Abigail Revival Caps Hampstead's Final SeasonDate: 4 December 2001
Hampstead Theatre's final season in its current building will include three world premieres, one European premiere, a London premiere and a 25th anniversary production of Mike Leigh's classic, Abigail's Party. The 2002 schedule caps off 40 years in the Hampstead's "temporary" north London venue, after which the company will move into a new state-of-the-art facility.
The season kicks off with the European premiere of the award-winning American play, Dead Eye Boy, which was seen Off-Broadway earlier this year. Angus Maclachlan's piece revolves around Billy and Shirley - hungry for each other after a lifetime addicted to self-destruction - and Shirley's teenage son Soren, who has other concerns. Directed by Jennie Darnell, Dead Eye Boy runs from 21 January to 9 February 2002 (previews from 17 January).
It's followed by the world premiere of Simon Block's Hand in Hand, from 20 February to 16 March (previews from 14 February). A Hampstead theatre commission, Hand in Hand follows Block's Chimps and A Place at the Table at the Hampstead. His other plays include Not a Game for Boys (Royal Court). Hand in Hand, directed by Gemma Bodinetz, chronicles a young man's return to battle-torn Israel.
Peter Straughan's Bones comes third in the schedule, running 22 March to 13 April (previews from 22 March). A co-production with Live Theatre, it will first be seen in Newcastle. Set in the 1960s, Bones is a comedy about two brothers whose cosy lives as proprietors of a small porn cinema are turned upside down when a London gangster arrives. It is directed by Max Roberts.
Following an additional production, yet to be confirmed (from 18 April to 1 June), After the Gods, by Steve Waters, will start the summer schedule. Also directed by Bodinetz, it will run 11 June to 6 July (previews from 6 June). In After the Gods, a complex web of gender politics, sexual experiment and professional rivalry unfolds at an academic conference.
The season concludes with an anniversary revival of Mike Leigh's multi award-winning Abigail's Party. Originally produced by Hampstead in 1977, starring Alison Steadman (pictured), a film version of the play later became a cult hit on television and spawned stage productions across the world. Now considered a modern classic, it is a GCSE set text. In Leigh’s play about the nouveau riche, embarrassment, hysteria and pathos are served up when Beverley and Laurence invite the neighbours round for drinks and pretensions. The 2002 production is directed by David Grindley.
Hampstead's new state-of-the-art facility, construction of which began in October, is due to be completed in late 2002. It will be the first new stand-alone producing theatre to be built in London since the National opened in 1976. The Hampstead's current prefab structure, which was only ever meant to be temporary, has housed the theatre for nearly 40 years.
- by Terri Paddock