National Theatre's Pillowman and Democracy Set for Broadway in Fall

News   National Theatre's Pillowman and Democracy Set for Broadway in Fall
The National Theatre's hit productions of Michael Frayn's Democracy and Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman will reach New York City in fall 2004, the "National Theatre New York" website announced.

They will follow Jumpers, the first play from the Royal National Theatre's success-spangled 2003 season to reach American shores, and the first to benefit from American producers Bob Boyett and Ostar Productions' deal with the National to get first rights to transfer shows from the National to the U.S.

The website said both Pillowman and Democracy will reach Manhattan in the fall, but offered no specifics about dates, theatres or casting. Both were nominated for the Olivier Awards Best Play prize. In what might be considered a minor upset, Democracy lost to The Pillowman.

The Helen Mirren vehicle, Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra, is a possibility for New York in 2004, if Mirren can fit it into her schedule.

All three productions began life at the Royal National Theatre in London.

The Pillowman is billed as a "vicious and disturbing comedy" from the Irish writer who gave us the Leenane trilogy — The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West. The Pillowman opened at London's National Theatre on Nov. 13, in the Cottesloe. Drawing inspiration from the nastiness behind many children's tales, McDonagh depicts a writer in a totalitarian state who is interrogated about the horrific events in his short stories (such as fathers being given razor blade-filled apples to eat by their offspring), and, more frighteningly, their similarity to child murders that are occurring in the same town.

The writer is played by David Tennant. Jim Broadbent, riding high these days after his Oscar and Golden Globe awards for the movie "Iris" and appearance in "Moulin Rouge," is one of the interrogators. The cast also includes James Daley, Adam Godley, Jennifer Higham, Nigel Lindsay, Victoria Pembroke and Mike Sherman.

John Crowley directs, with designs by Scott Pask, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Paul Arditti.

McDonagh, who first rose to fame with The Cripple of Inishmaan at the National, returns to the RNT for the first time since then. He was Tony Award-nominated for Best Play two years running, for the Broadway transfers of The Beauty Queen Of Leenane (1998) and The Lonesome West (1999).

Democracy, about West German politics in 1969 — and specifically the relationship between German Chancellor Willy Brandt and his P.A. and Stasi spy Gunter Guillaume — has been a big hit for Frayn and the National Theatre. It has won both the Critics’ Circle and the London Evening Standard awards for Best Play. Frayn himself, accepting the Critics' Circle bottle of champagne, said how surprised he was that such a boring-sounding subject should do so well.

On April 15, the play will transfer from the National to the West End. Cast members — including the leads Roger Allam and Conleth Hill — will make the jump with it.

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