First up, Hadden-Paton and Alexander play Pythons Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam in of Steve Thompson’s No Naughty Bits, helmed by Hampstead artistic director Edward Hall and running from 13 September to 15 October 2011 (previews from 8 September). The play reimagines the real-life trials of Gilliam and Palin as they take on the American television networks and courts in defense of English humour after all the rude bits were cut out of the Monty Python series when it was first broadcast in the US.
Hadden-Paton’s most recent stage credits include Flare Path, Posh and The Prince of Homburg, while Alexander’s include The Bacchae, Twelfth Night and Hay Fever. They’re joined by a stellar ensemble featuring Clive Rowe (ahead of, later this year in the West End, The Lady Killers), as well as John Guerrasio, Joseph May and Charity Wakefield.
No Naughty Bits is followed, from 26 October to 26 November 2011 (previews from 20 October), by the world premiere of Nicholas Wright’s The Last of the Duchess, directed by his frequent collaborator, former National Theatre artistic director Richard Eyre.
The new play is based on Caroline Blackwood’s 1995 book about the last days of Wallace Simpson, the American divorcee who became the Duchess of Windsor after marrying and necessitating the abdication of Edward VIII. Blackwood was originally commissioned to write an article about the Duchess, who died in 1986, for the Sunday Times in 1980. The book focuses on her attempts to organise interviews, while being obstructed by the Duchess’ lawyer Maitre Suzanne Blum, who Blackwood accused of essentially imprisoning the royal in her villa in Paris’ Bois de Boulogne.
Anna Chancellor plays Blackwood with Olivier Award winner Sheila Hancock as Blum and Angela Thorne as Lady Mosley. Most recently on stage, Chancellor has been seen in The Observer, Never so Good, Creditors and Boston Marriage; Hancock in Sister Act, The Anniversary and Cabaret (for which she won the Olivier for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical); and Thorne in The Reporter.
Wright and Eyre have worked together before on the multi award-winning Vincent in Brixton and The Reporter, both premiered at the National, and co-wrote the book Changing Stages, about British theatre across the 20th century. The Last of the Duchess is designed by Anthony Ward and lit by Peter Mumford.
Further casting is still to be announced for both productions.