Peter Bowles and Sian Phillips will star in a new touring production of Yasmina Reza’s The Unexpected Man, which opens on 2 May 2005 at Richmond Theatre before continuing, until 16 July 2005, to ten further venues.

The two-hander tells the story of middle-aged, embittered novelist Paul and his life-long fan Martha who meet on a train journey from Paris to Frankfurt. The characters do not speak to one another for the majority of the play, but their thoughts about each other and life in general are revealed through monologue.

The Unexpected Man received its UK premiere, in Christopher Hampton’s English-language translation from the French, with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican Pit in 1998. That production, starring Michael Gambon and Eileen Atkins, transferred to the West End.

Bowles was seen in the West End last year in Simon Gray’s The Old Masters. His other recent West End appearances have included Sleuth, The Royal Family, The Beau, Major Barbara and The Entertainers, though he's best known to TV fans for his roles in sitcoms such as To the Manor Born, Only When I Laugh and Perfect Scoundrels.

Phillips was seen last year in Charlotte Jones’ The Dark at the Donmar Warehouse. Her many other stage credits have included Marlene, A Little Night Music, An Inspector Calls, The Lion in Winter The Old Ladies. On screen, Phillips has appeared on television in the likes of Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor, How Green Was My Valley, The Quiet Man, Heartbreak House, Vanity Fair, I Claudius, A Mind to Kill and Perfect Scoundrels.

Yasmina Reza is best known in this country for her long-running comedy Art. Her other plays include Life x 3 and Conversations After a Burial. The new production is directed by Deborah Bruce and designed by Imogen Cloet, with lighting by Natasha Chivers and sound by Rich Walsh.

Following Richmond, The Unexpected Man will visit Leeds, Cambridge, Bath, Malvern, Darlington, Westcliff on Sea, Brighton, Woking, Coventry and Bromley. It’s presented on tour by Theatre Royal Bath Productions.

- by Terri Paddock