Humble Boy, a new play by award-winning writer Charlotte Jones, receives its world premiere at the National's Cottesloe Theatre on 9 August, previewing from 3 August. John Caird will direct an impressive cast, featuring Diana Rigg, Simon Russell Beale and Denis Quilley.

A comedy about broken vows, failed hopes and the joys of bee-keeping, Humble Boy finds Beale in the role of a Cambridge astro-physicist. Following the sudden death of his father, he returns home to middle England and a difficult, demanding mother. The production represents Jones' first play at the National. Her previous work includes In Flame at the Bush and New Ambassadors theatres, which won the Critics' Circle Most Promising Playwright award. In addition, Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis enjoyed a successful regional tour and received two Best New Play awards.

Diana Rigg's distinguished theatre career includes Mother Courage, Phaedra and The Misanthrope for the National, plus Twelfth Night and Macbeth for the RSC. Among her West End highlights are Pygmalion, Follies and Medea (also in New York) for which Rigg won the Evening Standard and Tony Best Actress awards. Rigg has also starred in such major film and television works as Evil Under the Sun, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and The Avengers.

Simon Russell Beale is currently playing Hamlet at the Olivier following an international tour. His performance won the Evening Standard Best Actor award, and recent stage works include Caird's productions of Money and Candide at the National. Beale's RSC credits contain Richard III, Edward II and The Tempest, and he also won a BAFTA for Channel 4's A Dance to the Music of Time. Denis Quilley has performed in everything from intimate revue to opera, from Shakespearean tragedy, West End Musicals, television plays and serials, to films such as Privates on Parade and King David. In 1980 he was awarded Actor of the Year in a Musical Olivier for Sweeney Todd at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

An Honorary Associate Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company, John Caird was educated at Magdalen College School, in Oxford, and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He has twice received the Tony Award for Best Director, and his previous National productions include Hamlet, Stanley and Peter Pan. Caird has also directed over twenty plays for the RSC, alongside musical work in collaboration with Trevor Nunn and several television productions.

Jones' play is being supported by the Peter Wolff Trust. Founded by Wolff, a textile entrepreneur, the non-profit making Trust encourages the work of emerging British playwrights.

- by Gareth Thompson