At Hampstead Theatre (See News, 10 Jul 2007), Roger Allam will be joined in the world premiere of Antony Sher’s new play The Giant (pictured) by a cast of familiar Royal Shakespeare Company faces including Philip Voss, Simon Trinder, Stephen Hagan, Richard Moore, Barry McCarthy and Ricky Champ.
Voss is a noted film, television and stage actor, and at the RSC has played the major roles of Shylock, Malvolio and Prospero; his film credits include Four Weddings and A Funeral, Octopussy and Indian Summer. Trinder took part in seven RSC productions in the 2003/4 season, notably Cymbeline and Measure for Measure , and Moore appeared in The Winter’s Tale and Pericles. Hagan, a recent LAMDA graduate, has since been in the RSC’s Troilus and Cressida, while McCarthy was in 2006’s adaptation of The Canterbury Tales.
The Giant, directed by RSC chief associate director Gregory Doran and designed by William Dudley, runs at Hampstead from 1 November to 1 December 2007. An exploration of the dark interplay between sexuality and creativity, the drama centres on Leonardo Da Vinci (Allam) and his rivalry with Michelangelo over an artistic commission to sculpt the statue of David.
Meanwhile at the Young Vic from 7 September to 20 October (See News, 23 May 2007), Carston McCullers’ American classic The Member of the Wedding is revived by Young Vic associate director Matthew Dunster exactly 50 years on from its London premiere. Set in small-town Georgia in 1945, the play sees 12-year-old tomboy Frankie sharing her crazy dreams with her worldy-wise maid Berenice. Desperate to join the sophisticated world of her brother and his fiancée, she schemes to leave home and become a ‘member’ of their wedding.
Flora Spencer-Longhurst makes her professional debut as Frankie, while New York theatre actress Portia (known only by her first name) will play Berenice. Portia has risen to prominence through Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman’s renowned LAByrinth Theater Company. Her other credits include The Merchant of Venice (Goodman Theater/RSC/world tour) and the 2006 film World Trade Center. The production is designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, with lighting by Philip Gladwell, sound by Paul Arditti and music by Olly Fox.
Around the corner from the Young Vic at the National Theatre, director Marianne Elliott has recruited several actors - Jamie Ballard, Finn Caldwell, Gareth Kennerley and Luke Treadaway - from her current production of Shaw’s Saint Joan for her next NT Olivier offering, the stage adaptation of Michael Morpugo’s children’s novel War Horse.
Also in the cast are: Alice Barclay, Jason Barnett, Paul Chequer, Thomas Goodridge, Thusitha Jayasundera, Rachel Leonard, Tim Lewis, Tommy Luther, Emily Mytton, Toby Olie, Toby Sedgwick, Ashley Taylor-Rhys and Alan Williams.
In War Horse, young Albert's beloved horse Joey is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France during the First World War. He's soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man's land. However, Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, the boy embarks on a treacherous mission to find the horse and bring him home.
Suitable for over 12s, War Horse is brought to life using puppets created by Adrian Kohler. The production is designed by Saint Joan’s Rae Smith and in rep in the NT Olivier from 17 October (previews 8 October).
- by Stuart Denison