Helpless, the first stage play from British playwright Dusty Hughes in ten years, receives its world premiere at the Donmar Warehouse next month. The production, directed by Robin Lefevre and starring Art Malik and Ron Cook, who has just been nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award, opens on 8 March 2000, previews from 2 March, and continues until 8 April.

A social comedy set against the 1997 General Election, Helpless puts the liberal post-war generation under the microscope. Fast approaching fifty and unwilling to grow old gracefully, they are confronted by a new generation who look at them with amused and sometimes bitter scepticism.

Hughes, formerly a Time Out theatre critic, rose to prominence in the early 80s when he won the London Critics Circle award for Most Promising Playwright for Commitments at the Bush Theatre. His other plays include Bad Language (nominated for a Best Comedy Olivier in 1983), Heaven and Hell, Futurists, Jenkin's Ear, Metropolis and celebrated adaptations of Bulgakov's Moliere and Gorky's Philistines for the RSC. Hughes last play, 1990's Slip of the Tongue (which was produced by Chicago's acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre in 1992 and transferred to the West End), provided a hit for American film star John Malkovich, as a lascivious dissident in Eastern Europe.

Ron Cook has just been nominated for an Olivier for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the Donmar's production of Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock. His other recent credits include the Almeida's production of Vassa at the Albery. Malik is best known for his roles in TV series and films such as The Jewel in the Crown, A Passage to India, The Living Daylights and City of Joy. On stage, he recently starred in the West End production of Yasmina Reza's Art.

Cook and Malik are joined in the cast by Craig Kelly, Charlotte Cornwell, Julie Graham and Rachel Stirling. Director Lefevre's production of Three Days of Rain has just completed its second sell-out run at the Donmar. He currently has two productions - Peggy for You with Maureen Lipman and Krapp's Last Tape with John Hurt - in the West End.