Pop legend David Essex will "get back to his roots" by starring in a play as part of Birmingham Repertory Theatre's 2014 season.
Essex, marking his first major theatre role in a play in over a decade, will appear in the European premiere of The Dishwashers by Canadian playwright Morris Panych.
The play, about "the Zen of dishwashing" is directed by Nikolai Foster, who recently worked with Essex on All the Fun of the Fair. The Dishwashers runs at the Rep from 31 January to 15 February before touring the UK.
At its centre will be a revival of Silbert's 2013 RSC production of A Life of Galileo, adapted by Ravenhill and starring Ian McDiarmid (28 February-4 March). This too will tour the UK after its opening in Birmingham.
Brecht's The Threepenny Opera (27 March-12 April) also comes to the main stage in an "anarchic new version" co-directed by Jenny Sealey and Peter Rowe. All performances will include live audio description and a creative combination of BSL interpretation and captioning plus an integrated cast of disabled and non-disabled performers.
Meanwhile, the first production in the new Studio space will be a revival of Bryony Lavery's Frozen (6-15 February), co-produced with the Fingersmiths Ltd. The play tells the story of ten-year-old Rhona's disappearance, and her mother and killer, who are linked by a doctor who is studying what causes men to commit such crimes.
And in a new collaboration with Told By An Idiot, Never Try This At Home (27 February-15 March) by Carl Grose, is a "homage to Saturday morning TV". Inspired by Saturday morning shows such as Tiswas and Going Live, the play re-unites the remaining survivors of an infamous TV show, Shushi, and throws the spotlight on the presenters, who soon realise the insidious side to fame.
Behzti author returns
Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, author of the headline-making Behzti, returns to The Rep with Khandan (Family) from 22 May to 7 June. Billed as "a bold, warm and extremely funny tale of contemporary extended family life", it's Gurpreet's third play for The Rep following Behsharam (Shameless) and Behzti (Dishonour).
Elsewhere, the world premiere of Rachel De-lahay's Circles, set on Birmingham's number 11 outer circle bus, takes place in The Door from 9 to 24 May.
And, marking 100 years since the start of the First World War, The Rep will present two productions, Birdsong by the Original Theatre Company (17-22 March) and War Correspondents (26 – 27 April) a new play based on interviews with correspondents covering Iraq, Chechnya, Georgia, Afghanistan and Bosnia by Helen Chadwick and Steven Hoggett (Black Watch).
Visiting productions include a new partnership with Dundee Rep, which will bring together Dundee's repertory ensemble and a company of Birmingham actors for Alan Ayckbourn's Woman in Mind (13-28 June).
The Spring/Summer 2014 season will also see work from Talawa Theatre and their co-production with the National Theatre of Errol John's ''Moon On A Rainbow Shawl'' (20- 22 February).
Roxana Silbert, artistic director, said: "The Rep has had an amazing 2013: we've celebrated our centenary as well as our re-opening alongside the Library of Birmingham. And we had an incredible 170,000 visitors to the building in the month of opening alone.
"Next year I'm commissioning work from new writers as well as existing major talent. I want to use our beautifully refurbished theatre to its full potential, to have it bursting with exciting work, people, exhibitions and to entice new audiences and thrill regular visitors."
Tickets for the new season go on sale to members on 22 October and to the general public on 25 October
- National Theatre
- Mark Ravenhill
- Roxana Silbert
- Birmingham Rep
- David Essex
- Bryony Lavery
- Jenny Sealey