The 2004 season officially kicks off with Galileo’s Daughter by Wertenbaker (Our Country’s Good), which opens on 19 July 2004 and continues to 14 August (previews from 30 June). In 1633, the visionary scientist Galileo is accused of heresy for arguing that the earth moves around the sun. In Florence, his illegitimate daughter Marie Celeste lives as a nun and, from her cloistered and poverty-stricken world, provides her father’s greatest source of strength and understanding.
Directed by Hall himself, the premiere production stars Julian Glover as Galileo, Rebecca Hall as Marie Celeste and Anna Carteret as the Abbess. It’s designed by Kevin Rigdon, with lighting by Peter Mumford. From 20 July to 14 August 2004, the Wertenbaker is joined in the repertory by the linked productions of Don Juan (previews from 6 July) and Man and Superman (previews from 9 July).
Simon Nye, best known for TV’s Men Behaving Badly, based his version of Don Juan on Moliere’s 1665 comedy about the legendary lover who just can’t help himself who, having seduced the virtuous Elvira and killed her noble father, now has the lady’s vengeful family onto him. The cast includes Will Keen as Don Juan and Rebecca Hall as Elvira. The production is directed by Thea Sharrock and designed by Rigdon with lighting by Mumford.
Shaw’s Man and Superman turns the Don Juan myth on its head with comic effect. Wealthy and handsome John Tanner is irresistible to women, in particular his young ward, heiress Ann Whitefield, who’s intent on marrying him. A car chase, bandits and the rarely performed dream sequence “Don Juan in Hell” ensue. The cast for Man and Superman, directed by Hall, includes Will Keen as John, Rebecca Hall as Ann, Julia Glover as Mr Malone and Anna Carteret as Mrs Whitefield.
The 2004 repertory season concludes with classic comedy Blithe Spirit, which was Coward’s own favourite and the longest running comedy in British theatre for three decades. It features another Elvira, the ghost of Charles Condomine’s first wife whom he, his second wife and medium Madam Arcati unwittingly conjure up during a séance. Directed by Thea Sharrock, it runs from 24 August to 4 September (previews from 18 August). Casting has not yet been announced.
Hall’s first season at Bath last summer was critically acclaimed with his production of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal subsequently transferring to the West End’s Duchess Theatre, where it was nominated for two of this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards. The founding director of both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the modern National Theatre, Hall celebrated 50 years as a professional director last year. In 1999, he was presented with an Olivier for Lifetime Achievement and as knighted in 1977 for services to theatre.
- by Terri Paddock