As previously reported (See News, 18 Dec 2002), Adrian Lester takes the title role, with Penny Downie creating the chorus, in Hytner's own production of Henry V, which has never previously been staged at the National. A charismatic leader in the flush of youth commits his troops to war. The risks are huge; the cause debatable; and bloodshed certain.
Lester and Downie will now be joined in the cast by Ian Hogg (whose recent stage credits include Julius Caesar for the RSC), William Gaunt (Humble Boy, Albert Speer, The Cherry Orchard for the NT) and Peter Blythe (Mrs Warren's Profession, The Royal Family) as well as Jude Akuwudike, Robert Blythe, Tony Devlin, Felicite Du Jeu, Jamie Harding, Robert Horwell, Adam Levy, Tom McKay, Marian McLoughlin, Iain Mitchell, Cecilia Noble, Nick Sampson, Faz Singhateh, Rohan Siva, Mark Springer, Russell Tovey, Tim Treloar, David Weston and Rupert Wickham.
The production is designed by Tim Hatley, with lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Simon Webb and lighting by Paul Groothuis. Henry V opens on 13 May 2003 (previews 6 May).
Joining the Shakespeare drama in repertory from 5 June (previews 29 May) will be the stage premiere of His Girl Friday, the 1940 film classic directed by Howard Hawks which was based on Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's original stage play The Front Page and has been newly adapted by Six Degrees of Separation author John Guare.
In addition to the previously announced leads of Alex Jennings and Zoe Wanamaker, who play editor Walter Burns and Burns' star reporter and love interest Hildy Johnson, the cast will include Margaret Tyzack (currently appearing opposite Alan Davies in the West End production of Auntie and Me), Sam Beazley, Paul Birchard, Dermot Crowley, Tony Haygarth, David Ross, Chris Ryan and Kerry Shale.
During the first six months of Hytner's reign - and perhaps longer depending on how the experiment goes - two-thirds of the seats in the NT Olivier (the largest of the South Bank complex's three auditoria) have been reduced to just £10 with the other third priced at £25. Following His Girl Friday, the £10 Olivier season will continue in July 2003 with Edward Hall's revival of David Mamet's Edmond, starring Kenneth Branagh in the title role.
- by Terri Paddock