Actor-turned-director Samuel West (pictured) will return to the stage for the first time since his shock, pre-Christmas announcement that he would step down as artistic director of Sheffield Theatres (See News, 21 Dec 2006). He’ll star – along with Dervla Kirwan and Toby Stephens – in the Donmar Warehouse’s summer revival of Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, running from 5 June to 21 July 2007 (previews from 31 May).

Famously played backwards in time, Betrayal traces a seven-year affair - between art gallery owner Emma (Kirwan) and literary agent Jerry (Stephens), the best friend of her publisher husband Robert (West) - from its poignant end to its first illicit kiss.

The drama was last seen in the West End in a 2003 production directed by Peter Hall, who also helmed the 1978 premiere at the National, where Penelope Wilton, Michael Gambon and Daniel Massey starred. The Donmar revival of Betrayal will be directed by Roger Michell, who directed Pinter’s Old Times at the same address three years ago, and designed by William Dudley.

The son of actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales, Samuel West’s many acting credits include: on film, Van Helsing, Cambridge Spies, Iris, Howard's End, Notting Hill, Complicity, Carrington and Persuasion; and on stage, A Life in the Theatre, Arcadia, Hidden Laughter, The Sea, Mr Cinders, The Importance of Being Earnest, Henry IV and Richard II. For his last London stage appearance, the title role in Steven Pimlott’s 2001 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet, West won both the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Shakespearean Performance and the Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Actor.

Although he has always continued to act, since Hamlet, West has more often concentrated his stage efforts on directing since his directorial debut with The Lady’s Not for Burning at Chichester in 2002. In June 2005, he took over the running of Sheffield from Michael Grandage and has programmed acclaimed productions including the first major revival of Howard Brenton’s controversial The Romans in Britain, the world premiere of Tanika Gupta’s Gladiator Games and the regional premiere of Caryl Churchill’s A Number, in which he starred with his father. Two hits from West’s current Sheffield season have secured London berths – Jamie Lloyd’s production of Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker is currently at the Tricycle and Lindsay Posner’s revival of Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof opens at the West End’s Savoy Theatre in May (See News, 23 Mar 2007).

Irish actress Dervla Kirwan is best known for her television roles in the likes of Ballykissangel, True Dare Kiss, 55 Degrees North, Casanova and Hearts and Bones. Her recent stage credits have included Exiles and Aristocrats at the National, Dangerous Corner and in the West End, and Les Liaions Dangereuses, directed by West at Bristol Old Vic in 2003.

Like West, Toby Stephens, the son of actors Maggie Smith and the late Robert Stephens, has also taken the title role in Hamlet for the RSC, which marked his last London stage appearance when Michael Boyd’s production transferred to the Albery (now the Noel Coward) in November 2004. Stephens’ other stage credits include Coriolanus for the RSC, Brittanicus and Phedre for the Almeida, and A Streetcar Named Desire, Japes and The Royal Family in the West End. His many screen credits include Die Another Day, Onegin, The Great Gatsby, Cambridge Spies (in which he appeared with West) and the BBC’s recent adaptation of Jane Eyre.

In other casting news, Matthew Macfadyen – best known for TV’s Spooks and playing Mr Darcy to Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennett in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice - will return to the stage to star in the American Bruce Norris’ satirical comedy The Pain and the Itch, running at the Royal Court from 21 June to 21 July 2007 (previews from 14 June). Macfadyen plays a liberal stay-at-home father whose Thanksgiving dinner party is badly upset.

Macfadyen was last on stage playing Prince Hal opposite Michael Gambon’s Falstaff in the National’s 2005 productions of Henry IV Parts One and Two. His other theatre credits include Battle Royal, School for Scandal, Much Ado About Nothing and The Duchess of Malfi. The UK premiere of The Pain and the Itch is directed by Dominic Cooke in his first production since taking over as artistic director of the Royal Court earlier this year (See News, 6 Feb 2007).

** DON’T MISS our Outing to THE PAIN & THE ITCH on 26 June 2007 - including our EXCLUSIVE post-show Q&A with Dominic Cooke & the cast - all for just £25!! - click here for more details! **

And finally (See News, 10 Jan 2007), the Tricycle Theatre has announced the cast for Called to Account, its latest tribunal play which puts the prime minister on trial (full title Called to Account – The Indictment of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair for the Crime of Aggression against Iraq – A Hearing), running from 23 April to 19 May 2007 (previews from 19 April). The cast, including several tribunal regulars, are: David Beames, Jeremy Clyde, Ken Drury, Diane Fletcher, Terrance Hardiman, William Hoyland, Charlotte Lucas, Morven Macbeth, David Michaels, Roland Oliver, Raad Raw, Shane Rimmer, Thomas Wheatley and James Woolley.

For Called to Account, the reports of the participating barristers, Philippe Sands QC for the prosecution and Julian Knowles for the defence, will once again be edited by journalist Richard Norton-Taylor and directed by artistic director Nicolas Kent, who have collaborated on many of the Tricycle’s previous verbatim dramas.

- by Terri Paddock