Actor Martin Freeman (pictured), star of The Office and the new film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz, who won this year’s Critics’ Circle Most Promising Playwright Award for The Night Season, will both return to London’s Soho Theatre over the coming months.

In October (exact dates still to be confirmed), Freeman will star in Toby Whithouse’s latest play, Blue Eyes and Heels. In 1998, Whithouse won Soho’s Verity Bargate Award for Jump Mr Malinoff Jump, which also starred Freeman and, in spring 2000, was the first full production at Soho Theatre’s current, custom-built premises on Dean Street. Whithouse has gone on to write for Channel 4’s No Angels and Dr Who.

In Blue Eyes and Heels, dubbed “a bleakly funny insight into the world of modern media”, Freeman plays a TV producer who wants to bring wrestling back to the small screen. The actor is best-known for TV appearances in The Office and was recently seen on stage in Kosher Harry at the Royal Court. Blue Eyes and Heels will be directed by Soho’s associate director Jonathan Lloyd.

Ahead of Whithouse’s play, Soho will premiere Lenkiewicz’s Shoreditch Madonna, running from 6 July to 6 August 2005. Previously a Writer on Attachment with Soho, the actress-turned-playwright’s first play, A Tale of Table Dancers, won a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival in 2000 and then opened London’s Arcola Theatre. Her second, The Night Season, was staged at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre last year (See News 2 Aug 2004).

In Shoreditch Madonna, we meet five dispirited characters whose lives collide in a modern tale of love and loss set in London’s East End. It’s directed by Sean Mathias whose recent West End productions have included Aladdin and Dance of Death, both starring Ian McKellen.

In the run up to Shoreditch Madonna, Soho presents Douglas Maxwell’s adaptation of John LeVert’s book The Flight of the Cassowary, Mancub, in association with Vanishing Point theatre (from 31 May to 18 June) and stand-up comedian Janey Godley’s one-woman play, Smack, about the effect of heroin on 1980s Glasgow (from 8 to 11 June 2005).

Currently at Soho, last year’s Verity Bargate winner A Night at the Dogs, written by Whatsonstage.com’s own Matt Charman, continues its limited premiere season until 14 May 2005 (See News, 16 Feb 2005).

- by Hannah Kennedy