London’s newest producing house gets into full gear this month with the transfer of the New York City hit, Americana Absurdum, which will have a limited eight-week season from 17 May to 4 July 2004 (previews from 1 May) at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark, south London.

Brian Parks’ comedy in two acts became a downtown cult hit, winning the Best Writing Award at the New York International Fringe Festival, before 2000 Fringe First success in Edinburgh.

In part one, Vomit and Roses, a family funeral business resists corporate takeover as the kids prepare for their high school prom. In part two, Wolverine Dreams, an airliner crash brings about an unlikely union in a wrongful death lawsuit.

In the new production, American John Clancy, founding artistic director of the New York International Fringe Festival, directs an international company of nine who play more than 40 characters between them. The cast are: David Calvitto, Bill Coelius, Eva van Dok, Brian Dykstra, Leslie Farrell, Jody Lambert, Matt Oberg, Paul Urcioli and Nancy Walsh. In London, Americana Absurdum is produced by Menier’s David Babani and Clancy Productions.

A working chocolate factory until after the Second World War, the Menier was renovated and reopened as a performance space earlier this year. The 220-seat venue - which also has a gallery, bar and restaurant on-site – effectively becomes a full-time producing house with Americana Absurdum, though there are plans for an official launch this autumn, when year-round programming will be announced.

This week, ahead of the Parks’ satire, the Menier hosts the new revised version of Snoo Wilson’s 1971 comedy about a schizoid German POW who returns to work at a Yorkshire pig farm. Pignight runs until 9 May 2004, with a UK tour planned for later this year.

In the new production, Wilson himself stars along with Paul Freeman (Art) and Gary Kemp of 1980s pop group Spandau Ballet (whose screen acting credits include The Krays). Pignight is directed by Anthony Banks and designed by Gemma Jackson, with lighting and mixed media design by Hugh Llewellyn. It’s produced by Suzy Graham-Adriani and Helen Prosser for Cactus Productions.

- by Terri Paddock