Nigel Harman (pictured), James Dreyfus and The League of Gentleman’s Reece Shearsmith will star in a major new revival of Simon Gray’s 1984 comedy The Common Pursuit, which will have a limited season at Southwark’s Menier Chocolate Factory from 27 May to 20 July 2008 (previews from 9 May).

A study in how friendships evolve and outlast their original form, Gray’s play charts the progress of a group of Cambridge undergraduates who launch a literary publication, The Common Pursuit. Fresh, determined and gifted, their joint venture brings them together in friendship, hope and the promise of a bright future. But as the years go by the friends find it hard to stay true to the ideals of their youth in the world beyond.

Nigel Harman is best known to TV fans from his role as Dennis Wick in EastEnders. His stage credits include Privates on Parade, Three Sisters, The Lady in the Van, The Exonerated and, most recently, Guys and Dolls and The Caretaker.

James Dreyfus’ screen credits include Gimme Gimme Gimme and Notting Hill; he’s most recently been seen on the West End stage in Cabaret, Donkeys’ Years and The Producers. Shearsmith’s stage credits also include The Producers, for which he was Whatsonstage.com Award nominated for taking over as Leo Bloom, and As You Like It.

The Common Pursuit cast will also feature Robert Portal (The 39 Steps, Tom and Viv), Ben Caplan (Two Thousand Years, TV’s The Passion) and Mary Stockley (Anything Goes, Merrily We Roll Along). The production is directed by Fiona Laird, who most recently directed Stephen Fry’s Aladdin at the Old Vic. It’s designed by Anthony Lamble, with lighting by Hartley TA Kemp, and presented by David Babani for Chocolate Factory Productions.

Currently at the Menier, Maria Friedman’s new solo concert show, Maria Friedman: Re-arranged, continues its limited season until 4 May (See 1st Night Photos, 31 Mar 2008).

- by Terri Paddock