Lucas and New to Star in Prick Up Your Ears, Inspired By Orton's Biography and Diaries

News   Lucas and New to Star in Prick Up Your Ears, Inspired By Orton's Biography and Diaries
Matt Lucas is confirmed to play Kenneth Halliwell opposite Chris New as Joe Orton, the long-term lover that he subsequently murdered, in Simon Bent's new play Prick Up Your Ears, beginning performances Sept. 17 prior to an official opening Sept. 30 at the West End's Comedy Theatre.

The production is booking to run there through Dec. 6. Prior to the West End, Prick Up Your Ears will tour to Richmond Theatre (Aug. 26-29), Salford's The Lowry (Aug. 31-Sept. 5) and Bath's Theatre Royal (Sept. 7-12).

The play, inspired by John Lahr's biography of the same name and the diaries of Orton, has the full support of the Orton estate, including Leonie Orton, his younger sister. It is produced in the West End by Sonia Friedman Productions, Kim Poster for Stanhope Productions and Lee Menzies, and is directed by Daniel Kramer.

Set in 1962, the play revolves around Halliwell (Lucas) and Orton (New) at a time when the two — both RADA graduates, aspiring playwrights and sometime lovers — plot their rightful place at the center of London's literary scene whilst engaged in a secret crusade to "improve" the local library books, all in the worst possible taste of course, and acting out their own versions of popular radio dramas, with an extra dash of innuendo. But after a short interlude at Her Majesty's pleasure, Orton is about to become the greatest, and most notorious comic playwright since Oscar Wilde, whilst Halliwell stays indoors re-decorating, reduced to sharing Joe's success with their neighbor, Mrs. Corden, over tea and a slice of battenberg cake. The role of Mrs. Corden is yet to be cast.

According to press materials, the play imagines what really happened when, after years of creative collaboration, the door slammed shut and Kenneth was home alone. It tells the sensational story behind the domestic life of Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell, holed up in a tiny flat in Islington, trading well-trodden insults and hilarious put-downs like any old married couple.

Orton's plays include The Ruffian on the Stair, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Loot and What the Butler Saw. Entertaining Mr. Sloane was recently revived in the West End at the Trafalgar Studios, starring Matthew Horne and Imelda Staunton. Matt Lucas, together with his comedy partner David Walliams, are creators of the international hit comedy series, "Little Britain" for which they have won over 20 awards worldwide. Onstage Lucas has been seen in Little Britain Live touring the U.K. and Australia, taking over the role of Leigh Bowery in the original Weset End production of Boy George's Taboo in the West End and Troilus and Cressida for the Oxford Stage Company, as well as many live performances at the Edinburgh Festival. His film credits include Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," "Shaun of the Dead," "Cold and Dark," "Plunkett and Macleane" and "Jilting Joe."

Chris New, who trained at RADA, was last seen on stage in London at the Young Vic in Amazonia. His other theatre credits include Daniel Kramer's production of Bent at the Trafalgar Studios, Twelfth Night and The Comedy of Errors for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Hay Fever for the Royal Exchange Theatre and The Reporter for the National Theatre.

Director Daniel Kramer was recently represented by his production of Pictures from an Exhibition at the Young Vic, co-produced with Sadler's Wells. He is currently directing Rufus Wainwright's debut opera, Prima Donna, premiering at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, as part of the Manchester International Festival. Later this year he will direct Duke Bluebeard's Castle for English National Opera. Other credits include Punch and Judy (for the English National Opera at the Young Vic, for which he received the South Bank Show Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera), Angels in America for Headlong (on tour and at the Lyric Hammersmtih) and more.

Simon Bent's previous plays include stage adaptations of John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany (National Theatre, subsequently produced in Washington, Boston and Philadelphia) and the film Elling (Bush Theatre, subsequently transferring to the West End's Trafalgar Studios and since produced at Sydney Theatre Company); he has also written The Associate, Goldhawk Road, Wasted, The Escapologist, Shelter, Under the Black Flag, Accomplices and Sugar Sugar.

To book tickets, contact the box office at 0870 060 6637 or visit

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