The anniversary revival opened at the Comedy on 21 January 2004 (previews from 15 January), 75 years (to the day) since its first West End season at the Savoy Theatre (See News, 12 Dec 2003). Following critical acclaim, the production extended at the Comedy up to 1 May 2004, when it will now finish there ahead of transferring to the Playhouse for an open-ended season from 3 May.
Based on the author's own experience in the trenches of the First World War, the play follows a group of officers, positioned behind British lines at St Quentin, France, and awaiting their fate. Franks takes over from Haig as Lietenant Osborne, who helps the nerve-shot Captain Stanhope keep a steady hand as battle looms.
Franks is best known to TV fans for his long-running roles in the likes of Heartbeat and The Darling Buds of May. His recent stage acting credits include Breaking the Code, Noises Off, Art and Marat/Sade. As a director, his theatre productions include Private Lives and The Heiress at the National.
Original star Paul Bradley (of EastEnders fame) is also confirmed to remain in the role of Sgt Trotter. The rest of the current Journey's End ensemble features: Geoffrey Streatfield (Stanhope), Christian Coulson (Lt Raleigh), Phil Cornwell (Private Mason), Ben Meyjes (Lt Hibbert) and Rupert Wickham (Colonel).
The milestone production is directed by David Grindley, who directed the 25th anniversary revival of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, at the Hampstead Theatre and in the West End. Journey's End is designed by Jonathan Fensom, with lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Gregory Clarke. It’s presented by Background Productions.
- by Terri Paddock