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We Happy Few aim to bring some West End cheer



Preview by Jack Foley

HUSBAND and wife team, Trevor Nunn (director) and Imogen Stubbs (actress) are to re-team, professionally, for the West End premiere of Stubbs' play, We Happy Few.

The keenly-anticipated production is due to open at the Gielgud Theatre, on June 29, with a cast including Juliet Stevenson, Patsy Palmer and Kate O-Mara.

The play was first seen as part of the Remembrance Day Festival, at the Malvern Theatre, last Autumn and is inspired by the true wartime history of The Osiris Players - a small group of women who formed a troupe, in order to take Shakespeare’s plays to a culture-starved country, in a bid to improve morale.

The troupe in question was comprised of individuals from varying social backgrounds, who seemed mis-matched, to say the least.

They travelled around the country, at the height of Hitler’s bombing campaign, in an old 1920s Rolls Royce.

The production looks set to become another success to add to Nunn’s impressive CV of work so far.

Until March last year, he was artistic director of The National Theatre, and has since overseen the transfer of his South Bank production of Anything Goes to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

He has regularly collaborated with Stubbs (currently to be seen as Gertrude, in Hamlet), most notably in the National Theatre’s revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, in 1999, and the 1996 film version of Twelfth Night, which co-starred Helena Bonham-Carter and Sir Ben Kingsley.

Stubbs, too, is no West End stranger, having appeared, most recently, in Mum’s The Word (at The Albery), which, coincidentally, co-starred former EastEnders star, Patsy Palmer.

Another notable cast member, however, is Juliet Stevenson, whose appearance marks a rare West End outing.

Despite once being a regular at the RSC, where her roles included Miss Chasen in Nunn's production of Once In a Lifetime, she has kept her stage appearances limited.

Highlights of her stage career include being a member of the original London cast of Death and the Maiden, at the Royal Court's Theatre Upstairs, and opposite Hollywood star, John Malkovich, in Burn This.

She has since appeared in blockbuster films, such as Mona Lisa Smile (alongside Julia Roberts) and Being Julia, with Annette Bening, as wekk as television's Hear The Silence, about the MMR vaccine.

The cast is rounded out by Marcia Warren (Humble Boy), Kate O’Mara (The Marquise), Caroline Blakiston, Paul Bentley, Adam Davy and Cat Simmons.

We Happy Few will also be notable for reuniting the creative team of director, Nunn, with designer, John Napier, as well as lighting designer, David Hersey, who previously united on productions including Nicholas Nickleby, Cats and Les Miserables.

The current show is produced by Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt.

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