Fiennes & Griffiths in Double Dose of Classics???Date: 18 July 2008
Sam Mendes, with his Bridge Project (See News, 30 May 2008), isn’t the only man intent on reviving a starry double-header of classic plays in the West End from next year. Producers David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers - whose recent hits include Equus, God of Carnage and, still running at The Cinema on the Haymarket, Kneehigh’s Brief Encounter - have a scheme up their sleeves which will not only bring the likes of their former big-name employees Richard Griffiths, Ralph Fiennes and Ken Stott back to Shaftesbury Avenue in some dreamy revivals but will do so with a historical nod to the golden age of the West End.
If all goes to plan, in late 2009, Griffiths will star in Arthur Wing Pinero’s 1885 English farce The Magistrate, directed by Thea Sharrock, who also directed him in Equus, which he’ll reprise this autumn on Broadway with Daniel Radcliffe. Then Fiennes and Stott, who recently finished co-starring in God of Carnage, will reunite in early 2010 for Chekhov’s 1899 drama Uncle Vanya, directed by Matthew Warchus, who also helmed Carnage. No theatre has yet been booked, but a likely home would be the Gielgud - which was also where both Equus and God of Carnage ran, so the actors should feel at home.
Pugh and Rogers plan to run the classic revivals under the banner of HM Tennent Ltd, a name that once dominated the West End and is still recalled fondly by those in the know. Tennent and his protégé Hugh “Binkie” Beaumont founded their production company in 1936 and, after Tennent died in 1941, Beaumont ran it until his own death in 1973. The company’s specialism was putting on productions of traditional “well-made plays” performed by some of the biggest-name actors of the day. (Beaumont famously disdained the arrival of kitchen sink dramas and the “angry young men”. He walked out at the interval of the 1956 premiere of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger.)
David Pugh told Daily Mail columnist Baz Bamigboye that he bought the HM Tennent name for £150 a few years ago as a joke on a slow day, but that his tribute was serious nonetheless. “It’s a wink to ourselves in the theatre. It’s also a respectful nod to Binkie Beaumont, and while we’re no way in his league, and we’re certainly not worthy, it’s a fitting way to use the HM Tennent name again.”