Alan Howard will join Anna Friel when she makes her West End debut next month in the Almeida’s production of Frank Wedekind’s Lulu. The play will be the company’s first in its new performance space – a disused coach depot at King’s Cross – where it will reside while its home venue in Islington, north London, is refurbished. Lulu opens on 8 March 2001 (previews from 1 March) and continues until 12 May.

Lulu, based on Wedekind's two Lulu Plays in a new version by Nicholas Wright, traces the decline and fall of a young woman possessed of a fatal combination of overpowering sexuality and innocence. As she passes through Berlin and Parisian high society to the back-streets of Jack the Ripper’s London, she roundly destroys and is ultimately destroyed by her lovers.

Friel, who stars in the title role, famously made her stage debut in 1999 on Broadway, playing Alice in Patrick Marber's Closer, for which she won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress. Her television work includes Brookside, GBH, The Tribe and Our Mutual Friend, while on film she has featured in Mad Cows, Rogue Trader, Landgirls, A Midsummer Night's Dream and the forthcoming Everlasting Piece, Me Without You and War Bride.

Howard, who plays Schoning, is a stage veteran whose work includes The Play About the Baby (Almeida); The Heiress, Flight and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (National); Coriolanus, Richard II and Good (RSC); and King Lear and Waiting for Godot (for Peter Hall at the Old Vic). His film and television work includes The Secret Rapture and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and, most recently, David Copperfield.

Friel and Howard are joined in the cast by Samia Akudo, James Faulkner, Tom Georgeson, James Hillier, Leon Lissek, Anna Maguire, Oliver Milburn, Sid Mitchell, Francesca Murray-Fuentes, Marella Oppenheim, Jason Pitt, Imogen Slaughter, Johanna ter Steege, Peter Sullivan, Roger Swaine and Andrew Ufondu.

Lulu is directed by the Almeida’s joint artistic director, Jonathan Kent, and designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Jonathan Dove and sound by John A Leonard.

- by Terri Paddock