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Vieux Carré transfers to Charing Cross Theatre

Samantha Coughlan (Jane) and Tom Ross-Williams (Writer). Photo credit: Tim Medley.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE KING’S Head Theatre’s acclaimed revival of Tennessee Williams’ autobiographical play Vieux Carré, which ended a sold-out run on Saturday, is transferring to Charing Cross Theatre, where it runs from Tuesday, August 14 to Saturday, September 1, 2012.

Hildegard Neil will take over the central role of Mrs Wire and the show will be redirected for the new theatre.

Director Robert Chevara said: “This transfer is an exciting and inspired vindication of the play and of our production. Vieux Carré is a play I believe in passionately as a great piece of theatre and a seminal late work by Tennessee Williams. We see here a master at the top of his game, who experimented with style and content until the end of his life.

“The later plays don’t have the same linear drive as A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but they experiment with form, style and narrative in an equally thrilling way. Misunderstood at the time, today the diverse and visionary influences of avant-garde theatre, Ortonesque slapstick and Theatre of the Absurd make these late pieces feel incredibly modern and edgy.

“Hildegard Neil, who played Miss Carrie, one of the starving old ladies, at the King’s Head Theatre, is taking over the role of Mrs Wire. We are thrilled to have an actress of her stature assuming this pivotal leading role. It is one of the pillars of the production and she brings to it glamour, command and integrity.

“On film, Hildegard played Cleopatra opposite Charlton Heston in his wonderful 1972 version of Antony and Cleopatra and the lead in Graham Greene’s England Made Me opposite Michael York and Peter Finch. On stage, she was a leading company member at the RSC throughout the 1960s and 1970s. She is married to the distinguished actor Brian Blessed.

“The play will take a totally different direction with Hildegard as Mrs Wire and I will re-interpret it for the unique and much larger new space of the Charing Cross Theatre.”

Tickets: £16 – £19.50; £10 preview (Tuesday, August 14) – available from the box office on 020 7907 7075 or online at

Time: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm.

Previously Posted: The first London revival in 30 years of Tennessee Williams’ autobiographical play, Vieux Carré, runs at the King’s Head Theatre from July 13 (previews from July 10) to August 4, 2012.

Vieux Carré is about an aspiring young writer, and the bizarre, poignant and funny characters he encounters at a New Orleans boarding house.

Written with his characteristic passion and compassion for the damaged and dispossessed, Vieux Carré is in many ways the condensation of all Tennessee Williams’ plays, yet it is unique in its depiction of his loneliness, despair and longing for something new.

Many of his other great plays delve into his mother’s story, or the events of his sister Rose’s tragic life – Vieux Carré is a search for Williams’ own truth as he tried to understand it.

Stripped bare of the huge sets and endless scene changes that have dwarfed previous productions, the inmates of ‘722 Toulouse Street’ in the French Quarter of New Orleans will come into dazzlingly sharp focus.

Paul Standell (Tye) and Tom Ross-Williams (The Writer). Photo credit: Yijing Li.

They include Mrs Wire, the young writer’s demented, manipulative landlady; Nightingale, an older, predatory, tubercular artist who refuses to accept his condition; Jane, a New Rochelle society girl dying of leukemia; her sexually ambiguous, drug-addicted lover Tye, who works as a bouncer in a strip club; Mary Maud and Miss Carrie, two eccentric elderly women who literally are starving to death; and a gay photographer with a passion for orgies.

Robert Chevara directs a cast that includes Samantha Coughlan, Nancy Crane, Eva Fontaine, Anna Kirke, Jack McMillan, Hildegard Neil, Paul Standell, David Whitworth and Tom Ross Williams.

Vieux Carré is designed by Nicolai Hart-Hansen, with costume design by Jonathan Lipman.

Vieux Carré Gallery