Stars in Their Eyes presenter turned Olivier Award-winning actor Matthew Kelly will return to the London stage this spring to star – alongside Geraldine James and Green Wing’s Karl Theobald - in a Fringe revival of Howard Barker’s 1983 play Victory: Choices in Reaction, which runs at north London’s Arcola Theatre from 3 March to 4 April 2009 (previews from 6 March).

Billed as a “dark and bloody” Restoration tale, Victory is set in 1660 when Britain’s brief experiment with republicanism ends and the monarchy is restored. Barker’s analysis of a failed regime interweaves the national political with the personal as it looks at the life-shattering effects of fundamental change.

Since his first play was produced on Radio Four in 1969, Howard Barker has been one of the country’s most prolific writers – often described as an “enfant terrible” of modern British theatre – whose credits include 13 Objects, Cheek, Crimes in Hot Countries, Fair Slaughter, Gertrude, A Hard Heart, Scenes from an Execution and That Good Between Us. His most recent play, The Dying of Today, premiered at the Arcola in October 2008.

Victory is directed by Amelia Nicholson, who said: “Howard Barker’s plays enable vivid imagination and moral speculation to flourish. His is a theatre that proposes nothing is impossible, presenting the human in all its complexity. I have long had a deep respect for Barker’s language which is beautiful in its muscularity; in Victory nothing is left to waste and the result is brutal, poetic and visceral.”

Since cementing a stage comeback playing gentle giant Lennie (pictured) in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which won him the 2004 Best Actor Olivier (See News, 23 Feb 2004), Matthew Kelly has appeared frequently on stage – though largely outside of London, in Plymouth, Birmingham, Liverpool and elsewhere – in plays including Endgame, Mirandolina and Twelfth Night. He last appeared on the London stage in 2007 in Forgotten Voices at Riverside Studios.

Geraldine James is a familiar face from her screen roles in Band of Gold, The Jewel in the Crown, State of Play, Kavanaugh QC and Little Britain. Her theatre credits include The Cherry Orchard, Lysistrata, The Merchant of Venice (with Dustin Hoffman), Hedda Gabler and Faith Healer.

Karl Theobald is best known as Dr Martin Dear from TV’s Green Wing. His other screen credits include The Virgin Queen and The Truth. He appeared in the West End in 2006 in Donkeys’ Years. The cast of Victory also includes Evie Dawnay, Leander Deeny, Tom Godwin, Chris Porter and Nicholas Rowe.

- by Terri Paddock