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Almeida Debuts Mamet Romance & Shepard Moss

By • West End
Michael Attenborough has announced his third season as artistic director of north London’s renowned Almeida Theatre. The season, running from September 2005 to June 2006, will have a strong American focus with European premieres of new plays by Pulitzer Prize winners David Mamet and Sam Shepard as well as a revival of Tennessee Williams’ rarely performed Period of Adjustment. Contemporary British dramatists Richard Bean and David Hare also have a hand in the season, presenting new versions of European classics by Moliere and Gorky.

The season opens with Mamet’s Romance, running from 8 September to 22 October 2005 (previews from 2 September). The satirical courtroom farce – which tackles wide-ranging subjects from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to sexual fidelity – had its world premiere this past February at Off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company, which Mamet co-founded 20 years ago along with actor William H Macy.

Romance will be directed by Lindsay Posner, whose recent West End productions have included starry revivals of Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago (with Matthew Perry and Minnie Driver), Oleanna (Aaron Eckhart and Julia Stiles) and, earlier this year, A Life in the Theatre (Patrick Stewart and Joshua Jackson).

Casting has not yet been announced for the new production, which will mark the first time the Almeida has ever presented Mamet. Amongst the writer and director’s other works are: on stage, Glengarry Glen Ross (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, now being revived on Broadway), American Buffalo and Speed-the-Plow; and on screen, in addition to many adaptations of his plays, The Untouchables, House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner, State and Main and Heist.

Lindsay Posner will also direct the season’s second production, Moliere’s 1673 play The Hypochondriac (aka The Imaginary Invalid), in a new version by Richard Bean (Under the Whaleback, Honeymoon Suite, The God Botherers, The Mentalists). In this character-based comedy, Argan loves to be sick, it’s his main occupation. The Hypochondriac, designed by Giles Cadle, opens on 17 November 2005 (previews from 10 November) and continues until 7 January 2006.


Michael Attenborough’s own production of Sam Shepard’s The Late Henry Moss opens the new year, from 12 January to 4 March 2006. Near the Mexican border, a family’s secrets are revealed as two brothers return home for a confrontation after a long absence. The play had its world premiere in San Francisco in 2000, in a production directed by the author, and was seen in New York two years later.

Shepard, also an accomplished film and stage actor, has written 45 plays to date, including True West, Fool for Love, A lie of the Mind and Buried Child (revived at the National last year), for which he received his Pulitzer. The Almeida’s European premiere production of The Late Henry Moss will be designed by Rob Jones.

It’s followed by Almeida associate director Howard Davies’ revival of Tennessee Williams’ 1960 play Period of Adjustment which has not been staged in London since 1962, the same year that the film version was released, starring a young Jane Fonda. The story takes place over 24 hours in which Korean war veteran George Haverstick and his new bride spend their honeymoon driving to Florida in an old hearse to meet up with one of George’s old war buddies.

Like Mamet and Shepard, Williams is also a Pulitzer Prize recipient, having won twice, for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire. His other plays include The Glass Menagerie, Sweet Bird of Youth and The Night of the Iguana. Period of Adjustment will run from 16 March to 29 April 2006 (previews from 9 March).

The 2005/6 season concludes with Attenborough’s production of David Hare’s new version of Gorky’s 1906 play Enemies, which opens on 11 May 2006 (previews from 11 May) and continues until 24 June. Originally outlawed in his native Russia, Gorky’s drama is set on a provincial family estate where the liberal-minded owner’s brother is killed in a scuffle with one of the workers. Gorky’s other plays include Summerfolk, The Lower Depths, Children of the Sun, Barbarians and Vassa, which was revived by the Almeida in 1999.

For the third year, the Almeida season is being sponsored by Coutts & Co. The current production, Blood Wedding, featuring Mexican screen star Gael Garcia Bernal, finishes its sell-out run on 25 June and is followed by the annual Almeida Opera season from 29 June to 9 July 2005.

- by Terri Paddock


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