The Circle was recently voted one of the top 100 Plays of the 20th Century in the National Theatre's NT2000 poll and is widely regarded to be Maugham's most important play.
A comedy of manners set in the 1920s, it concerns a prominent family and the double standards they must maintain to stay in the public eye. Arnold Champion-Cheney MP refuses to forgive his mother, Lady Kitty, for abandoning their family in favour of her lover. When Kitty returns to the husband and son she left behind, she discovers that her daughter-in-law Elizabeth now faces the same dilemma.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Britton, who plays Lord Porteous, became the most famous Professor Henry Higgins since Rex Harrison in productions of My Fair Lady in the West End and on tour in both the UK and US. Amongst his other London credits are The First Born, Gigi, The Night of the Ball, Kill Two Birds, The Seagull,The Doctor's Dilemma and The Accused. He has just completed a UK-wide tour of Hobson's Choice. On TV, Britton is best known his popular series including Don't Wait Up with Nigel Havers.
Craig, who plays Lady Kitty, is best known for her television roles in Butterflies and The Forsyte Saga, and recently appeared on stage playing Mrs Malaprop in The Rivals (RSC). Craig and Britton are joined in the cast of The Circle by Jeremy Child, Hattie Morahan, William Buckhurst, Dale Rapley, Barbara Kirby and Knight Mantell.
This production was originally staged by Oxford Stage Company and Salisbury Playhouse's in October 2000. Director Mark Rosenblatt revives the recast production, with new designs to Tim Shortall, lighting by Ben Ormerod and sound by Tom Lishman. It is presented on tour by TEG productions in association with Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.
Following Malvern, the tour continues to Guildford, Bath, Edinburgh, Greenwich Theatre in London and Cambridge.
- by Sarah Beaumont