Hall Marks Godot’s 50th in Third Bath Rep SeasonDate: 15 April 2005
Sir Peter Hall has announced details of his third annual repertory season – with casting, confirmed to date, to include Edward Fox, Janie Dee, Greta Scacchi, Sam Kelly, Diana Quick, Alan Dobie and Richard Dormer - at the Theatre Royal Bath.
The Peter Hall Company will return to Bath for an 11-week season, from 22 June to 3 September 2005, with what Hall describes as “a season of high comedy, presenting four undoubted masterpieces”: Noel Coward’s Private Lives and, as previously tipped (See The Goss, 28 Feb 2005), Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, George Bernard Shaw’s You Never Can Tell and the 50th anniversary production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
Following her success with last year’s Peter Hall Company revival of Coward’s Blithe Spirit - which transferred to the West End’s Savoy Theatre, where it continues until the end of May - Thea Sharrock will direct the playwright’s Private Lives, running in Bath from 22 June to 2 August 2005. While honeymooning in Deauville, divorcees Elyot and Amanda are at first horrified to find themselves contemplating the sea view from adjacent hotel balconies, but their passion is promptly reignited.
Private Lives was first performed in 1929 with Coward himself playing Elyot, Gertrude Lawrence as Amanda and the young Laurence Olivier. More recently, it has been revived with Juliet Stevenson and Anton Lesser playing the leads at the National in 1999 and Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman in the multi award-winning 2002 West End revival which transferred to Broadway. For Bath, Greta Scacchi (Presumed Innocent, White Mischief, Heat and Dust on screen, Mata Hari, The Guardsman, Uncle Vanya on stage) is so far confirmed to play Amanda.
Joining Private Lives in repertory, Hall’s own first-ever production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing will run from 29 June to 6 August 2005. Double Olivier Award winner Janie Dee – who starred in Hall’s 2003 production of Betrayal, which transferred to the West End after its Bath season – will play Beatrice who swaps insults with Benedick. The cast will also feature Sam Kelly (most recently seen on stage in Aladdin at the Old Vic and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) as Dogberry.
Hall’s production of Shaw’s 1899 play You Never Can Tell runs at Bath from 10 August to 3 September 2005 ahead of a planned tour. The enlightened Mrs Lanfrey Clandon and her three unconventional children have returned to England after 18 years of living abroad. While staying at a seaside hotel in Torbay, the family bump into the staunchly traditional father they’d previously abandoned. Diana Quick (most recently seen on stage in Anna in the Tropics, After Mrs Rochester, Ghosts) will play Mrs Clandon with Edward Fox (The Old Masters, The Winslow Boy, The Browning Version, A Letter of Resignation) as the all-knowing waiter who sees everything.
The 2005 repertory season concludes with the 50th anniversary revival of Samuel Beckett’s modern masterpiece Waiting for Godot, which will also be directed by Hall, who, early in his career, directed the play’s English-language world premiere in 1955 at London’s Arts Theatre, where he was artistic director at the time.
Two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, are waiting on a deserted road. As they pass the time, they ask the question: “Will Mr Godot ever come?”. In the National Theatre’s NT2000 poll, theatre professionals voted Waiting for Godot the most significant English language play of the 20th century. So far confirmed for the Bath cast are Alan Dobie (who played Estragon in Hall’s 1998 West End production at the Piccadilly Theatre) and Richard Dormer (Hurricane).
Previously, Hall’s plan was to bring the 50th anniversary production back home to the Arts Theatre for a limited season following Bath, but the West End transfer has been blocked by the Barbican Centre, which has acquired the London performance rights for a Beckett season in spring 2006 (See The Goss, 28 Mar 2005). It’s still hoped that Hall’s revival will secure a life beyond its two-and-a-half weeks at the Theatre Royal Bath, although no further dates have yet been announced.
- by Terri Paddock