Alex Jennings (pictured) and Nicholas Farrell will star as George W Bush and Tony Blair in the world premiere of David Hare’s much-anticipated play about the Iraqi war (See News, 5 May 2004). Stuff Happens, the final production in the Travelex £10 season in the NT Olivier, opens on 10 September 2004 (previews from 1 September) and continue in repertory until 6 November.

A regular on the South Bank, the multi award-winning Jennings starred in His Girl Friday, part of last year’s inaugural £10 season. His other recent National credits include Albert Speer, The Relapse and The Winter's Tale (for which he won the Evening Standard Best Actor Award) as well as his musical debut in the NT revival of My Fair Lady (for which he won the Olivier for Best Actor in a Musical).

Farrell was recently seen, at the National and in the West End, in Dinner. Also now confirmed for the Stuff Happens cast are Desmond Barrit as US Vice-President Dick Cheney and Adjoa Andoh as national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Barrit is currently starring as Pseudolus in the National’s musical revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which will run in rep with Stuff Happens as part of the £10 season.

Hare’s play takes its title from a quote made in April 2003 by US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld in response to the looting of Baghdad: “Stuff happens …. and it’s untidy, and freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things”. Rumsfeld, along with Cheney, were signatories of a letter addressed to President Clinton in 1998, which advocated that one of the chief strategies for securing a ‘New American Century’ was the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Stuff Happens sets out to dramatise the process leading up to the formation of the coalition, led by the US and UK, to invade Iraq last year. Still in flux, the play has been developed throughout this summer in the NT studio and will incorporate pertinent world events as they occur.

Stuff Happens is directed by NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner and designed by Christopher Oram, with lighting by Paul Anderson and sound by Paul Groothuis.

- by Terri Paddock