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Old Vic recreates its theatre-in-the-round for 2014

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE OLD Vic is presenting the UK premiere of Jon Robin Baitz’s acclaimed play Other Desert Cities, directed by Lindsay Posner. The first in a season of productions to be presented in-the-round, it runs at the south London venue from March 24 (previews from March 13) to May 24, 2014.

Other Desert Cities is a fierce and funny drama deftly exploring family politics, love, loss and redemption.

Brooke Wyeth returns to the family home in Palm Springs for the first time in six years with some incendiary news for her Republican parents Polly and Lyman, her brother Trip and her recovering alcoholic aunt Silda. She is about to publish a memoir about her family, exposing a pivotal moment in their painful and explosive past, her actions threatening to push fractured family relations to a point beyond repair.

Other Desert Cities was first seen in 2010 at New York’s Lincoln Center, where it won the Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play before enjoying even greater success on Broadway and gaining five nominations for the 2012 Tony Awards. Other Desert Cities was also a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Jon Robin Baitz is a celebrated American playwright, screenwriter and television producer. He is perhaps best known in this country for his internationally successful TV series, Brothers and Sisters, about a wealthy Californian family who grapple with love, loss and living in the modern age.

His plays include: The Substance of Fire, A Fair Country and Ten Unknowns (all produced at the Lincoln Center), The Paris Letter, The Film Society, Mizlansky/Zilinski and Three Hotels as well as a new version of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler.

Lindsay Posner’s most recent directing credit at the Old Vic was Terence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy starring Henry Goodman, which transferred to New York in October, where it enjoyed a critically acclaimed run at the Roundabout Theater. His productions of Noises Off (Old Vic/West End) toured theatres across the UK and Ireland from March to July 2013.

From 1987 to 1992, Posner was Associate Director at the Royal Court where his production of Death and the Maiden won two Olivier Awards. His numerous other credits include Butley (Duchess Theatre), An Ideal Husband and Uncle Vanya (Vaudeville Theatre), A View from the Bridge (Duke of York’s Theatre), Carousel and Fiddler on the Roof (Savoy Theatre) and House of Games, The Hypochondriac, Tom and Viv and Mamet’s Romance (Almeida Theatre).

Other Desert Cities is designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, with lighting by Peter Mumford and music by Michael Bruce. Casting has yet to be announced.

Other Desert Cities reprises the transformation of the Old Vic’s auditorium into the round, first seen for the award-winning 2008 production of The Norman Conquests.

Mike Poulton’s adaptation of Turgenev’s savagely funny play, Fortune’s Fool, starring Iain Glen and Richard McCabe, continues at the Old Vic until February 22, 2014.