As previously reported (See News, 9 May 2008), Eileen Atkins and Anna Maxwell Martin will reunite with director Roger Michell and Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith for the UK premiere of Murray-Smith’s The Female of the Species, which is now officially confirmed to open on 16 July 2008 (previews from 10 July) at the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre, where it’s initially booking for a limited season until 4 October 2008.

Atkins and Maxwell Martin played mother and daughter in the UK premiere of Murray-Smith’s Honour, directed by Michell at the National in 2003. In the new piece, Atkins is a Germaine Greer-like feminist held captive in her country home by Maxwell Martin. Margot Mason (Atkins), a pioneer of 1970s feminism and author of The Cerebral Vagina and other best-sellers, now has writer\'s block. When uninvited fan Molly (Maxwell Martin) arrives – followed by family and friends - she seems to offer a solution. But then she produces a gun.

The pair will be joined in the cast by Sophie Thompson (pictured), Con O\'Neill, Sam Kelly and Paul Chahidi. Sophie Thompson, the younger sister of Emma, won an Olivier for Into the Woods at the Donmar Warehouse. Her other stage credits include Company, Measure for Measure and All’s Well That Ends Well, while on screen she’s been seen in EastEnders, Gosford Park, Fat Slags, Nicholas Nickleby, Emma and Persuasion on screen.

A fellow Olivier winner, for Blood Brothers, Con O\'Neill’s other stage credits include Southwark Fair, Midnight Cowboy, The Caretaker, The Fastest Clock in the Universe, Blasted, Mother Clap’s Molly House and Telstar, for which he was Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated.

Veteran Sam Kelly is best known to TV fans for his roles in the likes of Porridge, On the Up, Paul Merton in…, Dave Allen and ‘Allo, ‘Allo. On stage, his many credits include, most recently, Kean, Much Ado About Nothing, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Aladdin.

Paul Chahidi’s recent stage credits include The Arsonists and Rhinoceros at the Royal Court, and at the RSC, Merry Wives – The Musical, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, American Pilot, The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed. The Female of the Species is designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting by James Whiteside and sound by Matt McKenzie. It’s produced in the West End by David Richenthal and Mary Beth O’Connor, Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer for Nimax Theatres.

The Female of the Species had its world premiere in 2006 in Melbourne, but Murray-Smith was inspired to write it following the real-life incident in this country in 2000 when fellow Australian Germaine Greer, whose ground-breaking 1970 tract The Female Eunuch brought international fame, was held captive in her Essex country house.

Currently at the Vaudeville Theatre, Greta Scacchi stars in Edward Hall’s revival of Terence Rattigan\'s modern classic about obsessive love, The Deep Blue Sea, which runs for a limited season to 5 July (See News, 27 Mar 2008).

- by Terri Paddock