Just ahead of Matthew Warchus’ revival of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame opens at West End’s Albery Theatre (See News, 15 Dec 2003), a new play about the Irish playwright’s troubled relationship with novelist James Joyce’s daughter Lucia will premiere next door. Calico will open on 3 March 2004 (previews from 19 February) at the Duke of York's Theatre, where it’s booking up to 23 May.

Romola Garai (pictured) will star as Lucia, whose then-secret romance with Beckett reached its height in 1928. Garai is best known for her screen roles in Daniel Deronda, Nicholas Nickleby, I Capture the Castle and Attachments.

The cast also includes Imelda Staunton (Guys and Dolls, Life x 3, Habeas Corpus on stage, Bright Young Things, Blackball, Shakespeare in Love, Sense and Sensibility, Peter’s Friends on film) and Dermot Crowley (His Girl Friday, Scenes from the Big Picture, The Weir, The Memory of Water).

The premiere production is directed by Edward Hall, who’s been nominated for a Whatsonstage.com Best Director Award for his 2003 productions of Edmond starring Kenneth Branagh and Propeller’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Click here to vote!)

Considered highly unstable by her parents, Lucia received therapy from Carl Jung. She died, aged 75, in 1982, having spent the last two decades of her life in a nursing home. Calico refers to the material that was sometimes wound around the wrists of patients being taken away to asylums.

Author Michael Hastings is best known for his earlier play about another troubled literary relationship. Tom and Viv, which delved into the marriage of poet TS Eliot and his first wife, Vivien, who he had committed, was made into a film starring Willem Dafoe and Miranda Richardson in 1994.

Currently at the Duke of York’s, Stephen Poliakoff’s revival of his own 1996 thriller, Sweet Panic finishes at the end of its limited run on 7 February 2003. Jane Horrocks, John Gordon Sinclair and Whatsonstage.com Award winner Victoria Hamilton star in the piece about a child psychologist whose understanding of contemporary life is brought into question when she finds herself stalked by the mother of one of her young clients.

- by Terri Paddock