The Royal Court opens its autumn season upstairs with Playing the Victim the latest from the Russian Presnyakov brothers. The first of two Royal Court co-productions, this collaboration with Told By An Idiot runs from 1 September to 4 October 2003.

Playing the Victim is a black farce about a man whose job is to play the victim in police crime reconstructions. His philosophy is that, by faking death a little bit every day, he will postpone or avoid real death for himself. Writers Oleg and Vladimir Presnyakov also penned Terrorism which was seen at the Court in March.

2003 marks Told By An Idiot's tenth anniversary, which its celebrated with four shows throughout the year, Playing the Victim being the fourth and final. The other three were A Little Fantasy (at Soho Theatre), The Firework-maker's Daughter (at Sheffield Crucible) and I'm a Fool to Want You (at the BAC).

Company co-founders Hayley Carmichael and Paul Hunter will star in the production and Royal Court veteran Richard Wilson directs, his other court credits include Under The Whaleback, Where Do We Live and Nightingale and Chase.

Playing the Victim will have a short run at the Traverse Theatre as part of the Edinburgh festival from 12-23 August before transferring to the Royal Court Upstairs in September it will then tour to six further venues, Plymouth, Coventry, Liverpool, Leicester, Manchester and Sheffield.

Victim is followed by Blest Be The Tie by Dona Daley who sadly died last year. Her only other play Stick Stack Stock played at the Red Room Theatre company in the late 90s. This production is directed by Dominic Cooke and is set to star Mona Hammond. Best known for playing Blossom in TV Soap Eastenders, Hammond’s theatre credits include Fuente Ovejuna and The Crucible at the National also the fool in King Lear.

In another Royal Court collaboration, this time with Out of Joint - who also celebrate their tenth anniversary this year - Duck by Stella Feehily will be the last play to open Upstairs in 2003 (see News - 24 June 2003). Directed by Max Stafford Clark the show tours 12 venues before taking up residence at the Royal Court from 26 November to 10 January 2004.

- By Hannah Kennedy