At the National Theatre, three-time Olivier Award winner Clare Higgins (pictured), currently delivering a comic turn as Lady Britomart Undershaft in Major Barbara, will stay on at the NT Olivier for some tragedy. She’s due to play Jocasta opposite Ralph Fiennes in Jonathan Kent’s production of Euripides’ Oedipus (See News, 2 Oct 2007).

Fiennes just opened in the West End last night in Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage (See Today’s 1st Night Photos), which runs until 14 June 2008 at the Gielgud. Oedipus then joins the NT Olivier in October ahead of an international tour (exact dates still tbc).

In 2004, Higgins tackled Hecuba – which won her one of her three Oliviers to date – for Kent at the Donmar Warehouse, where she also starred in Phaedra two years ago. Her non-Greek stage credits include Vincent in Brixton (at the National, ahead of Broadway and the West End) Sweet Bird of Youth, Death of a Salesman and The Night of the Iguana,


In other play casting updates:

  • Sheridan Smith, an Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Award nominee this year for Little Shop of Horrors, will turn from musicals back to plays to star in Tinderbox, a dystopian revenge comedy by first-time playwright Lucy Kirkwood, which runs from 28 April to 24 May 2008 (previews from 23 April) at the Bush Theatre, directed by artistic director Josie Rourke (See News, 5 Feb 2008). Smith is best known to TV fans for the likes of Two Pints of Lager (and a Packet of Crisps), The Royle Family and Gavin and Stacy. At the Bush, Bryan Dick plays a rogue Scottish artist who finds sanctuary in a Bradford butcher’s shop in a cast that also features Jamie Foreman, Sartaj Garewal and Nigel Betts.

  • At the Young Vic, full casting has been announced for the Jane Horrocks-led revival of Brecht’s 1949 classic The Good Soul of Szechuan, in a new version by David Harrower directed by Richard Jones (See News, 27 Dec 2007). Horrocks, who plays the good-hearted prostitute Shen Te, who is bet on by the gods, will be joined by: Steven Beard, Linda Dobell, Gareth Farr, John Marquez, Sam O’Mahony-Adams, David Osmond, Susan Porrett, Sophie Russell, Liza Sadovy and Tom Silburn. The production runs in the Young Vic’s main house from 14 May to 21 June 2008 (previews from 7 May).

  • In the West End, Rafe Spall (John Gabriel Borkman, TV’s He Kills Coppers) and Saskia Reeves (Complicite’s A Disappearing Number) will star in the upcoming revival of South African playwright Athol Fugard’s Hello and Goodbye, which runs from 24 April to 17 May 2008 (previews from 22 April) at Trafalgar Studios 2 (See News, 5 Dec 2007). The 1965 autobiographical piece captures the explosive conflict that emerges when family ties are fully exposed. Paul Robinson directs.

  • Finally, Jo Stone-Fewings, most recently seen as Sparkish in The Country Wife at the Haymarket, takes over from Simon Day in the lead role of Richard Hannay in Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Award-winning comedy The 39 Steps at the Criterion Theatre from 28 April 2008. The four-strong cast – the other current cast members are Josefina Gabrielle, Martyn Ellis and Simon Gregor - plays “139 roles” between them in Maria Aitken’s production of Patrick Barlow’s adaptation of John Buchan’s whodunit, best known from Hitchcock’s 1935 film.

    - by Terri Paddock