Richard Wilson (pictured) and Helen Schlesinger will star in the comedy Whipping it Up at the Bush Theatre this autumn (See News, 12 Jul 2006). Fresh from the premiere of his own play Piano/Forte at the Royal Court, Terry Johnson will direct the world premiere of Steve Thompson’s political satire at the Bush, where its limited season runs from 10 November to 16 December 2006 (previews from 8 November).

Wilson is best known for his television role in One Foot in the Grave. He starred in Cinderella at the New Wimbledon Theatre last Christmas, and his other numerous stage credits include Waiting for Godot, The Play What I Wrote and What the Butler Saw. Also an accomplished director, Wilson’s directing credits have included Tom and Clem, Primo, The Woman Before, Rainbow Kiss, Playing the Victim and Where Do We Live, many of them at the Royal Court, where’s he’s an associate.

Schlesinger was most recently seen playing Elizabeth Proctor in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which transferred to the West End’s Gielgud Theatre earlier this year. Her other stage credits include Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice for the RSC, as well as Comfort Me With Apples, Wild East and Messiah.

Whipping it Up is set one week before Christmas, when the new Tory government is facing dissent over its latest bill. With a majority of only three, the whips are out in force and will stop at nothing to keep the strays in line. Thompson’s last play, Damages, which premiered at the Bush, won the 2005 Meyer-Whitworth Award.

In other casting news, Stephen Moore has replaced Anton Rodgers as Hector in the 2006 UK tour of The History Boys, which opens tonight (31 August 2006) at Birmingham Repertory Theatre (See News, 18 Jul 2006). According to a spokesperson for the National Theatre, Rodgers has had to withdraw from the production for personal reasons.

Moore has performed in 23 productions for the National, including Bedroom Farce (also West End, on Broadway and on television). His work for the RSC includes All's Well That Ends Well (also on Broadway) and A Doll’s House, for which he won an Olivier Award. His most recent stage appearances include Festen at the Almeida and My Fair Lady on tour.

In its latest tour, the National’s production of Alan Bennett’s multi-award-winning play will visit 11 UK cities in autumn 2006. Following Birmingham, it continues to Nottingham, Coventry, Bradford, Hull, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Belfast, Llandudno, Cardiff and Manchester, where it concludes on 25 November 2006.

The tour follows two sell-out seasons at the National Theatre, an eight-week UK tour in 2005, an international tour to Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia, and a season on Broadway (where it opened in April 2006). The production is directed by Nicholas Hytner and redirected for the tour by Simon Cox. The cast also includes Isla Blair (as Mrs Lintott), William Chubb (as the Headmaster) and Orlando Wells (as Irwin).

- by Caroline Ansdell