Completing the cast of Anthony Page’s production of Edward Albee’s The Lady From Dubuque, along with the previously announced Maggie Smith and Catherine McCormack (See News, 24 Nov 2006), are: Chris Larkin (His Dark Materials at the National), and Americans Robert Stella, Peter Francis James, Vivienne Benesch, Jennifer Regan and Glenn Fleshler, who make their UK stage debuts in the production.
Albee’s rarely seen 1980 play receives its British premiere at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket on 20 March 2007 (previews from 3 March) for a strictly limited three-month season to 9 June 2007. In the play, a party at which three couples have been playing 20 Questions ends when Jo (McCormack), the hostess who is dying of cancer, can no longer bear her pain. Afterwards, a mysterious woman, the “lady from Dubuque” (Smith), who may be the mother of the hostess, arrives and raises more difficult questions.
At the Young Vic, generations, the latest play by Debbie Tucker Green (trade, stoning mary, born bad), opens in the new Maria Studio on 27 February 2007 (previews from 22 February), for a run to 10 March (See News, 5 Jul 2006). To the accompaniment of a gospel choir, the play explodes the secrets of a South African family. Sacha Wares directs the short piece, clocking in at just 30 minutes, with two performances nightly.
The cast includes Britons Davinia Anderson, Claire Prempeh and Heshima Thompson, as well as leading South African actors Sello Maake Ka-Ncube (Who Killed Mr Drum? at Riverside Studios, Othello for the RSC and The Lion King in the West End), Nornhle Nkonyeni (who recently won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Naledi Theatre Awards and appears in Catch a Fire on film), and Louis Mahoney (who appeared at the Young Vic in the 1971 production of Conspirator in Cato Street and has also starred in Romeo and Juliet for the RSC and Desire at the Almeida).
generations is designed by Miriam Buether, with lighting by Paule Constable, and sound by Paul Arditti. The show has music by opera singer Pauline Malefane, who leads the choir.
Meanwhile, at the Almeida, actor-turned-director Kathy Burke directs Moira Buffini’s new free adaptation of Nikolai Erdman’s Soviet Union-banned classic The Suicide - renamed Dying for It, which runs from 15 March to 28 April 2007 (previews from 8 March, See News, 3 Nov 2006).
The play centres on Semyon, who is unemployed, living in a hallway and watching his wife slave away all day. When his last hope to earn a crust and gain some self-respect disappears, he decides to take his life. As word gets out, he’s inundated with visitors wanting him to die on their behalf. On the appointed night, they throw a party.
Tom Brook (who won last year’s TMA Best Supporting Actor award for The Long and the Short and the Tall at Sheffield) stars as Semyon, alongside Liz White as his wife, Masha; Susan Brown, as Serafima; Charlie Condou as Viktor; Michelle Dockery as Kleopatra; Barnaby Kay as Alexander; Tony Rohr (The Field at the Tricycle) as Father Yelpidy; Paul Rider as Yegor; Sophie Stanton as Margarita; and Ronan Vibert as Aristarch.
Dying for It is designed are by Lez Brotherston, with lighting by Paul Keogan, music by Stephen Warbeck and sound by John Leonard.
Also at the Almeida, artistic director Michael Attenborough directs the European premiere of the late African-American playwright Theodore Ward’s Big White Fog, running from 17 May to 30 June 2007 (previews from 11 May). The production marks the first time that Ward’s play will be produced outside the US. It features Jenny Jules (Fabulation) and Danny Sapani (Out of Joint’s The Overwhelming, Macbeth as well as and Lenora Crichlow, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Susan Salmon.
Set in Chicago between 1922 and 1933, it follows the journey of members of the Mason family and the pursuit of their own ideological beliefs, as they steer a course through post- World War II racism and the Great Depression. Supported by wife Ella, Vic’s loyalty is to Marcus Garvey’s separatist Back to Africa campaign, while his brother-in-law Dan is committed to the American Dream, believing that the black community can prosper and succeed within the system.
Big White Fog is designed by Jonathan Fensom, with lighting by Tim Mitchell and sound by John Leonard.
- by Caroline Ansdell