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Lyric Hammersmith announces Rachel O'Riordan's first season as Artistic Director

Rachel O'Riordan and Sian Alexander, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre 2019. Photo credit: Helen Maybanks.

Season preview

THE Lyric Hammersmith Theatre has announced its 2019/2020 programme of work, Rachel O’Riordan’s inaugural season as Artistic Director and it includes A Doll’s House, Solaris, the pantomime Cinderella, Love, Love, Love, Sophocles’ Antigone: The Burial at Thebes and The Beauty Queen of Leenane.


A Doll’s House – a new version by Tanika Gupta based on the play by Henrik Ibsen, directed by Rachel O’Riordan and designed by Lily Arnold – Friday, September 6 to Saturday, October 5, 2019.

Calcutta. 1879. Niru, is a young Bengali woman in a mixed-race marriage with an English colonial bureaucrat, Tom.

Tom loves Niru, exoticising her as a frivolous plaything to be admired and kept. But Niru has a long-kept secret. And just as she thinks she is almost free of it, it threatens to bring her life crashing down around her.

Tanika Gupta reimagines Ibsen’s classic play of gender politics through the lens of British colonialism, offering a bold, female perspective exploring themes of ownership and race.

Rachel O’Riordan makes her directorial debut as Artistic Director of the Lyric, in a production that gives new urgency to the forces that drive our heroine to choose between society’s expectations and her own identity.

The cast includes Anjana Vasan as Niru, with further casting to be announced.

Solaris – a new play by David Greig adapted from Stanislaw Lem’s cult science fiction novel, directed by Matthew Lutton and designed by Hyemi Shin – Thursday, October 10 to Saturday, November 2, 2019.

On a space station orbiting Solaris, three scientists have made contact with a new planet.

Sent from earth to investigate reports of abnormal activity on-board, Kris Kelvin arrives to find one crew member dead and two who are seeing things that cannot be explained.

When her dead lover appears to her, it seems she too has fallen victim to the mystery of this strange planet. Should she return to reality, or is this her chance to turn back time?

Have the crew been studying Solaris – or has it been studying them? This psychological thriller asks who we are when we’re forced to confront our deepest fears.

An international co-production, Solaris arrives at the Lyric direct from The Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh and Melbourne, Australia.

Casting to be announced.

Cinderella – written by Jude Christian, directed by Tinuke Craig and designed by Frankie Bradshaw – Saturday, November 16, 2019 to Sunday, January 5, 2020.

Jude Christian returns to write Cinderella following the success of last year’s panto Dick Whittington. She will be joined by director Tinuke Craig for her Lyric and panto debut, and members of the Lyric Ensemble in their first professional main stage production – an opportunity that has launched the careers of many young people in theatre.

Love, Love, Love – written by Mike Bartlett and directed by Rachel O’Riordan – Thursday, March 5 to Saturday, April 4, 2020.

It’s 1967. The Beatles are performing All You Need Is Love on global TV for the very first time. Kenneth and Sandra meet.

Love Love Love charts one couple’s journey forty years from the era of free love to the beginning of the 21st Century. Smoking, drinking, affectionate and paranoid, Kenneth and Sandra build their life and family together in a time of increasing national prosperity, when the future is always better than the past.

Now they’re retired and their children grown, but why hasn’t it all worked out the way they thought? What happens when the children you think you’ve done everything for, believe you haven’t done enough?

A family go to war over their personal politics in Mike Bartlett’s funny and scathing look at the opposing values of two very different generations.

Rachel O’Riordan directs a major revival of this award-winning play that’s now more relevant than ever.

Sophocles’ Antigone: The Burial At Thebes – translated by Seamus Heaney and directed by Roy Alexander Weise – Saturday, April 18 to Saturday, June 27, 2020.

The war has ended. Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, learns her brothers are dead. Forced onto opposing sides, they have killed each other in battle.

When Creon, King of Thebes, grants the honour of a burial to one but not the other, Antigone and her sister must choose where their loyalties lie.

This epic tale of humanity versus leadership centres on a young woman with the courage to defend her beliefs – whatever the cost.

Roy Alexander Weise directs Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney’s bold translation of Sophocles’ Antigone in a large scale production featuring a chorus of young performers from the Lyric Ensemble.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane – written by Martin McDonagh and directed by Rachel O’Riordan – Autumn 2020 (dates to be announced).

Set in the mountains of Connemara, County Galway, The Beauty Queen of Leenane tells the darkly comic tale of Maureen Folan, a plain, lonely woman in her early forties, and Mag, her manipulative ageing mother, whose interference in Maureen’s first and possibly final chance of a loving relationship sets in motion a train of events that leads inexorably towards the play’s final breathtaking conclusion.

Rachel O’Riordan directs a major London revival of this award-winning play by Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Lieutenant of Inishmore).

Also announced:

Partnership with Headlong

The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre is embarking on a new partnership with Headlong Theatre, who together plan to commission and produce major new work of scale from women writers for the Lyric Main House stage and for touring across the UK. The first production will be performed at the Lyric in January 2020.

The Little Lyric Autumn Season, for audiences aged under 11 years, includes the return of Raymond Brigg’s Father Christmas, along with the new sponsor of Little Lyric shows and classes, The Collective.

A new Artistic Associates team with Stuart Burt (Casting Director); Tinuke Craig (Director); Phillip McMahon (Playwright and Director); Nina Steiger (Dramaturg) and Simon Stephens (Playwright).

30,000 tickets in the season are £15 or under, with 5000 of these completely through the Lyric’s community ticket schemes such as Free First Night.

The Lyric’s commitment to reducing its impact on the environment continues with the introduction of e-tickets for all Main House shows.

A commitment to nurturing the next generation of artists with the Lyric Ensemble and Evolution Festival.

Image: Rachel O’Riordan and Sian Alexander, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre 2019. Photo credit: Helen Maybanks.