Double bills are in vogue following the West End success of the Stoppard / Shaffer bill - The Real Inspector Hound and Black Comedy - at the Comedy Theatre. Now Riverside Studios, a fringe venue in west London, is staging a unique double bill of a rarely performed three-hander by Samuel Beckett with the UK premiere of a South African drama. The joint productions will run from 24 September to 11 October 1998 (previews from 22 September).

Joe Harmstone - who is himself no stranger to double bills having directed an evening of back to back Pinter (The Lover and The Collection) earlier this year at the Donmar Warehouse - directs Beckett's Play. Premiered at the Old Vic in 1964 and unperformed since 1971, Play marked the beginning of Beckett's long and fruitful association with his muse, Billie Whitelaw. In Play, Beckett revisits one of his favourite themes - portraying people's hidden inner lives - as three characters trapped in urns are forced to reveal their fearful and brittle interior landscapes.

From a different theatrical tradition entirely, Duma Ndlovu's contemporary play, The Ritual, examines the need for both collective and personal spiritual healing in the new South Africa. Ndlovu has played a major part in showcasing and promoting the work of black South African artists, both in his native country and internationally. His plays include Sheila's Day which toured the US and had a limited run on Broadway, Bergville Stories and The Game. The Ritual, a physical piece performed in words and music, features a full South African cast in its UK premiere.