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The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui - Lenny Henry stars at the Donmar Warehouse

Lenny Henry in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at The Donmar Warehouse.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

A REVIVAL of Bertolt Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, with Lenny Henry in the title role, runs at the Donmar Warehouse from May 2 (previews from April 21) to June 17, 2017.

Chicago! A city of jazz and gangsters, prohibition and poverty. Amongst the murk of the Great Depression, there’s room for a small time crook like Arturo Ui to make a name for himself.

Ui and his henchmen just want to look after you, to offer protection for workers, for jobs, for businesses. Nothing to fear. But a little bribery here, some harmless corruption there, and soon something much more dangerous takes hold.

Brecht’s satirical masterpiece about the rise of a demagogue will be given a new translation by Pulitzer, Olivier and Tony Award-winning American playwright, Bruce Norris. Simon Evans directs and sound designer and composer is Ed Lewis.

Lenny Henry, who makes his Donmar Warehouse debut in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, made his West End acting debut in the role of Othello in the Northern Broadsides production at the Trafalgar Studios. His portrayal won him critical acclaim and the London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Newcomer. His other theatre credits include Fences (on tour and West End), Rudy’s Rare Records (Birmingham Rep and Hackney Empire) and The Comedy of Errors (National Theatre).

Lenny Henry has been a comedian since the age of 16, finding fame as a comedy impressionist on 70’s TV talent show, New Faces. His other television work includes TISWAS, Three of a Kind, The Lenny Henry Show, Hope & Glory, Lenny Henry in Pieces, Chef! and the Saturday night BBC1 show, The Magicians. He has also completed many sell-out live stand-up tours in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

On radio, Henry worked for three years as a DJ on BBC Radio 1. He has also worked extensively for Radio 4, starring in the comedy Rudy’s Rare Records, writing the Radio 4 play Corinne Come Back and Gone and presenting the series Lenny and Will.

Bruce Norris is the author of the Clybourne Park, which won the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards (London) for Best Play, 2010, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 2011, and the Tony Award for Best Play in 2012. His other plays include The Infidel (2000), Purple Heart (2002), We All Went Down to Amsterdam (2003), The Pain and the Itch (2004), The Unmentionables (2006) and The Qualms (2014), all of which had their premieres at Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago.

His recent productions include The Low Road (2013 at the Royal Court Theatre), Domesticated (2013 at Lincoln Center Theatre), and The Qualms at Playwrights Horizons in 2015. He lives in New York.

Simon Evans was Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse working on Richard II, Inadmissible Evidence, Anna Christie, Luise Miller, Moonlight and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He directed Silence of the Sea for the Donmar at Trafalgar Studios Season. He was Staff Director at the Royal National Theatre, Creative Associate at the Bush Theatre and Associate Director at the White Bear Theatre. He is Creative Director of Myriad & Co.

As director, Evans’ work includes The Dazzle, Bug and Fool for Love (Found111), Alligators (Hampstead Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Go People/Soutwark Playhouse), Almost Mine (Park Theatre), The Vanishing Man (The Vaults and UK Tour), Hannah (Unicorn Theatre), Speed Twins, Apple Pie and Hours Till Autumn (Riverside Studio), Rubber Room (Old Vic), Madness in Valencia (Trafalgar Studios) and Skyscraper (Public, New York).

As Associate Director, his work includes The Duchess of Malfi (Old Vic) and Finding Neverland (Weinstein Live Entertainment).

Read more about the Donmar’s Spring 2017, which includes Limehouse.