In Argentine Manuel Puig’s play adapted from his own 1976 novel of the same name, two men forced to share a prison cell form an unlikely relationship. Valentin (Evans) is a young Marxist rebel punished for his ideals, Molina (Keen) a middle-aged man condemned for his sexuality. Molina reinvents stories of films he loves, including the one of the title, and the cynical Valentin listens. Valentin believes in the just cause which makes all suffering bearable. Molina believes in the magic of love which makes all else endurable. Each has always been alone, and always - especially now - in danger of betrayal.
Glen has appeared twice before at the Donmar: in Here and, most famously, The Blue Room, David Hare’s two-hander in which he co-starred with Nicole Kidman (subsequently transferred to Broadway). He was most recently seen on stage in Dominic Cooke’s Royal Shakespeare Company production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (which won two Oliviers, including Best Revival, this year) in Stratford and the West End. His many other stage credits include Hedda Gabler at the Almeida, A Streetcar Named Desire at the National, Martin Guerre at the Prince Edward, and Henry V at the RSC.
In a recent interview with What’s On Stage Magazine, Glen said of his role in Kiss of the Spider Woman: “My character Molina is a man who believes fundamentally that he’s a woman and he prefers to be perceived as such. That’s interesting territory to get into as an actor. The challenge really got my heart pumping. There’s a danger with the role that you could absolutely fall flat on your face.”
Will Keen’s theatre work includes The Changeling (Cheek by Jowl), Five Gold Rings (Almeida), The Rubenstein Kiss (Hampstead), The Coast of Utopia (National), Don Juan, Pericles and, most recently, Tom and Viv at the Almeida. Amongst his screen credits are: Elizabeth I, The Impressionists, Into the Void, Murphy’s Law, Monsignor Renard and Martin Chuzzlewit on TV; and Love and Other Disasters and Nine Lives of Thomas Katz on film.
Translated by Allan Baker, Kiss of the Spider Woman was first performed by Simon Callow (as Molina) and Mark Rylance at west London’s Bush Theatre in 1985. The subsequent film won its star William Hurt a Best Actor Oscar, while Kander and Ebb’s 1993 Broadway musical version, with a book by Terrence McNally, won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
The Donmar production is designed by Ben Stones with lighting by Hartley TA Kemp and sound by John Leonard. After its London dates, Kiss of the Spider Woman tours to Liverpool, Bristol and Salford, where it concludes on 16 June 2007. Currently at the Donmar, David Eldridge’s new version of Ibsen's 1896 play John Gabriel Borkman - which stars Ian McDiarmid and Penelope Wilton and is directed by artistic director Michael Grandage – finishes its run on 14 April 2007 (See News, 14 Jul 2006).
- by Terri Paddock