The play, which is one of a number being staged this year to mark Rattigan’s centenary, is based on the true story of Alma Rattenbury (Anne-Marie Duff) who was put on public trial in 1935 with her 18-year-old lover for violently killing her husband.
Condemned by the public, more for her seduction of a younger man than for any involvement she may have had in her husband’s death, the play examines the role of passion, guilt and loyalty in a study of 1930s English sensibilities.
Cusack, who will play jury forewoman Edith Davenport, returns to the Old Vic following Dancing at Lughnasa in 2009. Her other recent theatre credits include The Painter at the Arcola, the Tricycle’s Women, Power And Politics season and Andersen’s English at Hampstead Theatre.
Cause Celebre is directed by Thea Sharrock, who last year helmed the critically acclaimed revival of Rattigan's second play After the Dance at the NT Lyttelton. The full cast also features Freddie Fox (A Flea in Her Ear, Old Vic), Patrick Godfrey (The Crucible, Open Air), Jenny Galloway (After the Dance) and Nicholas Jones (Inherit the Wind, Old Vic), along with Lucy Black, Timothy Carlton, Simon Chandler, Richard Clifford, Oliver Coopersmith, Rory Fleck-Byrne, Tommy McDonnell, Lucy Robinson, Tristan Shepherd, Richard Teverson, Sarah Waddell, Michael Webber and Tristram Wymark.
In other play casting news out of town, Imogen Stubbs and Gavin and Stacey star Joanna Page star in a new revival of Noel Coward’s popular comedy Private Lives, which runs from 28 February to 9 April 2011 (previews from 23 February) at the Manchester Royal Exchange.
Elyot and Amanda are divorced. Honeymooning with their new spouses, Sybil and Victor, at the same hotel they encounter each other one evening. Rekindling their passion, they decide to run away to Paris. But can Elyot and Amanda really be together?
Imogen Stubbs, who plays Amanda, was recently seen on stage in Shared Experience’s The Glass Menagerie (Salisbury Playhouse) and in the Hampstead Theatre’s revival of Michael Frayn's Alphabetical Order. Joanna Page is best known for playing Stacey in popular BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey; her stage credits include Fat Pig at Trafalgar Studios.
And back in the West End at the Criterion Theatre, the Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Award-winning comedy The 39 Steps welcomes a new cast this week. In Patrick Barlow’s stage adaptation of John Buchan’s whodunit, memorably filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935, four actors play “150 roles” to tell the tale of London bachelor Richard Hannay fleeing to Scotland and breaking a spy ring to prove his innocence after a woman is found murdered in his home.
In the new cast, Rufus Wright is Hannay with Laura Rogers as Annabel Schmidt / Pamela / Margaret with Dermot Canavan and Sean Kearns as the clowns who divide the other roles between them. Maria Aitken directs. The play, which started life at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (in June 2005) and had its London premiere at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn before opening in the West End on 20 September 2006 (previews from 14 September), is currently booking through to 22 October 2011.