Illness Forces Routledge Out of Exchange TimeDate: 30 October 2001
Patricia Routledge has had to pull out of the Manchester Royal Exchange's 25th anniversary season this autumn. The 72-year-old actress was due to star in a revival of JB Priestley's Time and the Conways, which runs from 5 December 2001 to 19 January 2002, but has been forced to withdraw due to ill health. Her role as grand matriarch Mrs Conway will now be played by Gabrielle Drake.
In a statement, Routledge commented: "It saddens me very much that I am obliged to withdraw from the production of this beautiful play in a theatre and a city that holds a special place in my affections. I am certain that audiences will respond to this illuminating and poignant family story with genuine warmth and take this gifted company to their hearts."
A spokesperson for the Royal Exchange told Whatsonstage.com that Routledge's condition was not serious, but that doctors had advised her that the rigours of the stage production were too demanding for her at this time.
Time and the Conways is the third play in the Exchange's 25th anniversary season, following Uncle Vanya starring Tom Courtenay and the current production of Hedda Gabler, with Amanda Donohoe in the title role.
In the Priestley piece, a family celebrates their 1919 reunion at the end of the Great War with hope and optimism, but a fast-forward to 1938 finds bitterness and blight have befallen the Conway children. In 1973, the Exchange mounted the first major revival of this 1937 play. The new production of Time and the Conways, is directed by Braham Murray.
Time and the Conways will be followed in the season schedule by a new production of Harold Pinter's 1965 classic The Homecoming, starring Pete Postlethwaite, runs from 23 January to 2 March 2002. The second half of the Royal Exchange's 25th anniversary season will be announced in early December 2001.
Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre was officially opened by Lord Olivier in the autumn of 1976. Twenty-five years, 224 original productions and one bomb later, the Exchange - described by the Financial Times as the "National Theatre of the North" - is widely regarded as one of the country's most important producing theatres.
- by Terri Paddock