A regular at the National and the RSC in the 1970s, Blethyn branched out largely into television in the 1980s while, over the past decade, she has become best known for her big screen roles in films such as A River Runs Through It, Night Train, Little Voice, Saving Grace and, most notably, Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies, for which she won a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination.
Blethyn's renowned stage appearances have included the premiere of Michael Frayn's Benefactors (Vaudeville), Steaming (Royal Exchange) and, most recently, Sam Mendes' 1997 Donmar Warehouse production of Alan Bennett's Habeas Corpus. In 1990, she made her Broadway debut in Alan Ayckbourn's Absent Friends, winning a Theater World Award for Outstanding New Talent.
Written in 1894 but not performed until 1902, Mrs Warren's Profession, one of Shaw's most provocative plays. In it, serious-minded Cambridge graduate Vivie Warren discovers how her mother turned to prostitution to fund their family's comfortable lifestyle. Mrs Warren's continued involvement in the world's oldest profession sets the pair at odds.
Founding director of both the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sir Peter Hall is perhaps the country's most famous living director, and one who's stayed incredibly busy over the past few years. His recent high-profile productions have included Bacchai, Lady Windermere's Fan with Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson, The Royal Family with Judi Dench, and John Barton's nine-hour Greek epic tragedy, Tantalus.
The Shaw revival reunites Hall and Blethyn who worked together at the National Theatre in the 1970s on productions of Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine and Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce.
- by Terri Paddock