Mamma Mia! writer Catherine Johnson (pictured) is premiering her new play at the recently relaunced Bristol Old Vic next month, her fifth production for the venue. Suspension,  set against the backdrop of Bristol's famous bridge, runs in the Old Vic Studio from 3 to 28 March 2009 (previews from 27 February).

Johnson, who lives in Bristol, has enjoyed international success since penning ABBA musical Mamma Mia!, which premiered in 1999. She also wrote the screenplay for last year's film adaptation, which  recently surpassed Titanic to become the highest-grossing film in British cinema history. Her other stage credits include Boys Mean Business, Dead Sheep and Little Baby Nothing for the Bush, and Rag Doll, Too Much Too Young, Where’s Willy?  and Renegades, all for the Bristol Old Vic.

Suspension is a comedy which centres around two fathers who stage a traffic-stopping demonstration of love, exploring themes of parenting, relationships and the “thrills of mountaineering in a morning suit”.

The cast features Louise Plowright (original cast of Mamma Mia!), April Pearson (Skins), Stuart McLoughlin (Coram Boy, Brief Encounter) and Rosalind March ( Calendar Girls). It's directed by Heather Williams and designed by Tim Goodchild.

The Bristol Old Vic has only recently reopened after a much-publicised funding crisis and subsequent refurbishment (See News, 4 Jun 2007). The venue's new executive chairman, Dick Penny, commissioned Suspension to launch the Old Vic's new writing programme, Script in Hand, aimed at developing new writing talent.

- by Theo Bosanquet


For more on the recent problems facing the Bristol Old Vic and other regional theatres, click here to read our interview with Olivia Turnbull, author of Bringing Down the House: The Crisis in Britain's Regional Theatres.