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Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr announce the first productions at the new Bridge Theatre

Nick Starr and Nicholas Hytner, photo by Helen Maybanks.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

LONDON Theatre Company, which was founded by Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, has announced the first productions at the new Bridge Theatre which opens in October 2017 on the river by Tower Bridge and City Hall.

They include Young Marx, a new comedy by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman; a promenade performance of Julius Caesar; and Nightfall by rising playwright and novelist Barney Norris.

The season opens with Young Marx. Directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Rory Kinnear as Marx and Oliver Chris as Engels, it runs from October 26 (previews from October 18) to December 31, 2017.

1850, and Europe’s most feared terrorist is hiding in Dean Street, Soho. Broke, restless and horny, the thirty-two-year-old revolutionary is a frothing combination of intellectual brilliance, invective, satiric wit, and child-like emotional illiteracy.

Creditors, spies, rival revolutionary factions and prospective seducers of his beautiful wife all circle like vultures. His writing blocked, his marriage dying, his friend Engels in despair at his wasted genius, his only hope is a job on the railway. But there’s still no one in the capital who can show you a better night on the piss than Karl Heinrich Marx.

The production reunites the creative team behind Richard Bean’s smash hit One Man, Two Guvnors, with direction by Nicholas Hytner, design by Mark Thompson, music by Grant Olding, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Paul Arditti.

Young Marx will be broadcast on National Theatre Live in December.

The second production, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, runs from January 30 (previews from January 20) to April 15, 2018.

Caesar returns in triumph to Rome and the people pour out of their homes to celebrate. Alarmed by the autocrat’s popularity, the educated élite conspire to bring him down. After his assassination, civil war erupts on the streets of the capital.

Nicholas Hytner’s production will be in promenade, thrusting its audience into the street party that greets Caesar’s return, the congress that witnesses his murder, the rally that assembles for his funeral and the chaos that explodes in its wake.

Ben Whishaw and Michelle Fairley play Brutus and Cassius, leaders of the coup, David Calder plays Caesar and David Morrissey is Mark Antony, who brings Rome back under control after the conspirators’ defeat.

Julius Caesar will be designed by Bunny Christie, with costumes by Christina Cunningham, music by Nick Powell, lighting by Bruno Poet and sound by Paul Arditti.

With seating wrapped around the action, there will also be 250 promenading tickets at £25 available in advance for each performance.

Julius Caesar will be broadcast on National Theatre Live in March 2018.

The third production will be the world premiere of Barney Norris’s Nightfall. Directed by Laurie Sansom, it runs from May 8 (previews from April 28) to June 3, 2018.

On a farm outside Winchester, Ryan struggles to make a living off the land. His sister Lou has returned home after the death of their father to support Jenny, their formidable mother. Not so long ago, when a neighbour’s Labrador strayed onto the farm, their dad reached for his shotgun. Now, when Lou’s boyfriend Pete reappears, flush with money from his job at an oil refinery, Jenny fights to hold her children to the life she planned for them.

Priority booking for all three productions opens today (April 19, 2017), with public booking from April 27. Prices range from £15 to £65 with a limited number of premium seats available.

From summer 2018, productions will include a new play by Lucinda Coxon based on the novel Alys, Always by Harriet Lane; a new play by Nina Raine about JS Bach, played by Simon Russell Beale; Flatpack, a new play by John Hodge; The Black Cloud, a new play by Sam Holcroft from the novel by Fred Hoyle; and Carmen Havana, a version of Bizet’s opera by Lucy Prebble with choreography by Miguel Altunaga and directed by Nicholas Hytner.

London Theatre Company, which was founded by Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr on leaving the National Theatre after twelve years, will focus on the commissioning and production of new shows, as well as staging the occasional classic. At The Bridge, it will present four or five new productions year-round, playing Tuesday to Sunday, plus a Monday night programme which will include intimate gigs, the live recording of a new podcast series and conversations on food, fashion, politics and science.

Backed by a small group of senior Venture Capital investors, LTC’s raison d’être is to create a culture, ethos and economic model that supports writers, directors, designers and actors to work at scale in a space that is complementary to those of the subsidised theatre and West End. In time LTC hopes to open more theatres in London, to be able to host productions from the subsidised theatre, and to transfer its own productions to the West End and beyond.

LTC commissioned the new theatre from architect Steve Tompkins. He and his colleague Roger Watts at Haworth Tompkins have designed a 900-seat adaptable auditorium that can respond to shows with different formats, among them end-stage, thrust-stage and promenade (each of which will be used in the course of the opening three productions).

The Bridge is the first wholly new theatre of scale to be added to London’s commercial theatre sector in 80 years, and the first to be built outside the historic West End. It has a stunning riverside location at the foot of Tower Bridge next to City Hall and is 5-10 minutes’ walk from the transport hub of London Bridge, whose new concourse opens onto Tooley Street in spring next year. The Bridge is situated in Berkeley Homes’ One Tower Bridge development amongst ten new restaurants opening this year.

Haworth Tompkins, who won the Stirling Prize in 2014 for the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, collaborated frequently with Nick Starr and Nicholas Hytner at the National Theatre, including on the recent NT refurbishment, the Shed and NT Studio and also with Nick Starr on the Almeida’s two temporary theatres at King’s Cross and at Gainsborough Studios.

Nicholas Hytner said: “We want to make bold popular theatre. We’ve commissioned ambitious plays that reach out to embrace the audience, and we’ve built an environment for them that is exciting, welcoming and flexible: a theatre that can be changed to suit the show. We reckon that London needs new theatres, designed for the shows that people make in the 21st century and the expectations that audiences have for a really good night out.”

Nick Starr said: “After the National Theatre, it was time for something new and scary. London is a brilliant city for making and seeing theatre, evidenced by the 25% increase in audiences over the last fifteen years. We think there’s room for a new independent on the scene, driven by both a mission and a bottom line. We hope that will resonate with artists and audiences, and are hugely looking forward to welcoming them to The Bridge.”