Further casting has been announced for several new play productions opening over the coming weeks at four key Off-West End powerhouses: Hampstead, the Gate, the Menier Chocolate Factory and the Almeida theatres.

Continuing Hampstead Theatre’s 50th anniversary season (See News, 11 Nov 2008), Christopher Luscombe’s revival of Alphabetical Order runs from 21 April to 16 May 2009 (previews from 16 April), with a cast featuring Imogen Stubbs (pictured with director-husband Trevor Nunn), Ian Talbot, Annette Badland and Gawn Grainger, as well as Michael Garner, Jonathan Guy Lewis and Chloe Newsome.

Michael Frayn’s play, inspired by his early career in journalism, set in a provincial newspaper office where the lives and routines of a group of befuddled journalists are systematically ordered by librarian Lucy (Stubbs) and her young new assistant, Lesley. Alphabetical Order premiered at Hampstead in 1975 before transferring to the West End and winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy. After its run at Hampstead, this new production Oxford, Malvern, Bath and Richmond, where it concludes on 13 June.


At the Gate Theatre (See News, 4 Mar 2009), the UK premiere of Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga\'s Nocturnal runs from 21 April to 16 May 2009 (previews from 16 April) with Paul Hunter, Amanda Lawrence, Justine Mitchell and Justin Salinger in the four-strong cast. Nocturnal explores the complex nature of friendship, stripping away the layers of polite behaviour to reveal the power struggles beneath, as two men who live in the same apartment block bump into each other at the local. On this is no coincidence – one of them has been planning this moment for a very long time. The new translation by David Johnson is directed by Gate associate Lyndsey Turner.


At the Menier Chocolate Factory (See News, 10 Mar 2009), Neil Stuke leads the cast of Terry Johnson’s revival of Ben Travers’ 1926 English farce Rookery Nook, which runs from 29 April to 20 June 2009 (previews from 16 April). Newly married playboy Gerald Popkiss (Stuke) is on his way to Rookery Nook with his new wife Clara and his mother-in-law. Forced to travel on alone when his mother-in-law suddenly falls sick, Gerald arrives to find quite a commotion. A beautiful young girl has been thrown out of the house next door in nothing but her pink silk pyjamas and begs him to let her stay. Gerald must find the young girl some clothes and, until then, keep her hidden from his sister-in-law Gertrude, who lives nearby, and Rookery Nook\'s meddling maid, Mrs Leverett.

Stuke is joined in the cast by Edward Baker-Duly, Lynda Baron, Nick Brimble, Kellie Shirley, Clare Wilkie, Sarah Woodward and Mark Hadfield, who was Whatsonstage.com Award nominated for Therese Raquin at the National in 2006. Rookery Nook is designed by Tim Shortall, with lighting by Jason Taylor.


And finally, at the Almeida Theatre (See News, 14 Oct 2008), the cast for the European premiere of Australian stage and screen writer Andrew Bovell’s climate change epic When the Rain Stops Falling will feature two Australians, Simon Burke (most recently seen on the UK musical stage in The Sound of Music at the London Palladium) and Leah Purcell. They’ll be joined by several Almeida alumni – Lisa Dillon (Period of Adjustment, Hedda Gabler), Naomi Bentley (Out of the Fog) and Phoebe Nicholls (Whatsonstage.com Award nominated this past year for Waste) – as well as Jonathan Cullen, Richard Hope, Tom Mison and Sargon Yelda.

First seen in February 2008 at the Adelaide Festival, When the Rain Stops Falling spans four generations and two continents, moving from the claustrophobia of a 1950s London flat to the heart of the Australian desert. The new UK production is directed by Almeida artistic director Michael Attenborough and designed by Miriam Buether.

- by Terri Paddock