Patricia Routledge (pictured) returns to the stage tonight in Chichester Festival's revival of Jean Anouilh's Wild Orchids, in a new translation by Timberlake Wertenbaker. The production, the second in Chichester's 40th anniversary summer season, begins previews tonight, 29 May, before opening on 5 June and continuing in repertory until 20 July 2002.

Routledge, a veteran stage actress, has regularly appeared in productions for the National and the RSC as well as in the West End. Her last major stage appearance was in the 1999 Chichester production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, which transferred to the West End last year. Earlier this year, she was forced to withdraw from Manchester Royal Exchange's revival of JB Priestley's Time and the Conways due to ill health.

In Wild Orchids, Routledge plays the Duchess whose nephew, the Prince, mourns his lost love Leocadia, who accidentally strangled herself with her own scarf three days after their initial encounter. Desperate to soothe her nephew's sorrow, the Duchess introduces him to Amanda, a young milliner with more than a passing resemblance to Leocadia.

Set in the 1930s and written in the 1940s, Wild Orchids was first performed in London in the 1950s, when it ran for two years under the title Time Remembered. The Chichester production is directed by Edward Kemp and designed by Poppy Mitchell, with lighting by Jon Buswell, sound by John Leonard and music by Gary Yershon.

Routledge is joined in the cast by Timothy Bateson, Kit Benjamin, Edward Clayton, Lewis Hancock, Michael Jayston, Ronald MacLeod, Rosanna Mason, Andrew Scarborough, Helmut Scholz, Sheila Shand Gibbs, David Timson, Katherine Toy, Catherine Walker and Timothy Wright.