Sinead Cusack and John Hannah will star in Neil LaBute's post-9/11 drama The Mercy Seat, which receives its British premiere at London's Almeida Theatre, where it runs from 30 October to 6 December 2003, following previews from 23 October (See News, 3 Feb 2003). The two-hander will be the first directed in the Islington theatre by Michael Attenborough, who took over as artistic director last year (See "Changing of the Guard: Almeida", Features, 12 May 2003).

It's 12 September 2001. While the dust is still settling, Ben and Abby can choose to see what has happened as a tragedy, a catastrophe ... or an opportunity. With New York City choked with xeroxes of missing persons, this is their chance to disappear - to be dead to the world or to start a new life.

In November 2002, LaBute himself directed the adulterous two-hander's world premiere of at New York's MCC Theater, where it starred Hollywood's Sigourney Weaver and Liev Schreiber. The Almeida has previously staged premieres of LaBute's Bash, The Distance From Here and, most successfully, The Shape of Things, which later transferred to Broadway and the big screen.

The Irish-born Sinead Cusack - not to be confused with sister Niamh who, in another cast announcement today, was confirmed to appear concurrently in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials at the National (See Today's Other News) - was seen in Stratford and the West End last year with the RSC production of Antony and Cleopatra. In 1998, she appeared at the National in Sebastian Barry's Our Lady of Sligo, winning both the Evening Standard and Critics Circle awards for Best Actress. Scotsman Hannah is best known for his films including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sliding Doors, The Mummy and The Mummy Returns.

At the Almeida, The Mercy Seat will be designed by Robert Jones, with lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by John Leonard. Just opened last week at the theatre, the world premiere of I.D., written by and starring Antony Sher, continues until 18 October 2003.

- by Terri Paddock