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Scott Thomas, Pinter & Churchill Finish Court 50th

By • West End
The Royal Court has finalised programming for the closing months of its year-long 50th anniversary celebrations (See News, 11 Oct 2005). Remaining highlights include the world premiere of a new play by Caryl Churchill, Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter performing Samuel Beckett’s one-man play Krapp’s Last Tape and a production of Chekhov’s The Seagull starring double Award winner Kristin Scott Thomas (pictured) and Mackenzie Crook, both making their Royal Court debuts. The last two will be directed by outgoing artistic director Ian Rickson, who steps down at the end of this year after eight years in the job.

Jerwood Theatre Downstairs

Next up in the main house is the world premiere of Piano/Forte, which author/director Terry Johnson penned specially for actresses Kelly Reilly (Sexual Perversity in Chicago, After Miss Julie on stage, Mrs Henderson Presents on screen) and Hollywood’s Alicia Witt (who made her West End debut two years ago in The Shape of Things). The new play, about an errant Tory MP and his alarmingly difficult offspring, runs from 20 September to 14 October 2006 (previews from 14 September).

It’s followed, from 14 November to 22 December 2006 (previews from 10 November), by the world premiere of Caryl Churchill’s Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?. Churchill’s many previous plays premiered at the Royal Court include A Number, Far Away, Blue Heart, Serious Money, Top Girls and Cloud Nine.

Top Girls was performed by drama students this summer as part of the Royal Court’s 50th programme and 1979’s Cloud Nine was due to receive a major new production during the year care of Ian Rickson, but Churchill withdrew permission for Rickson’s revival, saying it may distract her from work on the new play. Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?, which is billed as a “searing exploration of transatlantic relations”, will be directed by Royal Court associate director James Macdonald.

The final 50th anniversary offering in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs will be Rickson’s production of The Seagull, in a new version by Christopher Hampton (who previously translated Uncle Vanya at the Court). Kristin Scott Thomas (who has won’s Best Actress Awards for her two West End appearances to date, in Pirandello’s As You Desire Me and another Chekhov, Three Sisters) and Mackenzie Crook (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on stage, The Office, Pirates of the Caribbean on screen) will play Madame Arkadina and Konstantin respectively. The cast will also feature Katherine Parkinson (Other Hands, The Age of Consent, TV’s The IT Crowd) as Masha.

The Royal Court’s production of The Seagull will be the second of three stagings of Chekhov’s 1896 classic from the UK’s leading theatrical institutions. Katie Mitchell’s production, featuring Juliet Stevenson and Ben Whishaw, opened last month at the National; in March 2007, Ian McKellen will star in a Royal Shakespeare Company production directed by Trevor Nunn in Stratford-upon-Avon (See News, 23 May 2006). Rickson’s production, designed by Hildegard Bechtler, starts performances at the Royal Court on 18 January 2007.

** DON’T MISS our Outing to PIANO/FORTE on 5 October 2006
- including a FREE drink, FREE playtext & access to our EXCLUSIVE post-show Q&A session
with the director & cast - all for just £25!! - click here for more details! **

Jerwood Theatre Downstairs

In the Royal Court’s studio space, the autumn begins with Levi David Addai’s comedy 93.2 FM, which runs from 8 to 16 September 2006 (previews from 6 September) ahead of a regional tour. Dawn Walton directs. It’s followed by On Insomnia and Midnight, written by Mexican playwright Edgar Chias and starring Amores Perres’ Vanessa Bauche, making her British stage debut. Translated by David Johnson and directed by Hettie Macdonald, the “tale to frighten chambermaids in the night” opens on 25 September (previews from 22 September) and continues to 7 October 2006.

For a limited number of performances from 11 to 21 October 2006 (not nightly, schedule still to be announced), Harold Pinter will appear in Krapp’s Last Tape, directed by Rickson. In Samuel Beckett’s 1958 study of mortality, creativity and memory, a 69-year-old man is alone on his last birthday, listening to the past. Best known for the many plays he has authored, for which he was last year awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (See News, 8 Dec 2005), Pinter has also enjoyed an impressive career as an actor, not least in many of his own plays, including One for the Road and The Collection.

Meredith Oakes’ new play Scenes from the Back of Beyond, set in a Sydney suburb in the 1950s, runs from 7 to 25 November 2006, directed by Annie Castledine. The final 50th anniversary production Upstairs will be Catch, a collaboration between five contemporary female playwrights, all of whom have previously been staged at the Royal Court: April de Angelis, Stella Feehily, Tanika Gupta, Chloe Moss and Laura Wade. Shared Experience joint artistic director Polly Teale directs the production which runs from on 5 to 22 December 2006 (previews from 1 December).

- by Terri Paddock

** DON’T MISS our Outing to PIANO/FORTE on 5 October 2006
- including a FREE drink, FREE playtext & access to our EXCLUSIVE post-show Q&A session
with the director & cast - all for just £25!! - click here for more details! **

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