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Jermyn Street Theatre - first productions for 21st anniversary year

Season preview

FOLLOWING this Autumn’s sell-out 1930s programme, Jermyn Street Theatre’s Artistic Director Anthony Biggs has announced a season of two premieres and a revival to kick off the theatre’s twenty-first anniversary year.

Comprising three plays and running from January to April, the line up includes James Hogan’s two works Ivy & Joan (January 6 to January 24), The Last of The De Mullins by Edwardian playwright St John Hankin and The Heart of Things by the writer of the acclaimed The Art of Concealment, Giles Cole.

And Then There Were None - Richmond Theatre and on tour

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

NEXT year marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie and the 10th anniversary of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company. To mark both occasions, her most popular and best-selling thriller And Then There Were None, is returning to the stage for a UK tour, visiting Richmond Theatre from May 26 to May 30, 2015.

The cast includes Paul Nicholas as judge Sir Lawrence Wargrave, Colin Buchanan as retired police inspector William Henry Blore, Susan Penhaligon as eccentric spinster Emily Brent, Mark Curry as Dr. Armstrong, Verity Rushworth as Vera Claythorne, Frazer Hines as Rogers and Ben Nealon as Philip Lombard.

Widely considered to be Christie’s masterpiece, And Then There Were None is the world’s best-selling mystery ever, with 100 million sales to date.

In Christie’s own stage adaptation of this dark and captivating tale, a group of 10 strangers is lured to a remote island off the coast of Devon. Upon arrival it is discovered that their host, an eccentric millionaire, is missing.

At dinner a recorded message is played accusing each of them in turn of having a guilty secret and by the end of the evening the 10 guests become nine. Stranded on the island by a torrential storm and haunted by an ancient nursery rhyme, one by one the guests begin to die. And with only the fallen believed to be innocent who amongst them is the killer?

Produced by Bill Kenwright and directed by Joe Harmston, And Then There Were None is designed by Simon Scullion, with lighting by Douglas Kuhrt and sound by Matt Bugg.

Although Paul Nicholas will always be remembered as Vince Pinner in the 80s BBC sitcom Just Good Friends, his biggest success has been his musical theatre career. He first made his name playing the title role in the original London production of Jesus Christ Superstar. He also starred in Hair alongside Elaine Paige. The pair went on to play Danny and Sandy in the West End production of Grease, the first British couple to do so.

In 1997, Nicholas teamed up with Bill Kenwright to co-produce a new musical based on Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities, in which he starred as Sidney Carton. In recent years, he produced and directed a UK tour of Keeler, based on the Profumo Affair and in February 2013 starred in Dear World at the Charing Cross Theatre.

Colin Buchanan, best known for playing D.I Pascoe for eleven years in the hit BBC television series Dalziel and Pascoe, joins the cast after starring in a UK tour of another Bill Kenwright production, J.B Priestley’s Dangerous Corner.

Although Susan Penhaligon is probably best known for starring in the 1976 ITV drama Bouquet of Barbed Wire and for playing Judi Dench’s sister in the 1981 LWT sitcom A Fine Romance, she has also appeared on television in Upstairs Downstairs, Tales of the Unexpected, Bergerac, Casualty and A Touch of Frost.

Her West End theatre credits include The Three Sisters (Albery Theatre), Of Mice and Men (Mermaid Theatre), The Maintenance Man and Mr Love (Comedy Theatre), The Real Thing (Strand Theatre) and Dangerous Corner (Whitehall Theatre).

Mark Curry is best known to children of the Eighties as one of the Blue Peter presenters as well as for hosting Get Set for Summer, The Saturday Picture Show and Screen Test. His acting credits include Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone, London’s Burning, and West End shows The Woman in Black and Talent and touring productions of Noises Off and Singin’ In The Rain.

Verity Rushworth is best known for her role as Donna Windsor-Dingle in the long-running ITV soap Emmerdale which she landed in 1998 when she was just 12 years old. After ten years in the role, her final scenes were aired in January 2009. The following month, she made her West End debut as Penny Pingleton in the musical Hairspray, a role she played until March 2010. And in January 2011, she played Maria Von Trapp in the UK tour of The Sound of Music, taking over the role from Connie Fisher.

In January 2014, Rushworth announced she would be returning to Emmerdale to reprise her role of Donna Windsor-Dingle and returned on screen in March. She stayed for five months before departing in August.

Frazer Hines is well known to Doctor Who fans for his role as Jamie McCrimmon, companion to the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton. However, his biggest TV role was as Joe Sugden in ITV soap Emmerdale which he played for 22 years from the pilot episode in 1972.

Hines’ theatre credits include starring roles in Outside Edge, Dial ‘M’ for Murder, Spider’s Web, Not Now Darling, Doctor in the House, opposite Bill Kenwright, Run for your Wife, Wait Until Dark and Far From the Madding Crowd. He has also appeared in repertory at the Grand Theatre, Swansea, playing Doctor Prentice in What the Butler Saw.

Ben Nealon is best known for his role as 2nd Lt/Lt/Capt Jeremy Forsythe in ITV’s award-winning series Soldier Soldier. His other screen credits include Casualty, The Bill, EastEnders and Doctors (TV); Bollywood blockbusters The Rising and the Oscar-nominated Lagaan. His previous work for Bill Kenwright includes The Signal Man (Windsor) and the Passport For Pimlico tour.

The tour kicks off at the Theatre Royal Windsor (January 12 – 24) before continuing to Cheltenham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Stoke, Chesterfield, Eastbourne, Malvern, Bromley, Guildford, Mold, Bath, Blackpool, Richmond, Gravesend, Crawley, Croydon, Cardiff, Brighton, Milton Keynes, Newcastle and Leeds, with further dates to be announced.

Shakespeare's Globe - Dominic Dromgoole’s final summer season as Artistic Director

Season preview

SHAKESPEARE’S Globe has announced Dominic Dromgoole’s final summer season as Artistic Director. Following 2014’s Arms and the Man programme, which explored mankind’s capacity for violent conflict, next summer’s programme will be constructed around the theme Justice and Mercy.

The season will probe the strengths and weaknesses of judicial law and the various tugs-of-war between family, state, religion, love, sex and duty that have defined human morality for centuries.

In celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Royal & Derngate theatre will present a touring production of King John, playing at the Globe from June 1 to June 28, 2015.

Directed by James Dacre, this ambitious new production will see a large company of actors and musicians explore a tangled world of ruthless politicking and fatal power struggles. The production will also visit the Holy Sepulchre Church (a frequent haunt of King John and his court) in Northampton, and Temple Church, the church of Inner and Middle Temple in London.

The 2015 summer season at the Globe opens on April 23 with The Merchant of Venice, directed by Jonathan Munby, who returns to the Globe following his critically-acclaimed production of Antony & Cleopatra starring Eve Best this summer. His other recent credits include Wendy and Peter Pan (RSC), A Human Being Died That Night (Hampstead Studio) and Life Is A Dream (Donmar Warehouse).

From May 15, Blanche McIntyre directs Shakespeare’s lyrical comedy As You Like It, having made her Globe debut this summer with her uproarious take on The Comedy of Errors. McIntyre recently revived her production of Accolade at the St James Theatre – her 2011 version for the Finborough won her rave reviews and the Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Newcomer.

Her other directing credits include The Birthday Party (Royal Exchange, Manchester), The Seagull (Headlong), and Ciphers (Out of Joint/Bush Theatre). She has also written the script for the forthcoming feature film Hippopotamus, based on the novel by Stephen Fry.

Dominic Dromgoole’s new production of Measure for Measure opens on June 20. Dromgoole was appointed Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe in 2006; prior to this he was Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre, Director of New Writing at the Old Vic and Artistic Director of the Oxford Stage Company (now Headlong). His recent productions for Shakespeare’s Globe include Julius Caesar, The Duchess of Malfi with Gemma Arterton and Samuel Adamson’s smash hit Gabriel.

Evening Standard Award-winning director Simon Godwin will direct Richard II from July 11. Next year, Godwin is directing Ralph Fiennes in Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman at the National Theatre, where he also recently directed Strange Interlude, starring Anne-Marie Duff. He is an Associate Director at the Royal Court, where his work includes Anya Reiss’s The Acid Test, Lucy Kirkwood’s NSFW and Nick Payne’s Wanderlust.

The summer’s new writing begins on July 21 with The Heresy of Love, Helen Edmundson’s critically-acclaimed telling of the life of seventeenth-century Mexican nun and playwright Juana Inés de la Cruz, which premiered at the RSC in 2012. Edmundson’s adaptation of Coram Boy for the National Theatre won her huge popular acclaim and a Time Out Award.

Edmundson’s adaptation of Emile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin opens at New York’s Roundabout Theatre with Keira Knightley in the title role next October. Her other credits include Mary Shelley (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Mill on the Floss (Shared Experience) and Mother Teresa is Dead (Royal Court).

From August 29, Adele Thomas will direct a contemporary distillation of all three plays from Aeschylus’s Oresteia, one of the great cornerstones of Western drama. Documenting the bitter cycle of violent retribution that afflicts the House of Atreus as a consequence of Agamemnon’s sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia, the Oresteia dramatises the shift away from the ‘natural law’ of the individual blood vendetta and towards a self-governing polis founded on principles of fair trial and punishment.

The final show of the 2015 summer season sees the return of Jessica Swale with her new play Nell Gwynn. Having delighted audiences with Thomas Tallis this year and Blue Stockings in 2013, Swale returns to the Globe with this rambunctious and vibrant take on life in London theatre during the Restoration. This new play charts the rise and rise of brilliant wit and charmer Nell Gwynn – from lowly satsuma-seller in the pit, to leading actress on the stage, to King’s escort in the Royal Box.

Continuing its commitment to international Shakespeare and following a hugely successful tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to China this autumn, the Globe will be bringing two Chinese shows to London this summer. On July 20, the National Theatre of China will once again present their Richard III in Mandarin (with scene synopses in English), having delighted audiences in 2012 with this production of Shakespeare’s ghoulish horrorshow of power and paranoia.

On August 17, Hong Kong’s Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio will perform Macbeth in Cantonese (with scene synopses in English). Described as the ‘alchemist of minimalist theatre’, the Tang Shu-wing company works with pared-back staging, voice and movement to release the energies of classic texts.

Shakespeare’s Globe has been touring nationally and internationally since 2007, recreating the fleet-of-foot style of Renaissance touring theatre for the 21st century. Next spring and summer, two small-scale touring productions will travel across the UK and further afield. From April 28, a fresh new production of Romeo & Juliet will embark on its journey around the UK and across the Atlantic. From August 10, Max Webster’s much-loved production of Much Ado About Nothing will return for another tour of the UK and Europe.

Finally, the unprecedented Globe to Globe Hamlet tour continues its journey to every country on earth next year. Currently in Latin America, the company will head to Africa in January 2015, travelling across the continent from Angola to Zimbabwe. They will then take the galvanising wit and wisdom of this most universal and timeless of plays across Asia and Australasia.

2015 SUMMER SEASON: April 23 to October 18

The Merchant of Venice – April 23 to June 7.

As You Like It – May 15 to September 5.

King John – June 1 to June 28.

Measure for Measure – June 20 to October 17.

Richard II – July 11 to October 18.

Richard III (in Mandarin) – July 20 to July 25.

The Heresy of Love – July 31 to September 5.

Macbeth (in Cantonese) – August 17 to August 23.

Oresteia – August 29 to October 16.

Nell Gwynn – September 19 to October 17.

Friends and Patrons Priority Booking will open on Tuesday, January 13 and will close on Friday, February 6. Public booking for the season will open on Monday, February 9. Details of how to join the Friends & Patrons scheme and the range of benefits available to Friends & Patrons can be found on the Globe website.

Seasons of Love - Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Seasons of Love

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SEASONS of Love, a joyful, spectacular music and dance production poignantly portraying three love stories over the four seasons of the year and different stages of life, will receive its world premiere in the West End at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Sunday, March 1, 2015.

Seasons of Love is a major new show from the creative team behind the London Olympics closing ceremony and world tours by Madonna and Take That.

Set against the backdrop of present day Ireland’s beautiful scenery, Seasons of Love is an exhilarating blend of original music and songs, thrilling choreography, spectacular video projections, body mapping and hi tech visuals as it celebrates the breathless thrill of youthful encounters, the heartrending sorrow of separation, mature love lost and rekindled, and the blissful exuberance of an Irish wedding.

Developed and composed by Brendan Larrissey, Seasons of Love is directed and choreographed by Gareth Walker and designed by Mark Cunniffe, with songs by Mark Leddy and visual content by CS Media. The producer is Martin Flitton. Casting is still to be announced.

Gareth Walker worked on the 2012 closing ceremony for the London Olympics and Paralympics, where he was the Associate Director. He assisted Kim Gavin on Take That’s The Ultimate Tour, Beautiful World and Circus tours. He choreographed The Brit Awards and many artist’s tours including Mika’s stadium tour, the STEPS reunion stadium tour and directed and choreographed the sold out Here Come The Girls, starring Lulu, Anastacia and Chaka Khan.

Brendan Larrissey is a champion fiddle player and comes from Dundalk, County Louth. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, traditional Irish music flourished in Dundalk and Larrissey honed his musical skills in many sessions and fleadhs during that time. In 1985, he joined his first band, Gael Force. He then played with Dolores Keane and John Faulkner, touring Europe and Ireland, and he also recorded with Dolores and her two aunts, Rita and Sara.

In 1987, Larrissey won the Senior Fiddle Championship and the following year he decided to become a full-time musician. In 1988, he was a founding member of the award-winning band Arcady, which led to him touring worldwide. He was also involved in the albums A Woman’s Heart and Trad at Heart. He has recorded two solo fiddle albums, A Flick of the Wrist and Up the Moy Road.

Larrissey has also been involved in running the first International Fiddle Festival in Ireland, runs his own fiddle school in Galway and has taught many All-Ireland champions.

Mark Cunniffe is one of the most creative and innovative lighting and production designers working in international events and touring. He is currently Lighting and Production Designer for Brit nominee Ed Sheeran. Other stars he’s designed for include Stevie Wonder, Sir Tom Jones, David Bowie, Bryan Adams, AC/DC and REM.

For Madonna’s MDNA world tour, Cunniffe worked closely with the artist as her Lighting Director, taking the award-winning show from rehearsals in New York, to a sold out tour playing four continents. He was the Lighting Director on Michael Jackson’s This Is It O2 production before the star’s untimely death.

Mark Leddy is lead singer with the group Friends Of Emmet (F.O.E), who have been writing, recording and touring for the past three years. Originally from Dublin, they are now based in Los Angeles. F.O.E released their debut album State Of Mind in March 2014. Several tracks from the album have already been licensed to major TV dramas in the UK and the US.

Tickets: £27.50 – £37.50. To book, call 0844 811 0051 or visit www.gigsandtours.com/.

Time: 7pm.

NB: Under 14s must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information visit www.seasons.co.com/website/.

Bull - Young Vic

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MIKE Bartlett’s Bull, a companion piece to his award-winning 2009 play Cock, receives its London premiere at the Young Vic (The Maria), where it runs from January 8 to February 7, 2015.

Described as razor-sharp, Bull is about the fine line between office politics and playground bullying, and offers ringside seats as three employees fight to keep their jobs.

Clare Lizzimore directs a cast that includes Adam James, who recently appeared in Bartlett’s King Charles III, Eleanor Matsuura (The Changeling), Neil Stuke (American Buffalo) and Sam Troughton (Three Sisters).

Adam James’ theatre work also includes Rapture, Blister, Burn and Tiger Country (Hampstead Theatre), 13, Blood and Gifts and Gethsemane (National Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (West End), Now Or Later (Royal Court), French Without Tears (English Touring Theatre), Rabbit (Old Red Lion/Trafalgar Studios), Tamburlaine The Great (RSC) and Coriolanus (National Youth Theatre).

Mike Bartlett’s other plays include Earthquakes in London for the National Theatre and Headlong; Cock, which received an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre; Contractions and My Child (Royal Court Theatre); Love Love Love (Paines Plough) and Artefacts (Bush Theatre).

Bull premiered at Sheffield Theatres last year before transferring to New York for a short run.

Antarctica - Battersea Arts Centre

Antarctica

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

LITTLE Bulb Theatre is presenting Antarctica at Battersea Arts Centre – from December 2, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

Only the bravest of explorers have been to the South Pole: an enchanting world of snow, ice and some of the most wondrous creatures on Earth. Will you be one of them?

Join the Explorers’ Club and discover slippy-slidey penguins, glamorous sea lions and pesky birds as award-winning Little Bulb (CBeebies A Christmas Carol) whisk you away on an unforgettable journey with songs, puppets and plenty of snowy surprises.

With maps to read and animals to spot, lively adventurers are encouraged to take part in the story.

Antarctica is co-produced by Bristol Old Vic and Farnham Maltings.

Antarctica is suitable for ages 2 – 6 years.

Tickets: £14, £9 children and concessions – available from the box office on 020 7223 2223 or online at www.bac.org.uk/.

Times: 10:30am and 1:30pm/11am and 2:30pm.

Tree - Old Vic

Tree. Illustration by Lizzy Stewart.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

TREE, a play for two people by Daniel Kitson, receives its London premiere at The Old Vic, where it runs from January 5 to January 31, 2015.

It’s early evening in the middle of autumn. It’s just starting to get dark and on a quiet residential street a man with a picnic basket, arrives late, at a tree.

Tree is a (relatively) new play about dissent, commitment, two people and a tree, and will be performed in the round by Tim Key and Daniel Kitson.

Tree was originally written by Kitson in his house during August of 2013, before being re-written, learnt, and rehearsed with Key at Battersea Arts Centre. It was designed and staged at the Manchester Royal Exchange that same September.

NB: Tickets go on sale to the general public from December 4, 2014 at 12 noon. To book, call the box office on 0844 871 7628 or visit www.oldvictheatre.com/.

Also at The Old Vic: High Society, directed by Maria Friedman (April 30 to August 22, 2015).

Maria Friedman to direct High Society at The Old Vic

High Society

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

NEXT year, Maria Friedman will direct High Society at The Old Vic – from May 14 (previews from April 30) to August 22, 2015.

Based on the play The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry and the Turner Entertainment Co. motion picture starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra, High Society has music and lyrics by Cole Porter, book by Arthur Kopit, and additional lyrics by Susan Birkenhead.

Long Island socialite Tracy Lord is planning her lavish summer wedding when her ex-husband appears to try and win her back. His unwelcome arrival threatens to disrupt proceedings. When tabloid reporter Mike Connor arrives to cover the nuptials, he too takes a shine to the bride-to-be. But which of these three suitors will she choose?

High Society features hit songs such as True Love, You’re Sensational, ‘Well, Did You Evah! and the unforgettable Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

The final production of The Old Vic’s season in the round, this ambitious project is once more made possible by the generous support of CQS. The season of productions is supported for the fourth consecutive year by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Maria Friedman said: “To stage High Society in the round at The Old Vic is a hugely exciting project providing the perfect immersive environment for a sparkling musical celebration of wedding day shenanigans. I am really looking forward to transporting audiences into the glamorous heart of this world and hope they enjoy the party!”

Maria Friedman made her directorial debut with Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory which then transferred to the Harold Pinter Theatre. The show won two Olivier Awards, including Best Musical Revival, Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical as well as being nominated for a further five Olivier Awards, including Best Director. Merrily We Roll Along received more five-star reviews than any West End show in history.

Friedman’s extensive performing credits include Maria Friedman: Re-arranged, which transferred from the Menier Chocolate Factory to Trafalgar Studios (Olivier Award nomination for Best Entertainment); Fosca in Sondheim’s Passion (Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical); Maria Friedman, by Special Arrangement, which tranferred from the Donmar Warehouse to the Whitehall Theatre (Olivier Award for Best Entertainment); and Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre (Olivier Award nomination).

Her other credits include Sunday in the Park with George (Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Performance of the Year by an Actress in a Musical) and Lady in the Dark (Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical) both at the National Theatre; and West End and Broadway productions of The Woman in White (Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical/Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway debut).

More recently, Friedman has been seen performing her new show Back to Before, which is to transfer to New York in 2015. She is also currently appearing as Elaine Peacock in EastEnders.

High Society will have musical direction by Theo Jamieson and sound by Simon Baker.

NB: Tickets will go on sale to the general public on December 4 at 12 noon. To book, call the box office on 0844 871 7628 or visit www.oldvictheatre.com/.

Frank McGuinness’ version of Sophocles’ Electra, starring Kristen Scott Thomas, continues at The Old Vic until December 20, 2014.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Savoy Theatre (review)

Alex Gaumond and Robert Lindsay in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels The Musical.

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CASTING can make a world of difference to the success (or otherwise) of a production so recasting principal roles is of paramount importance. However, when it comes to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the powers that be need have no fear for Alex Gaumond, who recently took over the role of Freddy Benson, is just perfect.

Benson is, of course, the unsophisticated (and that’s putting it politely) rookie conman who dares to invade the stomping ground of seasoned conman Lawrence Jameson, still played with great panache by the wonderful Robert Lindsay.

Not surprisingly, Jameson decides that the French Riviera, or to be more precise, the town of Beaumont-Sur-Mer, isn’t big enough for both of them and a bet is made – the winner stays, the loser goes.

Also relatively new to the cast are Bonnie Langford who plays Muriel Eubanks, a glamorous if somewhat ditzy divorcee looking for love, and Gary Wilmot, who has taken on the role of Andre Thibault, Beaumont-Sur-Mer’s Chief of Police and Jameson’s sidekick and partner in crime.

Both are superb and like Gaumond have a gift for conveying their thoughts with facial expressions alone. But why not – they are after all in the company of the master himself, Robert Lindsay who, in taking the art to a new dimension, is simply mesmerising. However, it’s Gaumond who almost steals the show when Benson is obliged to silently submit to Jameson’s efforts to prove he isn’t numb from the waist down. Ouch!!

As well as each other, the three newcomers have gelled with original cast members, who also include Katherine Kingsley as Christine Colgate, the millionaire soap heiress the boys set out to con. Kingsley too is superb, somehow managing to imbue her character with charm and compassion without ever becoming sickly sweet. But is she just too good to be true?

Special mention must also go to Lizzy Connolly as Jolene Oakes, a man eater from Oklahoma, who has Jameson believing he’s ‘missed an act’ when she begins talking about their wedding; to David Yazbek’s music and lyrics that encompass a wide variety of styles; to Peter McKintosh’s set and costume designs that together create a fantasy Riviera of the late 1950s; and to Jerry Mitchell’s slick direction and choreography.

Unashamedly silly and plainly not taking itself seriously, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is frequently laugh-out-loud funny and will almost certainly take you by surprise – unless, of course, you’ve seen the film and already know how it all ends. I didn’t and, as it turned out, was as gullible as Jameson and Benson.

This is a very watchable production; one that will envelop you in the sunshine of the French Riviera and make you forget the gloom of England’s winter days (and nights). It also has that all important feel good factor that stays with you long after the final curtain.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Photo Gallery

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is currently booking at the Savoy Theatre until March 7, 2015.

Elephants - Hampstead Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

TAMARA Harvey directs Imogen Stubbs (Strangers On A Train, West End), Antonia Thomas (Misfits, Channel 4) and Bel Powley (Raving, Hampstead Theatre) in Rose Heiney’s Elephants, which runs at Hampstead Theatre (Downstairs) from December 11, 2014 to January 17, 2015.

I told you we should have gone to the Caribbean.

It’s 5.53pm on Christmas Eve. Richard and Sally are waiting for their friends and family to join in the festivities – the tree is decorated, the wine is mulling, the presents are wrapped.

However, beneath this shiny façade, disastrous events from last Christmas have left their mark on the Llewellyn family and attempts to paper over it make for an explosive evening of surprising revelations and dark secrets exposed.

Award-winning writer Rose Heiney’s debut play is a sharp, black comedy with a tender heart that explores the paths we take in life and their repercussions on the people we love most. Her previous television credits include hit shows Miranda, Fresh Meat and Big Bad World.

Tamara Harvey returns to Hampstead Downstairs following last year’s sell-out hits Hello/Goodbye and In The Vale Of Health which transferred to the Main Stage. Her numerous credits elsewhere include From Here To Eternity, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (both West End) and Breeders (St. James Theatre).

Completing the cast are Helen Atkinson-Wood (The Vortex, Rose Theatre Kingston), Adam Buchanan (The Mystae, Hampstead Downstairs), Jonathan Guy Lewis (I Found My Horn, West End) and Richard Lintern (Duchess of Malfi, RSC).

Elephants is designed by Polly Sullivan, with lighting by Mark Howland and sound by Tom Gibbons.