The Royal Shakespeare Company has rescheduled the cancelled press performance of Trevor Nunn’s much-anticipated staging of King Lear, starring Ian McKellen in the title role, for 31 May 2007. The press night (which was previously scheduled for 3 April 2007) had to be changed at short notice last week when leading lady Frances Barber (pictured), seriously injured her knee in a bicycle accident (See News, 2 Apr 2007).

It now falls on the same day as the company’s press night for The Seagull, which is also directed by Nunn and performed by the same 23 actors, who will now open both plays to the press on 31 May, with a matinee of King Lear (in which Barber plays Goneril) followed by an evening performance of The Seagull (in which she plays Arkadina).

A spokesperson for the RSC said: “The decision to delay the King Lear press performance is to allow the ensemble company time both to rehearse and perform The Seagull in repertoire with King Lear after Frances has made a complete recovery. King Lear has continued performances, with Melanie Jessop in the role of Goneril, and The Seagull will commence preview performances on 17 April with Melanie playing the role of Arkadina.”

Following Stratford, both productions visit Newcastle’s Theatre Royal (29 June – 7 July) and then embark on an international tour to Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the US, concluding in Los Angeles on 28 October 2007.

Barber previously played opposite McKellen in the Old Vic’s Aladdin in 2005/6. She won the Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Closer to Heaven 2002 and was nominated for Best Actress in a Play for her role as Nurse Ratched opposite Christian Slater in the 2004 West End run of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Last summer, she starred as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra at Shakespeare’s Globe.

The company for King Lear and The Seagull also features: Romola Garai (Cordelia/Nina), Sylvester McCoy, Monica Dolan, Jonathan Hyde, Ben Meyjes and William Gaunt. Others in the cast are: Ben Addis, Adam Booth, Russell Byrne, Richard Goulding, Julian Harries, John Heffernan, Peter Hinton, Seymour Matthews, David Weston, Guy Williams, Philip Winchester, Zoe Boyle, Naomi Capron and Melanie Jessop. The productions are designed by Christopher Oram, with lighting by Neil Austin, sound by Fergus O’Hare and music by Steve Edis.

- by Caroline Ansdell