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Donmar Warehouse - Francesca Annis joins the cast of Versailles

Season preview

THE DONMAR Warehouse has announced its programme for the first half of 2014 and it includes two new plays.

The season opens with the premiere of Peter Gill’s Versailles, which runs from February 20 to April 5.

In the drawing room of the Rawlinson’s late Victorian villa in Kent, life as it was lived before the war is quietly resuming its place.

The family’s son, Leonard Rawlinson, is among the British delegation sent to Versailles to draw up the treaty that will come to define Europe, the Middle East and the rest of the world. With the ghost of a fallen loved one still haunting him, Leonard perceives that the choices made in Paris will shape the fate of millions for centuries to come.

At the start of the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, this major new play draws startling connections between this pivotal moment at the end of WWI and the world we live in today, reminding us that the past is not a foreign country.

To accompany this production, the Donmar will present a series of events with leading political and cultural commentators exploring the debate around the legacy of WW1.

Gill himself directs a cast that includes Helen Bradbury, Barbara Flynn, Tom Hughes, Tamla Kari, Gwilym Lee, Josh O’Connor, Simon Williams and Eleanor Yates.

Francesca Annis has joined the cast to play Edith Rawlinson. Most recently, she appeared on stage in The Machine, directed by Josie Rourke, artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, in a collaboration between the Donmar, Manchester International Festival (MIF) and Park Avenue Armory.

Her other theatre credits include Under the Blue Sky (Duke of York’s Theatre), Epitaph for George Dillon (Comedy Theatre), The Glass Menagerie (Gate Theatre Dublin); Henry IV and The Vortex (Donmar Warehouse); Ibsen’s Ghosts; the title role in Hedda Gabler (Chichester Festival Theatre); Mrs Klein (National Theatre); and Rosmersholm (Young Vic).

On television, she has appeared in Cranford, Wives and Daughters, Jane Eyre, Miss Marple, Copenhagen, Madame Bovary and Onassis: The Richest Man in the World in which she played Jacqueline Kennedy.

Versailles is designed by Richard Hudson, with lighting by Paul Pyant.

The second production is Privacy, a new play by James Graham, which runs from April 10 to May 31.

Is there really such a thing as privacy anymore? James Graham, whose Olivier-nominated National Theatre hit This House exposed the workings of British politics, brings the same forensic wit and insight to this dramatic investigation of the digital age.

Privacy explores how governments and corporations collect and use our personal information, and what that means for our security, our identity and our future. Provoked by the recent revelations of Edward Snowden, Privacy draws on interviews with journalists, politicians and analysts, and asks the audience directly: how much do we give away when we share?

Privacy is directed by Josie Rourke, Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, and designed by Lucy Osborne, with lighting by Richard Howell and sound by Christopher Shutt. Casting has yet to be announced.

The season concludes with Fathers and Sons, by Brian Friel (Philadelphia, Here I Come! and Dancing at Lughnasa), after the novel by Ivan Turgenev, which runs from June 5 to July 26.

Two young men arrive at a country estate, fresh from university: one, the son of the landowner, the other a brilliant and charismatic radical, proclaiming a dangerous new philosophy. But their warm welcome cools as the new house guest attacks the values of his hosts, bringing to the surface the tensions between one generation and the next.

Over the course of a summer, political ideals are tested by filial duty and the arrival of Anna, a mysterious visitor whose presence stirs the heart and threatens a friendship.

Fathers and Sons speaks of the heartbreak of being a parent and the terrible compromise of growing up.

Lyndsey Turner returns to the Donmar, where she helmed Philadelphia, Here I Come! in 2012, to direct Friel’s dramatisation of Turgenev’s masterpiece.

The cast includes Caoilfhionn Dunne (as Aimee), Anthony Calf, Elaine Cassidy, Susan Engel, David Fielder, Joshua James, Karl Johnson, Tim McMullan, Jack McMullen, Siobhan McSweeney, Seth Numrich, Phoebe Sparrow and Lindy Whiteford.

Roots, starring Call the Midwife‘s Jessica Raine, continues at the Donmar Warehouse until November 30, 2013. It will be followed by Coriolanus, with Tom Hiddleston returning to the Donmar in the title role.