com, the Steppenwolf production of Tracy Letts' August: Osage County, will play a season in the Lyttelton Theatre, beginning performances on Nov. 21 prior to an official opening on Nov. 26, for a run to Jan. 21, 2009.

Gethsemane, which will begin performances on Nov. 4 prior to an official opening on Nov. 11 in the Cottesloe Theatre, is Hare's 14th original play for the National. It will continue in rep to Feb. 24, 2009, prior to a U.K. tour. Howard Davies will direct a cast that includes the National Theatre debut of Olivier Award winning actress Tamsin Greig, Anthony Calf, Jessica Raine, Daniel Ryan, Stanley Townsend and Nicola Walker.

The new play is described in press materials as an ensemble play about British public life, looking at the way business, media and politics are now intertwined to nobody's advantage, as, in an unforgiving world, one character after another passes through Gethsemane. Nothing is more important to a modern political party than fund-raising. But the values of the donor can't always coincide with the professed beliefs of the party. And family scandal within the cabinet has the potential to throw both the money-raisers and the money-spenders into chaos.

 Greig was most recently seen in the West End in Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage at the West End's Gielgud Theatre earlier this year, and won the Olivier Award for Best Actress for her performance as Beatrice in the RSC production of Much Ado About Nothing that transferred to the West End's Novello Theatre from Stratford-upon-Avon in December 2006. She also appeared in the RSC Stratford production of King John.

Other members of the cast have all recently appeared at the National: Anthony Calf as Anthony Eden in Howard Brenton's Never So Good in the Lyttelton; Stanley Townsend in Lucinda Coxon's Happy Now? in the Cottesloe; and Jessica Raine in Simon Stephens' Harper Regan, also in the Cottesloe. Nicola Walker was last at the National in David Mamet's Edmond and Christopher Hampton's adaptation of von Horvath's Tales from the Vienna Woods (both in the Olivier). Hare's previous plays at the National include Stuff Happens, The Permanent Way (a co-production with Out of Joint), Amy's View, Skylight, The Secret Rapture, The Absence of War, Murmuring Judges, Racing Demon, Pravda (written with Howard Brenton) and Plenty. Director Howard Davies is an associate director at the NT, where his recent productions include Her Naked Skin, Never So Good, Present Laughter, Philistines, The Life of Galileo, Paul, The House of Bernarda Alba and Mourning Becomes Electra. The production will have set designs by Bob Crowley and costumes by Fotini Dimou, with lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Christopher Shutt.

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour will begin performances on Jan. 12, 2009, prior to an official opening on Jan. 16. The play, co-produced with young professional orchestra Southbank Sinfonia, conducted by Simon Over, was originally staged by the RSC in 1977. The play revolves around a dissident who is locked up in an asylum. If he accepts that he was ill, has been treated and is now cured, he will be released. But he refuses. Sharing his cell is a real lunatic who believes himself to be surrounded by an orchestra. As the dissident's son begs his father to free himself with a lie, Stoppard's play asks if denying the truth is a price worth paying for liberty.

The play is co-directed by Felix Barrett, artistic director of environmental theatre company Punchdrunk whose recent productions include Faust (seen in a warehouse in Wapping) and The Masque of the Red Death (seen at BAC), and the National's Tom Morris (former artistic director of BAC, who has developed Coram Boy, co-adapted A Matter of Life and Death and co-directed War Horse with Marianne Elliott for the National). The production will be designed by Bob Crowley, with lighting by Bruno Poet, choreography by Maxine Doyle and sound by Christopher Shutt. Southbank Sinfonia was set up in 2002 by Founder and Music Director Simon Over to support promising young performers who have just graduated from music college.

Mrs. Affleck will begin performances on Jan. 20, 2009, prior to an official opening on Jan. 27. The play, which takes Ibsen's Little Eyolf as the inspiration for what press materials call "a passionate and tragic tale of obsessive love, set in 1950s England," reunites playwright Samuel Adamson and director Marianne Elliott from their previous collaboration on adapting Ibsen's Pillars of the Community for the Lyttelton in 2005. Adamson's other plays include Southwark Fair, premiered at the National's Cottesloe in Nicholas Hytner's production in 2006, and his adaptation of Almodovar's All About My Mother, seen at the Old Vic last year. Elliott, who is an associate director at the National Theatre, has recently directed Simon Stephens' Harper Regan and Shaw's Saint Joan there, as well as War Horse (co-directed with Tom Morris) that returns to the National in September.

The production will feature Claire Skinner in the title role of Rita Affleck, a wealthy, beautiful woman who is consumed by jealous love, as she welcomes her husband Alfred home after she has spent six lonely weeks with nobody but her crippled little boy for company. But, far from the passionate reunion she so craves, there is only torment as Alfred's possessive half-sister arrives, and he announces his great revelation.

Skinner has previously been seen at the National in A Winter's Tale, Othello and Invisible Friends at the National. Other theatre credits include The Glass Menagerie (winning the Time Out and London Critics' Circle Best Actress Award) at the Donmar Warehouse; and The Importance of Being Earnest in the West End.

Also in the cast are Naomi Frederick (last seen at the National as Isabella in Measure for Measure and currently playing Laura in Kneehigh's Brief Encounter in the West End), and Angus Wright, whose recent work at the National includes playing Friedrich Müller in War Horseand the Earl of Warwick in Saint Joan.

Public booking (by phone or online) opens for these productions on Sept. 3. To book tickets, call 020 7452 3000, or visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk.

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