McKellen Dances Back to London in Death in MarchDate: 22 November 2002
Sir Ian McKellen will return to the London stage for the first time in five years when he brings August Strindberg's Dance of Death to the West End early next year (See The Goss, 20 Feb 2002). The production of the new translation, by American playwright Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out, Three Days of Rain, is due to open at the Lyric Theatre on 4 March 2003, following previews from 20 February (dates to be confirmed).
McKellen appeared in Dance of Death on Broadway last year when it opened just days after the 11 September terrorist attacks. Despite the unfortunate timing, the production - which also starred Helen Mirren and was directed by fellow Brit Sean Mathias - received critical acclaim and fared well during its four-month season. In London, the play will receive an all-new production, though directed once again by Mathias.
McKellen (pictured with Mirren, who is not due to appear in the UK production) was last seen in London in the 1997 showings of Enemy of the People and Peter Pan at the National. The following year, the multi award-winning actor publicly decried West End audiences and declared he was ready to get back to "proper", ie regional, theatre. He signed up to a repertory season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, where he appeared in a triple bill of Present Laughter, The Tempest and The Seagull. Since then, McKellen has mainly been tied up with film commitments, most notably, The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Dance of Death revolves around husband and wife Edgar (McKellen) and Alice who, at home in "Little Hell", are preparing for their 25th wedding anniversary when a figure from their past reappears. Further casting details for the London production are expected shortly.
- by Terri Paddock