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Liola - National Theatre (Lyttelton)

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FORMER National Theatre Director, Richard Eyre, returns to the venue to direct Tanya Ronder’s new version of Luigi Pirandello’s Liola, which opens in the Lyttelton Theatre on August 7 (previews from July 31) before continuing in repertoire until Autumn 2013.

This high-spirited drama by Pirandello defies expectations. It is not the intellectual whirlwind of his Six Characters in Search of an Author but takes us instead to the heart of a rural community where property and kinship provoke fierce passions. Liolà, a young man untroubled by tradition, takes the part of nature all the way.

Written in Sicilian dialect, Liola is rarely played in the English language. Tanya Ronder’s new version is performed by an Irish cast that includes Lisa Dwyer Hogg, James Hayes, Rory Keenan, Carla Langley, Niamh McGowan, Roxanna Nic Liam and Jessica Regan, and gypsy musicians.

Rory Keenan, in the title role, has recently appeared in The Kitchen and Damned by Despair at the National Theatre and Philadelphia Here I Come and Dublin Carol at the Donmar Warehouse. His television credits include Birdsong and Law and Order.

Richard Eyre was Director of the National Theatre from 1988 – 1997, where his more recent productions include Welcome to Thebes, The Observer and The Reporter. Elsewhere, his credits include The Dark Earth and the Light Sky (Almeida Theatre), Quartermaine’s Terms (West End), Mary Poppins and Private Lives (West End and Broadway); and Henry IV Parts I and II for the BBC’s series The Hollow Crown. His films include Iris, Stage Beauty and Notes on a Scandal.

Tanya Ronder’s play Table has just opened at the National’s temporary venue, The Shed. Her other work includes adaptations of Lorca’s Blood Wedding (Almeida Theatre); DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little (nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Play) and Lope de Vega’s Peribanez (Young Vic); Peter Pan (Kensington Gardens and the O2); and Ionesco’s Macbett (RSC).

Liola will be designed by Anthony Ward, with lighting by Neil Austin, music by Orlando Gough, choreography by Scarlett Mackmin and sound by Rich Walsh.

Liola is part of the Travelex £12 Tickets season.

NB: Dates beyond August will be announced with the new booking period in June.