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New Donmar season - Sir Ian McKellen to make debut



Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THEATREGOERS now have five new productions to look forward to at London's Donmar Warehouse.

Starting on July 20, 2005 is Mary Stuart, starring Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter. It will run until September 3, 2005.

Newly announced is Christopher Hampton's The Philanthropist which will run from September 8 to October 15, 2005. Leading the cast will be Simon Russell Beale who was last seen at the Donmar in the award-winning double bill of Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night.

A 'bourgeois comedy' written in response to Moliere's The Misanthrope, The Philanthropist finds a bachelor don striving to please his academic friends while struggling with sex, marriage, anagrams and the meaning of life. All this after the Prime Minister and his cabinet have been assassinated and England's favourite writers are being systematically killed off.

Hampton's other works include the highly-acclaimed Les Liaisons Dangereuses and The Talking Cure.

The Philanthropist is followed from October 20 to December 3, 2005, by Sam Shepard's The God of Hell, which will be directed by Kathy Burke.

A black comedy described by Shepard as 'a take-off on Republican fascism', The God of Hell introduces audiences to dairy farmers Frank and Emma whose lives are uneventful. Until that is, they find a mysterious man hiding in their basement and government officials knocking at their door.

To date, Shepard has written 45 plays, eleven of which have won Obie awards. He was also awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Buried Child which, only last year, was staged at the National Theatre. Another of his plays, The Late Henry Moss, can be seen at the Almeida from January 12 to March 4, 2006.

Next up and running from December 8, 2005, to February 18, 2006, will be David Eldridge's new version of Ibsen's The Wild Duck, which will be directed by the Donmar's artistic director, Michael Grandage, who is currently presiding over Guys and Dolls.

Ibsen's drama follows the son of a wealthy businessman as he strives to uncover his father's duplicity and free his childhood friend from the lies on which his life is based.

Earlier this year, Eldridge adapted Festen for the Lyric Theatre.

Finally, Grandage will direct Mark Ravenhill's new play, The Cut which will run from February 23 to April 1, 2006, and star Sir Ian McKellen (pictured) in his Donmar debut.

The story revolves around Paul, a man with a shocking secret.

Ravenhill's previous plays include Shopping and F**king, Some Explicit Polaroids and most recently, Mother Clap's Molly House.

Mckellen, who is widely regarded as one of Britain's finest stage actors, recently fulfilled two of his life's ambitions - playing Widow Twankey in the pantomime, Aladdin, and appearing in Coronation Street.

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