While performing at the Finborough in the evenings, for the past few weeks, Britton has also been in rehearsals during the day for his next play, the premiere at the National Theatre of Tony Harrison’s Fram, in which he plays another real-life figure, Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen (See News, 16 Jan 2008). Fram joins the NT Olivier rep on 17 April 2008 (previews from 10 April).
Set in 1953, Plague Over England centres on Gielgud when, at the height of his fame as an actor, he was arrested in a Chelsea public lavatory. He pleaded guilty the following morning to the charge of persistently importuning men for immoral purposes. Poised to appear in the West End in a play he was directing and recently knighted, his conviction caused a national sensation – breaking the great taboo of public discussion of homosexuality. Tamara Harvey directs.