Award-winning actress Francisca Annis next month returns to the London stage after a six-year absence. She will appear in Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts, in a new version by Richard Harris directed by Robin Phillips, which opens at the Comedy Theatre on 2 April 2001 (following previews from 28 March).

Set in Norway, the drama takes place in Mrs Alving’s country house, where she is preparing for the opening of an orphanage, a memorial to her late husband. Mrs Alving’s son Oswald, an artist, returns home for the celebrations. A story of love, betrayal and hypocrisy gradually unfolds as ghosts from the past come back to haunt the family.

Annis, who plays Mrs Alving, was last seen in London in 1995 playing opposite her now-partner Ralph Fiennes in Hamlet at the Hackney Empire. The production subsequently transferred to Broadway. She is also well known for her television appearances in Wives and Daughters and Reckless, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA for three years running.

For Ghosts, Annis is joined in the cast by Martin Hutson (as Oswald), Anthony Andrews (Pastor Manders), Robin Soans (Jakob Engstrand) and Sarah Tansey (Regina Engstrand).

Hutson has recently been seen on stage in Another Country (Arts Theatre) and Michael Grandage’s As You Like It (Sheffield Crucible/Lyric Hammersmith). Andrews’ many film and television roles include Love in a Cold Climate, David Copperfield, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Under the Volcano, Brideshead Revisited and Lost in Siberia.

Adapter Richard Harris has had several West End successes including Stepping Out and Outside Edge. His television includes Outside Edge, The Darling Buds of May and A Touch of Frost. Robin Phillips has just directed the acclaimed production of Long Day’s Journey into Night, starring Jessica Lange and Charles Dance, at the Lyric. Ghosts is designed by Paul Farnsworth, with lighting by John B Read and sound by Whizz. It is produced by Bill Kenwright.

- by Terri Paddock