Mrs Klein premiered in 1988 at the National, where Higgins frequently treads the boards (currently in All’s Well That Ends Well) and where she starred in Wright’s Vincent in Brixton, which subsequently transferred to the West End and Broadway (and back again) and won her one of her Oliviers for Best Actress.
Higgins’ many other stage credits include Oedipus, The Secret Rapture, Children’s Hour, Sweet Bird of Youth, Absence of War, Napoli Millionaria, King Lear (all at the NT), The Fever (Royal Court), Phaedra (Donmar), Death of a Salesman, Night of the Iguana and Ride Down Mount Morgan (West End).
Set in London in 1934, Wright’s play revolves around Melanie Klein, who is one of the most admired, yet controversial, psychoanalysts of her time. Though a supposed expert on childhood, Melanie’s relationship with her own daughter, also a psychoanalyst, is badly damaged. An unexpected message from abroad brings it to bitter confrontation. The news also poses a mystery that even Mrs. Klein, despite her genius for analysis, cannot solve. It’s left to her new assistant, a refugee from Hitler’s Berlin, to find a possible answer.
Ahead of Mrs Klein at the Almeida (See News, 14 Oct 2008), Christopher Hampton resumes his fascination with Austrian playwright Odon von Horvath, who in 1938 was killed by a falling tree branch in Paris, with the world premiere of von Horvath’s final play, 1937’s Judgment Day, which is directed by James Macdonald and runs from 10 September to 17 October 2009 (previews from 4 September).
In a small village in Austria, diligent station master Thomas Hudetz is a well respected member of the local community until flirtatious young Anna momentarily distracts him from his duties, causing a fatal train wreck for which the town needs to find the culprit. Hampton has previously adapted von Horvath’s Tales from the Vienna Woods, Faith Hope and Charity and Don Juan Comes Back from the War and, in his own original play, Tales from Hollywood, imagined him as a character who survived the tree branch and emigrated to Los Angeles.
The full cast is Suzanne Burden (Mrs Hudetz), Alan David (Pokorny/Prosecutor), Laura Donnelly (Anna), Ben Fox (Kohut/Customer), Tom Georgeson (Landlord), Daniel Hawksford (Ferdinand), Jack James (Salesman/Detective/Platelayer), Joseph Millson (Thomas Hudetz), Jake Nightingale (Policeman), Julie Riley (Leni), Andy Williams (Woodsman/Inspector) and Sarah Woodward (Frau Leimgruber). Lewis Lempereur-Palmer and Thomas Patten will alternate the role of the child.
In other play casting news elsewhere: