Mirren & Hytner Reunite at Donmar, 27 JunDate: 26 June 2000
The Donmar Warehouse's revival of Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending opens tomorrow night, 27 June, and continues until 12 August 2000. The production reunites director Nicholas Hytner and star Helen Mirren on stage for the first time since Alan Bennett's hugely successful play The Madness of George III nearly a decade ago.
Mirren plays Lady, a lonely shopkeeper's wife condemned to a loveless marriage and a life of tedium in a dusty old store in a god-forsaken deep Southern town. Stuart Townsend plays Val, the magnetic and mysterious stranger who descends into town, with his snakeskin coat and guitar, to snatch Lady back from the depths of hell. The pair star alongside Saskia Reeves in a cast that also includes Sandra Dickinson, Richard Durden, Janet Henfrey, William Hootkins, Tom Hunsiger, Kristin Marks, Martin Potter, Anne Ridler, Jason Salkey, Lolly Susi and Julia Swift.
Written in 1957, Orpheus Descending reflects Tennessee Williams' own youth, placing an eccentric mix of outcasts, tormented souls and rebels against a background of small town bigotry and intolerance.
Hytner and Mirren worked together on both the film and stage versions of Alan Bennett's tale of royal insanity - the National's production of The Madness of George III in 1991 and the Hollywood adaptation, The Madness of King George, in 1994. Mirren's most recent stage credits include Donald Margulies' Collected Stories at the Haymarket and the National's production of Antony and Cleopatra, with Alan Rickman. In addition to The Madness of King George, Mirren's film work includes Where Angels Fear to Tread, Mosquito Coast, The Long Good Friday, Caligula and The Passion of Ayn Rand. But she's probably still best known to television audiences for her role in Prime Suspect, for which she won four BAFTA Best Actress Awards and an Emmy Best Actress Award.
Nicholas Hytner's many stage productions for the RNT, RSC and in the West End also include Carousel, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Miss Saigon, The Importance of Being Earnest and, most recently, Nicholas Wright's Cressida, starring Michael Gambon at the Albery, and Alan Bennett's The Lady in the Van, starring Maggie Smith, which finishes its extended run at the Queen's Theatre next month.
Orpheus Descending is Hytner's debut production for the Donmar Warehouse and the theatre's first production of a Tennessee Willliams' play since its award-winning revival of The Glass Menagerie in 1993. Orpheus Descending is designed by Bob Crowley with lighting by Hugh Vanstone, music by Keith Williams and sound by John Leonard and Fergus O' Hare.