Two popular off-West End productions have added final extra performances to their seasons. At Theatre Royal Stratford East, acclaimed new ska musical The Big Life has extended through this week to Saturday 12 March 2005, ahead of a planned West End transfer this spring (See The Goss, 21 Feb 2005). At north London’s Hampstead Theatre, Primo, Antony Sher’s one-man show about Primo Levi, has added two extra shows on Monday 14 March 2005 before finishing its sold out run on 19 March.

The Big Life, which transports Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost to 1950s London, was first seen for a month-long run last spring (See News, 8 Apr 2004). It returned for a limited run from 4 February 2005 (See News, 25 Nov 2004).

On the Windrush over from the Caribbean to England, a pact is made by a group of men not to get involved with women for three years whilst they ‘institute a regime of work and betterment’. Each man’s resolve is tested as one by one they fall prey to Cupid’s arrow. With 1950s period-style music, The Big Life charts the story of the Caribbean immigrants in their quest for a better life in Britain and their struggle to find work, homes and acceptance in their adopted country.

Members of the original cast reprise their roles, including: Jason Pennycooke, Claudia Cadette, Chris Tummings, Geoff Aymer, Marcus Powell, Victor Romero Evans, Yaa, Amanda Horlock and Neil Reidman. The Big Life is directed by actor Clint Dyer, who made his theatrical directorial debut with the show, and designed by Jenny Tiramani, with lighting by Gerry Jenkinson.

Primo received its world premiere on 30 September (previews from 24 September) at the NT Cottesloe, where it continued in repertory until 1 December 2004, before reopening on 23 February at Hampstead where all performances sold out within days of going on sale.

Sher (pictured) – who starred in his playwriting debut, I.D., at the Almeida in 2003 - adapted the new piece about the late Auschwitz survivor and author from Levi’s own memoir, If This Is a Man. Primo is directed by actor-director Richard Wilson and designed by Hildegard Bechtler, with lighting by Paul Pyant.

- by Terri Paddock