Simon Gray Here, There, Simon Gray Everywhere in England; Japes May Hit Broadway

News   Simon Gray Here, There, Simon Gray Everywhere in England; Japes May Hit Broadway
British playwright Simon Gray is set for a busy time. First, his play The Holy Terror begins previews at London’s Duke Of Yorks’s Theatre from April 8. Then his new play The Old Masters premieres at the Birmingham Rep, from June 4, with a London transfer expected to follow.

  His 1975 play Otherwise Engaged meanwhile, is (according to Variety) set for a Theatreland revival, to be produced by Sonia Friedman and Mark Rubinstein. Playbill On-Line has also learned that Gray’s most recent West End play, Japes, is shaping up for Broadway, with a recent New York reading used to road-test some drastic re-writing.

Running for two and a half months in the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, in 2001, Japes was originally directed by Peter Hall, and starred Jasper Britton and Toby Stephens. Gray later re wrote it as two separate plays, but told Playbill On-Line that “it seems to be sliding back into a single play” for New York.

Gray has also greatly rewritten The Holy Terror. The play has a complex history. It started as the 1986 play Melon, and starred Alan Bates in London. Gray tinkered with the script and produced The Holy Terror in 1989 (broadcast on BBC Radio before a 1991 stage premiere in Arizona). The title has been retained for the version which will open at the Duke Of York’s, starring Simon Callow, but, says Gray, there are only a few sentences that remain from the original.

Gray’s old friend and frequent director Harold Pinter renews their partnership on The Old Masters, marking their ninth collaboration. That play is about the art dealer Joseph Duveen and the art critic Bernard Berenson.

And Gray is just as busy on the books front. The latest in his series of published journals is “The Smoking Diaries”, to be published by Granta on April 17. Granta will also re-print “Fat Chance”, his witty account of the collapse of 1995’s play Cell Mates when the star Stephen Fry walked out. (Incidentally, the recent Faber & Faber publication of four of Gray’s plays – priced in the UK at £13.99 – contains four plays, none of which have been or will be actually performed. Two of the plays are Japes in its double-bill form (Japes Too and Michael), one is an amalgam of two versions of The Holy Terror, and the other is The Pig Trade which has now been rewritten as The Old Masters!)

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