British television actress Helen Baxendale will come out of 'retirement' this autumn to star with Kelly Reilly and Richard Coyle in the stage premiere of After Miss Julie - Patrick Marber's version of August Strindberg's 1888 clash of the classes classic Miss Julie - which runs at the Donmar Warehouse from 25 November 2003 to 7 February 2004 (previews from 20 November).

Though she launched her acting career with seasons at the Glasgow Citizens Theatre, Baxendale (pictured) is best known for her television roles in the likes of Cardiac Arrest, Cold Feet and the US sitcom Friends, in which she played Ross' English wife. Her other screen credits include An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, The Cappuccino Years, Ordinary Decent Criminal and Dead by Monday. Earlier this year, with the airing of the final series of Cold Feet, Baxendale caused headlines in the British press when she stated her intention to quit acting in order to spend more time with her young family.

Marber's After Miss Julie relocates Strindberg's tale about a footman who seduces a count's daughter on the night of a midsummer festival to an English country house in July 1945 on the night of the British Labour Party's election victory. Baxendale will play Christine, a more suitable partner for Coyle's chauffer John than Reilly's lady of the house Julie.

Reilly was most recently seen with Minnie Driver, Matthew Perry and Hank Azaria in Sexual Perversity in Chicago at the Comedy Theatre and has also been seen in the West End in The Graduate and Three Sisters as well as A Prayer for Owen Meany, The London Cuckolds (National) and Blasted (Royal Court).

Coyle won this year's Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Award for his 2002 performances in Peter Gill's The York Realist and, at the Donmar, in Proof opposite Gwyneth Paltrow. He's also a familiar face on British television for series such as Coupling and Strange.

After Miss Julie is directed by Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage and designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting by Neil Austin. Currently at the Donmar Warehouse, the revival of Stephen Sondheim musical Pacific Overtures finishes tomorrow (6 September 2003) and is followed, from 17 September 2003 to 15 November (previews from 11 September), by Robin Lefevre’s revival of John Osborne’s A Hotel in Amsterdam, starring Tom Hollander and Olivia Williams.

- by Terri Paddock