Former National Theatre artistic director Trevor Nunn will return to London's South Bank this winter to direct the premiere stage adaptation of David Almond's children's fantasy Skellig, which opens for a limited season at London's Young Vic from 3 December 2003 (See The Goss, 28 May 2003).

In April of this year, Nunn stepped down after five-and-a-half years as artistic director of the National, just down the road from the Young Vic on the South Bank of the Thames in London. Since then, he's directed an acclaimed revival of Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea, starring Natasha Richardson at the Almeida Theatre. In October, his final NT musical, the Olivier Award-winning revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes, will transfer to the West End's Theatre Royal Drury Lane (See News, 6 May 2003).

Adapted for the stage by Almond himself, Skellig tells the story of Michael, a sad young boy whose baby sister is dying and whose family have just moved to a run down house in what he calls the wilderness. Skellig is a curious creature Michael finds in his garage, a grubby little old man with bad breath who's crippled by Arthur-itis.

Almond's novel won the 1998 Whitbread Award for children's book of the year, beating off competition from Harry Potter, and was also awarded the prestigious Carnegie Medal. Almond's other books for children include Counting Stars, Kit's Wilderness, The Fire-Eaters and Secret Heart.

Prior to Skellig’s Christmas run, the Young Vic's autumn/winter season will feature the return of Peter Brook's Le Costume (The Suit) for three weeks from 26 August 2003 (See News, 11 Jun 2003), followed by a new Icelandic version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet which employs aerial trapeze and acrobatic choreography to dramatise the young lovers' tragic romance. Co-produced with Reykjavik's Theatre Vosturport, Romeo and Juliet runs from 1 to 25 October 2003.

In the Young Vic's studio space, Nizar Zubi (who directed last year's production of Alive from Palestine) will revive Sam Shepard's 1996 two-hander When the World Was Green in September. Come December, the studio will also house an alternative version of the main house Skellig, which will run concurrently and will be specially adapted for children under five years.

Currently at the Young Vic, Rufus Norris' production of Lope de Vega's Peribanez concludes its extended season this weekend (14 June 2003) and is followed - from 2 July to 9 August 2003 (previews from 26 June) - by Tanika Gupta's new British-Asian version of Harold Brighouse's comedy, Hobson's Choice, which will tour following its London dates (See News, 21 May 2003).

It was previously hoped that Josette Bushell-Mingo's acclaimed revival of Langston Hughes musical comedy Simply Heavenly - which starred Rhashan Stone, Clive Rowe and Ruby Turner in its sell-out run earlier this year - would return to the Young Vic this autumn ahead of a West End transfer but those plans have now been put on hold (See The Goss, 28 May 2003).

NOTE: Preview dates for some of the autumn/winter productions above have yet to be confirmed.

- by Terri Paddock