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Julian Clary to star in the world première of Le Grand Mort at Trafalgar Studios

Julian Clary. Photo credit: Tony Briggs.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

JULIAN Clary is to star in the world première of the black comedy Le Grand Mort. Directed by Christopher Renshaw, it receives its world premiere at Trafalgar Studios, where it runs from Wednesday, September 20 to Saturday, October 28, 2017.

Le Grand Mort was written specially for Clary by four-time Olivier Award nominated writer Stephen Clark (Martin Guerre, Zorro, Love Story, and the play Stripped, which won him a Stephen Jefferson Award), who died at the age of 55 last October.

In his super stylish, sterilely beautiful Notting Hill kitchen, Michael is preparing dinner for two. As he meticulously cuts the vegetables with almost a surgeon’s precision, he talks, with knife-like wit, about cases in history where the human body has continued to prove useful even after death. As he slices and chops, one wonders who is coming for dinner and what the main course might be.

When Tim, his young guest arrives, they engage in a series of funny, thrilling but searingly dangerous mind games, as they try to unravel the reasons why they are both there. Only when the games turn deadly do they catch a glimpse of the sadness and loss within each of them, that enables them to at least begin to connect with the truth, using whatever damaged shreds of humanity they still have left.

Julian Clary said: “In 2010 Stephen Clark took me out to lunch in Camden and told me he’d like to write a play for me. How lovely, how flattering, how unusual! Over the following few years I got the occasional email from Stephen saying ‘I haven’t forgotten the play!’ but I decided he’d probably thought better of it. We were both busy with life, work and in Stephen’s case, some serious health issues. Then, one day in 2013, it arrived. A funny, dark, beautiful play…Le Grand Mort will take me so far out of my comfort zone I may never return.”

Director Christopher Renshaw said: “Through our many collaborations, Stephen Clark and I became very close friends. Someone with whom I shared absolute trust, not only in our work but in our lives. A brave, honest, brilliantly funny man, who faced the many health challenges of his life without a single complaint. An inspiration. It is so very sad for me that Stephen will not not be here for the first production of Le Grand Mort, but I know he will be watching from somewhere, sipping a glass of good red wine, absorbing and encouraging every moment of rehearsal, as he always did.”

Julian Clary is a comedian, entertainer and author, who has toured across the world with his one-man shows. He became a household name in the late 1980s, and has appeared on numerous popular TV shows including Sticky Moments, Terry and Julian, Strictly Come Dancing, QI, Have I Got News For You and Celebrity Big Brother, which he won in 2012. He also hosted his own natural history series, Nature Nuts, for ITV and paid tribute to the life and works of his idol Noël Coward for Sky Arts’ Passions series.

He has starred in West End productions of Taboo, Olivier Award-winning Cabaret and Cinderella at the London Palladium, which broke box office records. In 2016, he extended his critically acclaimed UK tour, The Joy of Mincing, and this year published the third instalment of his hugely successful children’s book series, The Bolds.

Le Grand Mort will be designed by Justin Nardella and have lighting design by Jamie Platt. Producer and casting director is Danielle Tarento. Further casting will be announced in due course.

Tickets: £20 – £40. All tickets are subject to a restoration levy of £1 per ticket and a transaction charge of £3.50 per transaction. To book, call the box office on 0844 871 7632 or visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/trafalgar-studios/.

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.45pm; Thursday and Saturday matinee at 3pm.

Also at Trafalgar Studios: a new production of Oscar winner Christopher Hampton’s most celebrated play, The Philanthropist, directed by Simon Callow (until July 22) and Olivier Award winner Alexi Kaye Campbell’s acclaimed drama Apologia, directed by Jamie Lloyd and starring Stockard Channing (July 29 to November 18, 2017).