The National Theatre has announced further casting and repertory dates for its new booking period, running from June to October 2005 (See News, 3 Feb 2005).

In the Olivier – Travelex £10 Season

Continuing this year’s Travelex £10 Season in the NT Olivier, The UN Inspector receives its world premiere on 16 June 2005 (previews from 7 June). Freely adapted from Gogol’s Russian satire The Government Inspector by David Farr (the Bristol Old Vic joint artistic director and artistic director designate of London’s Lyric Hammersmith), who also directs, the play centres on a British businessman (played by Michael Sheen) who is spotted at the Marriott by ex-Soviet government aides who mistake him for the dreaded UN inspector (See News, 16 Feb 2005).

Sheen and David Ryall will be joined in the cast by Kenneth Cranham (An Inspector Calls, Flight and Cardiff East at the NT) as well as Mark Arends, Geoffrey Beevers, Elizabeth Bell, Kate Best, Sam Cox, Michelle Dockery, Nick Fletcher, Michael Gould, Daisy Haggard, Geraldine James, Mark Leadbetter, Penelope McGhie, Jonathan McGuinness, Justin Salinger, Nicolas Tennant and Tony Turner.

The fourth and final production will be another politically-orientated premiere, David Edgar’s Playing with Fire, which will open on 21 September 2005 (previews from 12 September) in a production directed by Almeida artistic director Michael Attenborough.

When the District Council of Wyverdale fails to satisfy a government audit, New Labour high-flyer Alex is sent north from London to formulate a robust recovery plan. But websites, faith festivals and council leaflets in Bengali seem beside the point to the Labour old guard, struggling to provide the basics to an alienated and divided electorate. What begins as a metro-versus-retro comedy of misunderstanding soon becomes a chilling drama about multicultural Britain. Casting for Playing with Fire has not yet been announced.

The Travelex season launches this month with NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner’s productions of Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, which open together on 4 May 2005 (following previews from 16 and 26 April respectively). Michael Gambon plays Falstaff in a company that also features David Bradley, David Harewood, Matthew Macfadyen, John Wood, John Carlisle, Ian Gelder and Naomi Frederick (See News, 7 Jan 2005).

In the Lyttelton

Tom Cairns’ new production of Irish playwright Brian Friel’s 1979 play Aristocrats (supported by a simultaneous NT Education mobile tour of Friel’s 1980 play Translations, directed by Sean Holmes, which will visit the NT Cottesloe for a fortnight in November) will open on 12 July 2005 (previews from 2 July) and run in the NT Lyttelton repertoire until October.

The cast will feature Dervla Kirwan (Dangerous Corner, TV’s Ballykissangel, Hearts and Bones), Peter McDonald (Days of Wine and Roses, The Lieutenant of Inishmore), Gina McKee (Old Times on stage, The Forsyte Saga, Notting Hill, Our Friends in the North on screen) and Andrew Scott (who won the 2004 Best Newcomer Olivier for A Gril in a Car with a Man at the Royal Court).

Ahead of that, as previously reported (See News, 10 Jan 2005), Jim Broadbent will star as the disgruntled Shakespearean thesp who takes poetic revenge on sniping drama critics in the stage adaptation of the 1973 cult classic horror film Theatre of Blood, which opens in the NT Lyttelton on 19 May 2005 (previews from 9 May) and continues in repertoire until September. The collaboration between the National and Improbable Theatre is written by Improbable’s Lee Simpson and Phelim McDermott, who also directs. The cast also features Rachael Stirling (playing the part of Edward’s daughter, the role taken by her mother Diana Rigg in the film original), Sally Dexter, Hayley Carmichael, Paul Bentall, Nick Haverson, Mark Lockyer, Tim McMullan, Rachael Spence and Steve Steen.

Scheduled for the Lyttelton repertoire later in 2005 (dates still tbc) are: Katie Mitchell’s revival of Martin Crimp’s Attempts on Her Life, originally staged as a studio piece at the Royal Court’s Theatre Upstairs in 1997; physical theatre company DV8’s latest, Just for Show, running for nine performances only at the National as part of an international and UK tour; and Jonathan Kent’s production of Ibsen’s 1881 classic Ghosts, in a new version by Nicholas Wright.

In the Cottesloe

In the National’s smallest auditorium, the world premiere of The President of an Empty Room, the first play by Dirty Pretty Things screenwriter Steven Knight, will be directed by Howard Davies and will run from 28 June to 27 August 2005 (previews from 17 June). A story of voodoo, heroin and tobacco, The President of an Empty Room is set in Cuban cigar factory where work goes to hell when the senior roller proclaims a democracy. The cast features Jim Carter (The Mysteries) and Paul Hilton (Mourning Becomes Electra) as well as Georgina Ackerman, Nona Dumezweni, , Fraser James, Inika Leigh Wright, Petra Letang, Stephen Moore, Lucian Msamati, Anthony O’Donnell and Tracey Saunders.

Ahead of that, Simon Stephens’ new play On the Shore of the Wide World will run from 26 May (previews from 20 May) to 22 August. A co-production with Manchester’s Royal Exchange, where it premiered this week, the play crossing three generations of a family in modern Stockport is directed by Sarah Frankcom. The cast are: Siobhan Finneran, Nicholas Gleaves, David Hargreaves, Susannah Harker, Carla Henry, Roger Morlidge, Thomas Morrison, Eileen O’Brien, Matt Smith and Steven Webb.

The long-awaited, though still untitled, play written and directed by Mike Leigh is still due to join the Cottesloe repertoire in September. As with all of Leigh’s work, the piece will be developed improvisationally with the actors who are: Adam Godley, Samantha Spiro, John Burgess, Ben Caplan, Allan Corduner, Caroline Gruber, Nitzan Sharron and Alexis Zegerman. Also due for the Cottesloe repertoire later in 2005 (dates still tbc) are premieres of Paul, written by Howard Brenton (Romans in Britain) and directed by Howard Davies and Samuel Adamson’s modern South Bank-set Southwark Fair, directed by Hytner.

- by Terri Paddock