As previously tipped (See The Goss, 5 Jan 2006), Rufus Sewell will star alongside Brian Cox and Sinead Cusack in Tom Stoppard’s latest, Rock 'n' Roll. The play, directed by Trevor Nunn, receives its world premiere as part of the year-long 50th anniversary celebrations at the Royal Court, where it runs from 3 June to 15 July 2006 before transferring to the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre (dates tbc).

Specially written for the Royal Court – where both Stoppard and Nunn, a former artistic director of both the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, will be making their venue debuts with the production - Rock 'n' Roll spans the recent history of Czechoslovakia between the Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution - but from the double perspective of Prague, where a rock 'n' roll band came to symbolise resistance to the regime, and the British left, represented by a Communist philosopher at Cambridge.

Stoppard’s other plays - often premiered at the National Theatre, several directed by Nunn - have included The Coast of Utopia, The Invention of Love, The Real Thing, Night and Day, Travesties, Jumpers, The Real Inspector Hound, Hapgood and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Explaining at the 50th anniversary launch why he wanted to premiere a play at the Royal Court after so many years, Stoppard said: “I want to be part of the Royal Court’s history before I pack it in. Some of my best nights of the last 40 years have been spent in the Royal Court’s auditorium. I don’t want to fall under a bus before having a play on its stage.”

Rufus Sewell’s last London stage appearance was in the 2001 revival of John Osborne’s Luther at the National, where he also starred in the premiere of Stoppard’s Arcadia in 1993. He’s also performed A Rat in the Skull at the Royal Court and Macbeth in the West End. His films include Carrington, Dark City, Martha Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence, The Honest Courtesan, Illuminata, A Knight’s Tale and The Legend of Zorro.

Cox has become well known internationally for his many films, including Manhunter, Adaptation, The Ring, X-Men and The Bourne Identity as well as his TV appearances in the likes of Minder, Inspector Morse, Red Dwarf and Frasier. He was last seen on the London stage in Conor McPherson’s Dublin Carol, which reopened the refurbished Royal Court in 2000 premiere. Sinead Cusack’s recent stage credits include The Mercy Seat, Antony and Cleopatra and the 1998 NT premiere of Sebastian Barry’s Our Lady of Sligo, which won her both the Evening Standard and Critics Circle awards for Best Actress.

Currently at the Duke of York’s is Embers, the new Christopher Hampton play which has returned Cusack’s husband Jeremy Irons to the London stage for the first time in nearly 18 years (See News, 3 Mar 2006). It opened on 1 March 2006 (previews from 15 February) and last month extended its limited season until 24 June 2006.

- by Terri Paddock