Follow Us on Twitter

Damned by Despair - National Theatre (Olivier)

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE FINAL production in the 2012 Travelex £12 Tickets season will be Frank McGuinness’ new version of Tirso de Molina’s Damned by Despair, which opens in the National’s Olivier Theatre on October 10, 2012 (previews from October 2) before continuing in repertoire.

Bijan Sheibani directs a cast that includes Sebastian Armesto, Bertie Carvel, Rory Keenan and Amanda Lawrence.

Written in 1635, Damned by Despair is a fast-paced adventure story embracing bandits and beautiful women between glimpses of heaven and hell.

This subversive and at times riotous exploration of faith and the transformative power of love races across the Italian landscape: relishing the unpredictability of fate, an extraordinary array of characters and their very real dilemmas.

Obsessed with his own salvation, the hermit Paulo (Armesto) dedicates himself to ten years of prayerful penance. When his faith wavers, the ever-watchful Devil seizes the moment to convince him that he shares the fate of one Enrico (Bertie Carvel), a notorious Neapolitan gangster destined for damnation.

Swearing vengeance, Paulo lashes out against God and assembles a band of rival outlaws. And yet, even as their villainous crimes escalate, the possibility of redemption hovers over the two men, perhaps within reach.

Sebastian Armesto has previously appeared at the National Theatre in A Woman Killed with Kindness (Ian Charleson Award commendation) and Rocket to the Moon. His theatre work elsewhere includes Wallenstein (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Alaska (Royal Court Theatre). His screen credits include Parade’s End, Zen, Little Dorrit, The Palace, The Tudors, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Anonymous, Dead Cat and Bright Star.

Bertie Carvel’s recent stage work includes Miss Trunchbull in the RSC’s Matilda (Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical), the title role in Doctor Dee (Manchester International Festival), Rope (Almeida Theatre), The Pride (Royal Court Theatre), The Circle (Chichester Festival Theatre and tour), Parade (Donmar Warehouse), and for the National, The Man of Mode, Coram Boy and The Life of Galileo. On television, he has appeared in Hidden, The Crimson Petal and the White, Sherlock and John Adams.

Bijan Sheibani is an Associate Director at the National Theatre, where his credits include The Kitchen, Our Class, Greenland and the US touring production of War Horse. He was formerly the Artistic Director of ATC for whom he directed co-productions of The Brothers Size and Eurydice with the Young Vic, and the Olivier Award-winning production of Gone Too Far! with the Royal Court.

Damned by Despair has set designs by Giles Cadle, costumes by Moritz Junge, lighting by Jon Clark, video by Finn Ross, music and sound by Dan Jones, movement by Aline David and fights by Kate Waters.

2012 marks the tenth anniversary of Travelex Tickets at the National Theatre. Almost half the tickets for Damned by Despair are £12 (the rest are £22 and £32).