British actress Natasha Richardson - daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and sister of Joely Richardson - will return to the London stage for the first time in more than a decade to star in Trevor Nunn's production of Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea, in a new version by Pam Gems. The production, which will open the newly refurbished Almeida and inaugurate the reign of artistic director Michael Attenborough, runs from 15 May to 28 June 2003, following previews from 8 May (See News, 9 Dec 2002).

Ibsen's 1888 drama centres on Ellida, trapped in a stifling marriage to a widower and haunted by a love from her past to the point of obsession. In an environment of strict moral rules, she has to decide which future to embrace. Nunn's mounting has been on the cards for more than two years and was originally expected to be mounted at the National with Nicole Kidman. It will now mark his first theatre production after he leaves the NT this April.

In New York, Richardson created the role of Sally Bowles (pictured in costume) in Sam Mendes' production of Cabaret, a performance for which she won numerous awards including the Tony Award for Best Actress. She's also appeared on Broadway in Closer and Anna Christie, which transferred from the UK. Her other London stage credits include High Society, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet and The Seagull, for which she won the Critics Circle Award for Most Promising Newcomer. Amongst Richardson's screen credits are The Handmaid's Tale, The Comfort of Strangers, Zelda, Widow's Peak, The Parent Trap, Chelsea Walls, Wakin' Up in Reno and, soon to be released, Maid in Manhattan with Ralph Fiennes and Jennifer Lopez.

The Lady from the Sea is something of a family legacy for Richardson. Her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, played the part of the tragic Ellida some 25 years ago in a renowned production at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London.

The Almeida production will be designed by Rob Howell, with music by Shaun Davey, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by John Leonard. Further casting has not yet been announced.

- by Terri Paddock