If you thought you’d be safe to wait until the reviews came out, you thought wrong. In case you’ve missed the headlines in the newspapers this week, we’re sorry to inform you that, despite limits of a maximum of four tickets per customer, the entire run of Mike Leigh's new play at the National has already sold out. That’s 16,000 tickets snapped up in advance for the four-month NT Cottesloe season. The play doesn’t even start previews until 8 September 2005, ahead of a 15 September press night, and it still doesn’t have a title (See News, 4 Jul 2005). In fact, no one except those involved have a clue what it’s about. As per Leigh’s usual improvisational style, he and his eight-strong company - John Burgess, Ben Caplan, Allan Corduner, Adam Godley, Caroline Gruber, Nitzan Sharron, Samantha Spiro and Alexis Zegerman – have been devising the piece and exploring character together in private since 25 April 2005 (the director/writer requires a minimum 18 weeks’ rehearsal time). The secrecy has sparked off lots of speculation, of course. Actress Miriam Margolyes, who auditioned for a part, told a newspaper it was about “being Jewish” while the poster image, a drooping palm tree in a desert, has had others guessing it may be an anti-war piece. Others on the Whatsonstage.com Discussion Forum have their own ideas. Now best known for his films, including last year’s Vera Drake, this is his first new stage play since 1993’s It’s a Great Big Shame at Theatre Royal Stratford East. For those who haven’t been lucky enough to get a ticket, you can take your chances on the day, with 20 seats being held back for sale just before each performance, or you can hope that the NT will transfer the play to one of its larger auditoria in the New Year, as it recently did with Michael Frayn’s award-winning Democracy, which subsequently also had a run in the West End.
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