As previously tipped (See The Goss, 5 Feb 2008), 21-year-old Polly Stenham’s multi award-winning debut play That Face will transfer to the West End this spring. It will open on 8 May 2008 (previews from 1 May) for a ten-week season at the Duke of York’s Theatre, where Lindsay Duncan and Matt Smith will reprise their roles as a drug-addled mother and her son, along with other original cast members Julian Wadham and Catherine Steadman.

In the portrayal of an affluent family in freefall – billed as a “comic exploration of children who become parents to their parents” – the drugged and boozed-up Martha (Duncan) is fixated on her teenage son and oblivious to the boarding school terror tactics exerted by her teenage daughter.

That Face has won Stenham Most Promising Playwright trophies at this year’s Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards. It also won the TMA Award and was nominated for a Whatsonstage.com Award for Best New Play. In this year’s Laurence Olivier Awards, the cast has been nominated for “Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre”, for the play’s run last April/May at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. Stenham is now working on a screen adaptation of the play, with a substantial grant from the UK Film Council.

Duncan returned to the London stage after a six-year absence to headline That Face’s 2007 premiere. Duncan won Best Actress Oliviers for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s original production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and for her last stage role, the 2001 West End revival of Private Lives, which also scooped her accolades at the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle awards, and for its Broadway transfer, the Tony Awards. Her previous Royal Court credits include Mouth to Mouth, Ashes to Ashes and Top Girls.

Matt Smith was nominated for the Evening Standard Most Promising Newcomer award for That Face and has since starred in the West End alongside Christian Slater in Swimming with Sharks. Julian Wadham is currently appearing, with Simon Russell Beale and Zoe Wanamaker, as Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing at the National.

That Face is directed by Jeremy Herrin and designed by Mike Britton. It’s presented in the West End by Sonia Friedman Productions, Tulchin/Bartner and Jamie Hendry. As a joint pricing initiative with the Royal Court, 100 best seats will be available for every performance at £25.

Currently at the Duke of York’s, the Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Award-nominated South African version of The Magic Flute (Impempe Yomlingo), transferred from the Young Vic, is due to finish its eight-week West End season on 19 April (See News, 19 Dec 2007).

- by Terri Paddock