The season kicks off in the main house, from 25 June to 1 August 2009 (press performance on 13 July), with a double bill of two one-act plays: Terence Rattigan’s The Browning Version and Anton Chekhov’s Swan Song (1889), both directed by Peter Hall.
In Rattigan’s 1948 play, famously filmed in 1951 with Michael Redgrave, it’s classics master Andrew Crocker-Harris’ last day at an English public school. His health and marriage are failing and his pupils dislike him, but one student’s unexpected gesture of kindness may raise his spirits. Meanwhile, in Swan Song, in a new translation by Stephen Mulrine, Peter Bowles stars as elderly actor who wakes up in a dress room after giving his final performance to an almost empty theatre.
Hall also directs The Apple Cart, which joins the double bill in rep from 1 July to 1 August 2009 (press performance 14 July). In Bernard Shaw’s 1929 play, the cabinet threatens to resign en masses if the king doesn’t give up the royal veto. Janie Dee, currently in the West End in Alan Ayckbourn’s Woman in Mind stars.
Stephen Unwin, Hall’s successor as artistic director of Kingston’s Rose Theatre, directs David Storey’s modern classic Home, which runs in the main house from 7 July to 1 August 2009 (press performance 14 July). In a sunny garden, Harry and Jack while away the hours in rambling reminiscence and genteel chatter – until the arrival of the raucous Marjorie and Kathleen. John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson starred in the play’s premiere at the Royal Court in 1970. So far confirmed for the new production is David Calder, who was shortlisted for the Evening Standard’s Best Actor award for King Lear at Shakespeare’s Globe last summer.
Michael Frayn’s Balmoral is the final production in the main house, directed by Alan Strachan and running from 5 to 22 August 2009 (press performances 11 August). Written in 1978, the play is set in 1937 in the royal residence of the title, where warden Skinner oversees a commune of recalcitrant writers and a government inspector is about to call. Skinner is played by Rik Mayall. The former Young Ones star’s most recent stage credits include The New Statesman in the West End.
The world premiere of Peter Gill’s Another Door Closed runs from 4 to 29 August 2009 (press performances 11 August) in the Ustinov Studio. Two sisters’ memories of their childhood home are disrupted by a male visitor who reveals that their mother had been very kind to him. Gill’s other plays include Cardiff East, Kick for Touch, Certain Young Men, Small Change and The York Realist. In addition to productions of his own plays, his directing credits include Days of Wine and Roses, Scenes from the Big Picture, Gaslight, The Voysey Inheritance and The Importance of Being Earnest, which starred Penelope Keith and transferred to the West End last year following its initial run at the Theatre Royal Bath.
- by Terri Paddock