As the National Theatre prepares to mount the world premiere of David Hare's new satire about life under New Labour (See News, 23 Jan 2003), Birmingham Rep readies the regional premiere of Hare's renowned 1993 state-of-the-nation trilogy - comprising Racing Demon, The Absence of War and Murmuring Judges - which will run from 7 March to 19 April 2003.

The trilogy, first performed at the National a decade ago under the direction of then NT artistic director Richard Eyre, will be performed in repertoire by a single company that includes Malcolm Storry (recently seen in The Caretaker and the RSC productions of The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra) and Jack Shepherd (Glengarry Glenross, The Futurists at the National, TV's Wycliffe.

David Hare is famous for his political plays and the 'state of the nation' trilogy is no exception. All three pieces put an institution under the microscope - the church, the Labour party and the law. What emerges is a portrait of a ritualistic society with no core beliefs or moral fibre.

Hare's many other plays include The Blue Room, Plenty, Skylight, Pravda, Via Dolorosa (his one-man show, which he also performed, about the Israeli/Palestinian crisis) and, currently starring Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in the West End, The Breath of Life, nominated for several of this year's Theatregoers' Choice Awards (click here to vote).

In the trilogy cast, Storry and Shepherd are joined by Carolyn Backhouse, John Hodginkinson, Paul Kemp, Tim Kightley, Paul Raffield and Hugh Ross. The Birmingham productions are co-directed by Rep artistic director Jonathan Church and Rachel Kavanaugh (whose recent credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor for the RSC and the Open Air Theatre's Award-winning production of Love's Labour's Lost) and designed by Ruari Murchison, with lighting by Nick Beadle and music by Matthew Scott.

Commenting on the regional premiere of the full trilogy, Church said: "Since production Racing Demon in Salisbury in 1998, it has been a dream of mine to put a company of actors together to re-look at this epic trilogy in a post-Conservative climate, which provides a new perspective on the plays."

During the season, there will be two 'trilogy days' - on 12 and 19 April 2003 - when audiences can see all three plays sequentially on the same day. Throughout, Birmingham Rep will also be holding additional events aimed at promoting discussion, including 'debate nights' and several post-show Q&A's with Hare himself.

- by Hannah Khalil & Terri Paddock