Americans M Emmet Walsh, Elizabeth Franz and Six Feet Under’s Lauren Ambrose (pictured) will make their UK stage debuts next month in the National’s revival of Buried Child, the first major London production of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play in over 20 years (See News, 15 Jul 2004). It opens on 29 September 2004 at the NT Lyttelton (previews from 18 September), where it continues in repertory up to 15 December 2004.

In Shepard’s 1978 play, it’s a curious homecoming for forgotten son Vince, whose girlfriend can’t stop laughing – until she steps inside his childhood house and meets his half-crazed relatives. Violence is never far from the surface in this claustrophobic domestic world, and the unexpected reunion triggers catastrophe.

Ambrose (who plays Shelley) is familiar to TV fans as Claire Fisher from US black comedy series Six Feet Under. Her other screen credits include Swimming, Psycho Beach Party and Admissions. In New York, she has appeared on stage in Soulful Scream of a Chosen Son.

Franz (Halie) is a stage veteran, whose many Broadway credits include Brighton Beach Memoirs, Broadway Bound, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, Long Day’s Journey into Night, Morning’s at Seven, The Cripple of Inishmaan and Death of a Salesman, for which she won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Actress. Franz was previously due to make her West End debut in the last, co-starring Brian Dennehy, but its expected transfer to the Old Vic never materialised (See News, 7 Sep 1999).

Walsh (Dodge) is one of Hollywood’s leading character actors, with more than 100 films and countless TV series to his name, including Blade Runner, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Raising Arizona, Ordinary People, Wild Wild West, Romeo + Juliet, The Milagro Beanfield War, Harry and the Hendersons, Cannery Row, East of Eden, Blood Simple and, most recently, Christmas with the Kranks. On stage, Walsh’s credits include Sweet Bird of Youth and All My Sons.

The Americans are joined in the cast by Sam Troughton (at the NT, The Coast of Utopia and Tartuffe, for which he received his third Ian Charleson commendation) as Vince, Brendan Coyle (Olivier Award winner for The Weir) as Tilden, Sean Murray (The Crucible, Shared Experience’s Jane Eyre) as Bradley and John Rogan (Jumpers, The Playboy of the Western World, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Richard II at the NT) as Father Dewis.

Buried Child is directed by Matthew Warchus, who has previously directed Life X 3 and Volpone at the National. His additional West End productions include Art, The Unexpected Man, Endgame, Tell Me on a Sunday, Our House and the upcoming musical of The Lord of the Rings. Warchus also directed Shepard’s True West in the West End and on Broadway.

Buried Child is designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Natasha Katz, music by Gary Yershon and sound by Paul Groothuis.

In other National news, further casting has also been announced for The Mandate, which opens in the NT Cottesloe on 26 October 2004 (previews from 15 October). Nikolai Erdman’s 1924 Russian farce, which was banned for decades in the former USSR, is adapted and directed by Cheek by Jowl’s Declan Donnellan (now an NT associate) and designed by Nick Ormerod (See News, 15 Jul 2004).

In addition to the previously announced Deborah Findlay (Mother Clap’s Molly House and Stanley, for which she won and Olivier) and Sinead Matthews (The Crucible), the cast includes Bruce Alexander, David Collings, Sarah-Jane Drummey (currently in The Night Season at the Cottesloe), Naomi Frederick (Complicite’s Measure for Measure), Daniel Hart, Martin Hutson (Ghosts, Another Country, As You Like It), Sean Jackson, Carol Macready, Laurence Penry-Jones, Michael Rouse, Adrian Scarborough (currently in The False Servant at the Cottesloe), Roger Sloman, Harry Towb and Anne White.

- by Terri Paddock