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A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson - Arts Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING a successful spring tour, A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson, Out of Joint’s critically acclaimed celebration of Samuel Johnson’s unique take on life, will play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from August 23 to 28, and at the Arts Theatre from September 1 to 24, 2011.

Samuel Johnson was a poet, playwright, essayist, critic and lexicographer, best known for his epic work on his dictionary.

A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson is adapted by Russell Barr, Ian Redford and Max Stafford-Clark, from Johnson’s friend and biographer James Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson and Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.

In a show built on stories and conversation, Ian Redford will reprise his widely praised performance as the witty, irritable, depressed and generous 18th century icon. While Russell Barr will portray a host of characters from Boswell and the painter Joshua Reynolds to King George III and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s saviour Flora Macdonald.

In Edinburgh and at most London performances (the exceptions being September 9 to 11 and September 21 to 24), Trudie Styler will appear as Hester Thrale, the society hostess who was Johnson’s final, unrequited love.

Ian Redford previously played Johnson in April De Angelis’ play A Laughing Matter for Out of Joint and the National Theatre. His extensive theatrical career has included performances at the National Theatre, Old Vic and Shakespeare’s Globe. A familiar face on television, he played Keith Appleyard in Coronation Street for two years.

Russell Barr appeared in Out of Joint’s world-famous production of Shopping and F***ing and won great acclaim for writing and performing the one-man show Sisters Such Devoted Sisters. His double bill, Lobster/Vantastic, played at the Oval House Theatre in 2009.

Trudie Styler, wife of rock star Sting, trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and her theatre work includes roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company. On screen, she has appeared in Love Soup, The Scold’s Bridle, Midsomer Murders, the US series Empire and the film Alpha Male.

Presented by Karl Sydow at the Arts Theatre, A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson will be directed by Max Stafford-Clark and designed by Tim Shortall, with lighting by Christopher Nairne and costumes by Karen Large.

Tickets (Arts Theatre): £32.50 – £20; Premium Stalls £37.50; Circle Slips for under 24s £15 – available on 0207 907 7092 or at www.artstheatrewestend.com

Times: Evenings 8pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees at 3pm (except Thursday, September 1).

Bette and Joan continues at the Arts Theatre until June 25, 2011.