More than 40 years after he originated the role, Roy Dotrice (pictured) - who was awarded an OBE this week in the New Year’s Honours List (See News, 2 Jan 2008) - will revive his performance as 17th-century author and antiquarian John Aubrey in the one-man play Brief Lives. The production, which is once again directed by the play’s author Patrick Garland, opens on 7 February 2008 at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre ahead of a brief regional tour and planned West End transfer.

Adapted from the Memoirs, Miscellanies, Letters and Jottings of John Aubrey, Brief Lives paints a vivid portrait of London in the late 1600s, including anecdotes of Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Walter Raleigh and other personalities of the day.

The play premiered in 1967 at Hampstead Theatre. It subsequently had two Broadway engagements and transferred in 1968 to the West End’s Criterion Theatre where it played 400 performances before moving to the Mayfair Theatre. Those runs combined with extensive international touring earned Dotrice a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the greatest number of solo performances (1,782). Brief Lives was last seen in the West End in 1998, when the late Michael Williams starred.

Dotrice’s many other stage credits include A Life, Oliver!, Great Expectations, Hay Fever, The Homecoming, The Passion of Dracula, Henry IV, A Moon for the Misbegotten (for which he won a 2000 Tony Award for the Broadway production with Gabriel Byrne) and, most recently, The Best of Friends. His screen credits include Amadeus, The Cutting Edge, The Scarlet Letter and Mulan on film, and television’s The Caretaker, Life Begins, Doctors, Hart to Hart and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Following Colchester, Brief Lives visits Brighton, Lincoln and Richmond, where its tour schedule concludes on 29 March 2008. Dates and venue details for the West End run have not yet been announced. The production is designed by Simon Higlett, with lighting by Colin Wood, and is presented by Ian Fricker and Chris Moreno.

- by Terri Paddock