Almeida Returns to Malvern Festival FridayDate: 11 August 1999
For the second year running, the Almeida Theatre company will take up residence in the Midlands town of Malvern to run an alternative summer theatre festival to the world-renowned Edinburgh Fringe, which opened this past weekend in Scotland.
Whereas the Edinburgh Fringe, the world's largest arts festival, boasts a programme of some 1,346 shows, including theatre along with comedy, music, dance, opera and all sorts, the Malvern festival will feature just two plays (although likely to be of a more consistent quality) over two weeks, starting from this Friday, 13 August and continuing to 28 August 1999.
Almeida productions of both Marivaux' The Triumph of Love, which has already previewed at the company's home in Islington, north London, and Marlowe's The Jew of Malta will be mounted at Malvern as part of regional tours prior to London runs.
James Macdonald (whose credits include Sarah Kane's Cleansed and Nick Grosso's Real Classy Affair at the Royal Court) directs Martin Crimp's new version of The Triumph of Love, Marivaux' erotic comedy of cross-dressing, seduction and uncontrollable passion. In order to give away her kingdom, a princess (Helen McCrory, who starred last year in the Donmar Warehouse production of Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive) sets out to seduce her deadliest enemy. The Triumph of Love is designed by Jeremy Herbert, with lighting by Nigel Edwards and sound by John A Leonard.
Ian McDiarmid, the Almeida's joint artistic director, stars as Barabas in The Jew of Malta, directed by Michael Grandage (who recently directed Charles Dance in Good at the Donmar). In Marlowe's black satire on greed and religious hypocrisy, the Christian rulers of the island of Malta are heavilty indebted to the Turks. Barabas, a rich Jewish merchant, is robbed of his wealth and possessions in a bid to raise cash, and he embarks on a course of treachery in retaliation. The Jew of Malta is designed by Christopher Oram with music by Julian Phillips.
The Triumph of Love runs at Malvern 24 to 28 August before transferring to the Almeida's home in Islington where it opens 2 September (previews from 31 August) and continues until 25 September. The Jew of Malta runs at Malvern from 13 to 18 August and continues to Bath (24-28 August), Oxford (14-18 September), Poole (21-25 September) and London (28 September to 6 November).
The Almeida has significantly scaled back its presence in Malvern, from four major new productions, including two world premieres, last year to two smaller scale affairs this year, indicating perhaps that the tradition of migrating to Edinburgh come August is just too well entrenched for theatre followers.