OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 14 February 2005, (previews 10 February), Ying Tong, a new play by Roy Smiles about late comedian Spike Milligan and his ‘Goons’ transfers to the West End’s New Ambassadors Theatre (See News, 17 Dec 2004). James Clyde (After Mrs Rochester) plays Milligan with Jeremy Child as BBC announcer Wallace Greenslade and, as his fellow Goons Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers, Christian Patterson and Peter Temple. Directed by Michael Kingsbury - who also directed Round the Horne...Revisited, a tribute to the 1960s radio serial, which continues to run at The Venue off Leicester Square – Ying Tong premiered at Leeds’ West Yorkshire Playhouse in October 2004. It’s currently booking at the New Ambassadors until 4 June 2005.
OPENING TUESDAY, 15 February 2005, (previews 4 February), the National Theatre revives August Strindberg’s 1901 play, A Dream Play, in a new version by Caryl Churchill directed by Katie Mitchell (See News, 9 Nov 2004). In the play, a girl from another world comes to find out why people complain so much. Katie Mitchell, directs a cast including Dominic Rowan, Justin Salinger and Angus Wright, all of whom appeared in Mitchell’s recent NT stagings of Iphigenia at Aulis and/or Three Sisters. The new production coincides with an exhibition of Strindberg’s paintings and photography at Tate Modern. A Dream Play runs in rep at the NT Cottesloe, where it’s booking up to 29 March 2005.
OPENING WEDNESDAY, 16 February 2005 (previews from 10 February), the Royal Shakespeare Company transfers Macbeth to the West End’s Albery Theatre. Greg Hicks plays the title role with Sian Thomas as Lady Macbeth, directed by RSC associate director Dominic Cooke. This is the fourth and final production in the clutch of “Tragedies” seen last year in Stratford-upon-Avon (and the third Macbeth in London already this year, after Out of Joint at Wilton’s Music Hall and the Almeida production led by Simon Russell Beale). The RSC’s 22-week residency at the Albery finishes with Vanessa Redgrave playing the title role in Euripides’ Hecuba, which will now skip Stratford and have a slightly extended London run from 26 March to 7 May 2005. Macbeth, meanwhile, finishes its limited season on 5 March.
ALSO ON WEDNESDAY (preview 15 February), West End musical actress Rebecca Thornhill stars in Playing Away, which continues at Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Theatre until 5 March. Chris Sykes’ new play, directed by Thierry Harcourt, revolves around a woman who leads a double life between London and Paris.
OPENING THURSDAY, 17 February 2005 (previews from 14 February), it’s the RSC again – this time with Pedro, The Great Pretender which joins two other plays from its Spanish Golden Age season, also seen last year in Stratford, at the West End’s Playhouse Theatre. Mike Alfreds directs Philip Osment’s new version of Cervantes’ comedy about a lovable trickster whose journey leads him to find his true vocation on the stage. It continues in rep – with The Dog in the Manger and House of Desires - until 12 March 2005.
- by Terri Paddock