Scientist-turned-playwright Carl Djerassi will this month premiere his latest comedy at the New End Theatre in Hampstead, north London. Phallacy, inspired by actual events, will have a limited season from 15 April to 14 May 2005 (previews from 6 April).

In 1986, chemical analysis proved that a beautiful classical statue - ‘The Youth from Mt Magdalene’ in the Kunsthistorische, Vienna, for centuries judged to be a Roman original - was a 16th-century copy. But in what way does the re-attribution diminish its beauty?

A world-famous scientist, best known for the synthesis of the contraceptive pill in the 1960s, Djerassi is the author of multiples novels and plays such as An Immaculate Misconception and last year’s Three on a Couch.

The new piece is directed and produced by Andy Jordan, who’s directed four of Djerassi’s plays to date. It’s designed by Michael Taylor, with lighting by Chris Corner and music by Jon Nicholls. The cast are: Hamish Clark (TV’s Monarch of the Glen), Lynette Edwards, Chris Brazier, Jack Klaff, Karen Archer and Lucy Liemann.

Further ahead, at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington, north London, the first English stage version of Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s best-selling novel The Alchemist will transfer for a limited six-week season, from 9 May to 19 June 2005 (previews from 6 May), following its current 30-venue UK tour.

Coelho’s story of a shepherd boy’s quest for his dream, through the colourful bazaars of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert, has captured the imagination of readers around the world, with almost 30 million copies of the novel sold to date. The book, first published in Spanish in 1988 and in English in 1993, has been translated into 56 languages and is listed among the BBC’s 100 Big Reads. Coelho’s latest novel, The Zahir, will be published in the UK on 6 June 2005.

This stage adaptation of The Alchemist, by the Cornish Theatre Collective, was originally seen in a small-scale production at London’s Finborough Theatre in 2002. Now updated, the new staging is designed by Patrick and Suki Haughton, with commissioned music by Phil Innes (some of which is played live by the cast), and aerial puppetry by Paul Antonelli.

Directed by Dominic Knutton, the cast features Maria Fernanda Guirao, Lauren Hassan-Leslie, TJ Holmes, David Kershaw and Mario Vernazza. The London season is produced by James Seabright and Olivia Wingate.

- by Terri Paddock