As tipped last week (See The Goss, 5 Sep 2003), London's Almeida Theatre will host the British premiere of Edward Albee's The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? . Running from 3 February to 13 March 2004 (previews 22 January), the production will be followed by the world premiere of David Eldridge's new stage adaptation of the 1998 Danish film, Festen (The Celebration), both plays centring around milestone birthdays.

In The Goat, during the same week that Martin is celebrating his 50th birthday, receiving an international prize and being awarded a lucrative contract, he's forced to confess to his wife and son that he's involved in a bestial relationship that will probably destroy his marriage, his career, and his life.

Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play, The Goat had its Broadway premiere in March 2002, when it starred Mercedes Ruehl and Bill Pullman. It's other prizes include New York Critics' Circle, Outer Critics' Circle and the Drama Desk Awards.

Edward Albee's first play, The Zoo Story, one of four one-act plays, was written in 1958. His 1962 modern classic about marital discord, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was revived at the Almeida in 1996. The production, directed by Howard Davies, moved to the West End's Aldwych Theatre following a sell-out run. In 1998 Davies directed for the Almeida the world première of Albee's The Play About the Baby which opened in Malvern prior to its Islington run. Albee's other work includes A Delicate Balance, Sea Scape and Three Tall Women, all of which were awarded Pulitzer Prizes.

The Goat will be directed by Anthony Page, whose recent West End credits include The Master Builder, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Albee's A Delicate Balance. The production is designed by Hildegard Bechtler.

In Festen, patriarch Helge Klingenfelt is celebrating his 60th birthday with his family at a magnificent old hotel in the Danish countryside. Gathered together are his loyal wife Elsa, his daughter Helene, and sons Christian and Michael. As the evening progresses, Christian feels compelled to break the silence surrounding a dark family secret.

David Eldridge's new English language stage adaptation of the original Dogme film will open on run from25 March to 24 April 2004 (previews from 18 March). It's directed by Rufus Norris (whose productions of Peribanez, Sleeping Beauty and Afore Night Come have recently been seen at the Young Vic) and designed by Ian MacNeil, with sound by Paul Arditti and music by Orlando Gough.

In 1997 Thomas Vinterberg, who initiated the Dogme95 movement alongside fellow director Lars von Trier, directed Festen. The multi-award winning feature film written by Vinterberg and Mogens Rukov was received with great critical acclaim internationally. The Almeida's production of Festenis presented in association with producer Marla Rubin.

Casting has not been confirmed for either production.

- by Terri Paddock