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The year ahead at north London's Almeida Theatre



Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

NORTH London's Almeida Theatre has recently announced its forthcoming productions - from September 2005 to June 2006.

The season opens with David Mamet's Romance, which runs from September 14 to October 22, 2005. Described as 'a satirical courtroom farce', it tackles wide-ranging subjects from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to sexual fidelity.

It received its world premiere in February of this year, at Off-Broadway's Atlantic Theater Company which Mamet co-founded 20 years ago with actor, William H Macy.

It will star British-born actor, John Mahoney who is probably best-known as Father Marty Crane from TV's Frasier - a role he played from the show's inception in 1993 to its final episode in 2004.

Mahoney has though, appeared many times on stage - in The Dresser, Death and the Maiden, Of Mice and Men and Absent Friends - all in Chicago; and in The Man Who Came to Dinner at London's Barbican, in 1998.

His film credits too, are numerous and include Moonstruck, Barton Fink, In the Line of Fire, The Hudsucker Proxy and Primal Fear.

Romance will be directed by Lindsay Posner whose recent West End productions include another of Mamet's works, Sexual Perversity in Chicago (which starred Matthew Perry and Minnie Driver); Oleanna and A Life in the Theatre (with Patrick Stewart and Joshua Jackson).

This will, in fact, be the first time the Almeida has featured Mamet whose other stage works include Glengarry Glen Ross (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and currently being revived on Broadway), American Buffalo and Speed-the-Plow.

Posner will also direct the season's second production - Richard Bean's new version of Moliere's 1673 play, The Hypochondriac (or as it sometimes called, The Imaginary Invalid), which will run from November 17, 2005 (previews from November 10) to January 7, 2006.

 

Hypochondriac, a character-based comedy, is about Argon who just loves to be sick.

Third up and from January 12 to March 4, 2006, will be Sam Shepard's The Late Henry Moss, which will be produced by Michael Attenborough, in his third season as artistic director of the Almeida.

After a long absence, two brothers return to their home near the Mexican border. A confrontation ensues and family secrets are revealed.

Shepard, an accomplished film and stage actor, has to date, written 45 plays, including True West, Fool for Love and Buried Child which only last year, was revived at the NT. Like Glengarry Glen Ross, it was winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

The Late Henry Moss is followed, from March 16 (previews from March 9) to April 29, 2006, by Howard Davies' revival of Tennessee Williams' 1960 play, Period of Adjustment, in what will be its first staging since 1962 - the same year that the film version, starring a young Jane Fonda, was released in cinemas.

The story takes place over a 24 hour period, as Korean war veteran George Haverstick and his new bride, drive to Florida in an old hearse, to visit one of George's old comrades.

Like Mamet and Shepard, Williams is also the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize - two in fact, for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire. His other plays include The Glass Menagerie, Sweet Bird of Youth and The Night of the Iguana.

The 2005/2006 season concludes with Attenborough's production of David Hare's new version of Gorky's 1906 play, Enemies, which will run from May 11 to June 24, 2006.

Originally outlawed in his native Russia, Gorky's drama is set on a provincial family estate where the liberal-minded owner's brother is killed in a scuffle with one of the workers.

Gorky's other plays include Summerfolk, The Lower Depths and Children of the Sun.

The current production, Blood Wedding, featuring Mexican screen star Gael Garcia Bernal, completes its sell-out run on June 25, 2005, and will be followed, from June 29 to July 9, by the annual Almeida Opera Season.

Footnote: It has just been announced that Stephen Dillane's solo interpretation of Macbeth will be staged for just 10 performances, from October 28 to November 5 (previews from October 26).

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