British film star Anna Friel will make her West End debut next year in the Almeida's production of Lulu when the fringe theatre company returns to the Old Vic Theatre. The tragedy, based on Wedekind's two Lulu Plays in a new version by Nicholas Wright, is directed by the Almeida's Jonathan Kent. It will open at the Old Vic on 7 March 2001, with previews from 22 February, and will continue until 5 May 2001. The production will also be presented at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, for a limited run/op S later next year.

Lulu traces the decline and fall of a young woman possessed of a fatal combination of overpowering sexuality and innocence. As she passes through Berlin and Parisian high society to the streets of London, she roundly destroys and is ultimately destroyed by her lovers.

Conceived as one 'monster tragedy', Lulu was originally written by Wedekind as two separate plays, Earth Spirit (1893) and Pandora's Box (1894). It has since been the subject of an opera by Alban Berg and a classic silent film by Pabst. Nicholas Wright, whose latest play Cressida was premiered by the Almeida at the West End's Albery Theatre earlier this year, was specially commissioned by the theatre to adapt a new version as a single work.

Anna Friel makes her London theatre debut playing the title role. Friel famously made her stage debut last year on Broadway, playing Alice in Patrick Marber's Closer, for which she won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress. Her television work includes Brookside, GBH, The Tribe and Our Mutual Friend, while on film she has featured in Mad Cows, Rogue Trader, Landgirls, A Midsummer Night's Dream and the forthcoming Everlasting Piece and War Bride.

Lulu is designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Jonathan Dove and sound by John A Leonard. The Almeida's last season at the Old Vic was with the 1998 sell-out production of Eugene O' Neill's The Iceman Cometh, starring Kevin Spacey, which transferred following its premiere at the Almeida's home base in Islington, north London.

Booking for Lulu opens on 20 November 2000.