When the wife of a Malaysian rubber planter, Leslie Crosbie (Seagrove), is witnessed murdering a local playboy, she claims it was self defence. Utterly convinced of her innocence, her husband hires family friend Howard Joyce (Andrews) to defend her. The day before the case comes to trial, a mysterious letter comes to light, casting doubt on her integrity and threatening to cost her and her family everything.
The Letter was adapted by Maugham from one of his own short stories, which was based on a real life ‘crime passionel’ Maugham heard about when he was travelling in the Far East. William Wyler’s 1940 film version starred Bette Davis and Herbert Marshall. The last major London stage production starred Joanna Lumley at the Lyric Hammersmith in 1995.
Well known for her TV roles in Judge John Deed and A Woman of Substance, Seagrove’s many recent West End credits have included The Night of Iguana, The Secret Rapture, Brief Encounter, The Female Odd Couple, Hurlyburly and Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Wife.
Andrews achieved international fame for his award-winning performance as Sebastian Flyte in the 1981 television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited. His other screen credits include Under the Volcano, Love in a Cold Climate, The Duchess of Duke Street and Upstairs, Downstairs, while his stage credits include Coming to Land, Forty Years On, Ghosts, Vertigo and One of Us. He was recently seen in the West End as Count Fosco in The Woman in White and Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady.
Andrews and Seagrove are joined in The Letter cast by Andrew Charleson, Karen Ascoe, Jason Chan, Peter Sandys-Clarke, Sioned Jones, Andrew Joshi, Liz Sutherland, Jon David Yu and Jamie Zubairi. The Bill Kenwright production is designed by Paul Farnsworth with lighting by Jason Taylor, music by Catherine Jayes and sound by Ian Horrocks-Taylor.
Currently at Wyndham’s, the National Theatre’s multi award-winning production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys finishes its limited season, as scheduled on 14 April 2007. The Letter was seen last November at the Theatre Royal Windsor. In January of this year, it launched a two-month regional tour. Substantial changes have been made for this new West End staging.
- by Terri Paddock