Ian Charleson Award winner Andrea Riseborough (pictured) will join Spooks star Matthew Macfadyen in the UK premiere of American Bruce Norris’ satirical comedy The Pain and the Itch (See News, 30 Mar 2007), running at the Royal Court Downstairs from 21 June to 21 July 2007 (previews from 14 June).

Riseborough won last year’s Ian Charleson Award for her performances in the Peter Hall company productions of Miss Julie and Measure for Measure. Prior to that, she was also nominated for Newcomer of the Year in the Whatsonstage.com Awards for her title performance in A Brief History of Helen of Troy.

Billed as “a withering look at phoney liberal values”, The Pain and the Itch opens with a cosy family Thanksgiving dinner for six. Someone - or something - is leaving bite marks in the avocados. Clay and Kelly's daughter Kayla has an itch and Carol can't remember who played Gandhi. Norris’ play premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago before a sold-out run Off-Broadway.

Also in the cast are: Sara Stewart (Proof, A Month in the Country, TV’s Sugar Rush), Amanda Boxer, Abdi Gouhad and Peter Sullivan. The UK premiere of The Pain and the Itch is directed by Dominic Cooke in his first production since taking over as artistic director of the Royal Court earlier this year (See News, 6 Feb 2007).

** DON’T MISS our Whatsonstage.com Outing to THE PAIN & THE ITCH on 26 June 2007 - including our EXCLUSIVE post-show Q&A with Dominic Cooke & the cast - all for just £25!! - click here for more details! **

In other play casting news, Shakespeare’s Globe regular John McEnery will return to the Bankside landmark to play Shylock in this summer’s production of The Merchant of Venice, which runs from 12 June (previews from 2 June) to 6 October 2007 as part of this year’s “Renaissance + Revolution” repertory season (See News, 6 Feb 2007).

McEnery’s previous Globe credits are Pericles, Henry V, As You Like It, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, A Mad World My Masters, Antony and Cleopatra, King Lear, Richard II, Edward II and Romeo and Juliet. He also created the role of Hamlet in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

He’s joined in The Merchant of Venice cast by: Michelle Duncan (as Portia), Kirsty Besterman, Philip Bird, Cornelius Booth, Jim Bywater, Philip Cumbus, Leander Deeny, Michelle Duncan, Craig Gazey, Adam Kay, John McEnery, Pippa Nixon, Chris Obi, Dale Rapley, Mark Rice-Oxley and Nicholas Shaw. The production is directed by Rebecca Gatward (The Canterbury Tales for the RSC) and designed by Liz Cooke.

- by Terri Paddock