Janie Dee, Neal Pearson and Susannah Harker star in Peter Hall’s new production of Harold Pinter’s 1971 three-hander Old Times, just opened on tour ahead of a West End transfer, while post-West End, Shane Richie (pictured) steps into Christian Slater’s shoes as Randle P McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.


In Old Times, Kate and her husband Deeley are visited in their converted farmhouse home by Kate’s old college roommate Anna, sparking off a war in which memories – and different versions of the past – are the weapons. Hall directed the world premiere of Pinter’s darkly erotic drama, which was nominated for a Tony when it transferred to Broadway.

Two-time Olivier Award winner Janie Dee starred in Hall’s revival of another Pinter three-hander, Betrayal, which transferred to the West End in 2003 following a regional tour and initial run at the Theatre Royal Bath, where Hall has just announced his fifth summer repertory season (See News, 12 Mar 2006). Well known for his TV acting roles, Pearson’s recent stage credits include Cloaca, Closer and Taking Sides, while he was also a judge on TV’s The Play’s the Thing. Harker has most recently been seen on stage in On the Shore of the Wide World and Three Sisters; her TV credits include House of Cards and Pride and Prejudice.

Currently at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Old Times continues to Oxford, Cambridge, Richmond, Windsor, Bath and Malvern, where its tour concludes on 27 April 2007. No venue or dates have yet been confirmed for its West End transfer.


Hollywood’s Christian Slater made his West End debut, and won the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Actor, for Terry Johnson and Tamara Harvey’s 2004 revival of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which now hits the road with British stage and screen actor Shane Richie, best known to TV fans from EastEnders. The production, also Best Play Revival in the Whatsonstage.com Awards following its first West End season, opens on 4 April 2007 at the Theatre Royal Plymouth and then visits Wimbledon, Southampton, Bradford, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Manchester and Southend, where the scheduled concludes on 9 June.

In Dale Wasserman’s play - based on the 1962 novel by Ken Kesey, which was subsequently made into a film starring Jack Nicholson – hard-living bad boy RP McMurphy opts for a stint in a mental institution rather than jail, but he didn’t reckon on the domineering terror of Nurse Ratched.


In other touring news, Pete and Dud - Come Again - Chris Bartlett and Nick Awde’s comedy about Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, which had a three-month run at The Venue in Leicester Square following its premiere at the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe - re-opens on 12 April 2007 a Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre before continuing, until 7 July, to Southend, Poole, Eastbourne, Portsmouth, Huddersfield, Loughborough, London (Arts Depot), Buxton, Ipswich, Oxford, Sheffield, Chelmsford, Winchester, Newport, Brecon, Coventry, Worth, Malvern and Truro. Gareth Tunley and Simon Lowe play the eponymous Pete and Dud, directed by Owen Lewis.

Meanwhile, the Oldham Coliseum’s revival of Terry Johnson’s award-winning 1994 comedy about a society celebrating dead comedians, Dead Funny, opens at Billingham’s Forum Theatre on 19 March 2007 before moving on to Cymru, Eastbourne, Wycombe, Guildford, Sheffield, Southend, Jersey, Birmingham and Dunstable where it concludes on 23 June 2007. Nikolai Foster directs a cast of familiar TV faces, including Steven Pinder (Brookside), Samantha Giles (Emmerdale) and Ben Hull (Hollyoaks).

And finally, Blonde Bombshells of 1943 - Alan Plater’s comedy about an all-girl swing band, which was seen last summer at Hampstead Theatre - has extended its current touring schedule, opened in January at Oxford Playhouse, throughout the summer. The new leg of the tour commences on 21 May 2007 at the Theatre Royal Windsor and continues to York, Malvern, Brighton, Stoke, Southend, Canterbury, Richmond, Bromley, Cambridge and Glasgow, where it finishes on 25 August. Based on Plater’s 2002 Bafta-winning TV drama The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (in which Judi Dench starred), and first seen on stage at Leeds’ West Yorkshire Playhouse two years ago, (See News, 9 Feb 2004), the piece features music by Fats Waller, the Andrews Sisters, Glenn Miller, George Formby and others from the 1940s. Mark Babych directs.

- by Terri Paddock