Two of the stars of the BBC’s recent acclaimed adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House will be reunited on stage at Soho Theatre next month, again playing lovers, in Laura Wade’s new play Other Hands, which runs from 17 February to 11 March 2006 (previews from 15 February). Anna Maxwell Martin and Richard Harrington, who starred as Esther and Woodcourt in the recently aired television drama, will feature in Wade’s drama, commissioned as part of Soho Writers’ Attachment Programme.

On stage, Maxwell Martin’s credits include His Dark Materials (for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award), Honour, Three Sisters and The Coast of Utopia at the National Theatre, and Dumb Show at the Royal Court. Harrington’s stage credits include Arts and Guff at Soho and Gas Station Angel at the Royal Court.

Wade had two plays running simultaneously last year, with Colder Than Here at Soho (which transferred to the off-Broadway Lucille Lortel Theater in autumn 2005) and Breathing Corpses at the Royal Court (See News, 14 Jan 2005).

Other Hands explores the fragility of human relationships in a world dependent on technology. When a machine stops working, there is always someone to mend it, but the play’s characters find there is no quick fix when their own bodies and emotions break down. Steve, a computer engineer, and Hayley, a hard-hitting management consultant, are ignoring the crisis in their partnership. As they drift away from each other and towards new options, they find themselves linked by a mysterious paralysis resembling repetitive strain injury.

The play is directed by Bijan Sheibani, who was resident director at the National Theatre Studio and English Touring Theatre in 2004/5. He won the James Menzies-Kitchin Young Directors’ Award in 2003 for his productions of Party Time and One for the Road at Battersea Arts Centre. Sheibani was last at Soho in 2004 when he directed Flush by David Zipper.

- by Caroline Ansdell