The Lyric Hammersmith’s new artistic director David Farr launches his inaugural season tonight (Friday 2 September 2005) at the west London theatre with a revival of his acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company staging of Julius Caesar. Featuring Zubin Varla as Brutus and Gary Oliver as Mark Antony, it runs until 15 October 2005. The Lyric’s autumn/winter schedule then continues with a number of collaborations and visiting productions.

In the main house auditorium, from 19 to 29 October 2005, the Young at Heart Chorus, a 28-strong company from Massachusetts, who range in age from 73 to 92, sing the music of their children and grandchildren’s generation in Road to Nowhere, co-production by the Rotterdamse Schouwburg, London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) and the Lyric Hammersmith. Touring troupe Shared Experience brings its production of Bronte, about the lives of the famous Victorian writing sisters, to the venue from 1 to 26 November 2005 (See News, 8 Jun 2005).

The Magic Carpet, written by Farr and Ben Hopkins, has a Christmas run from 2 December 2005 to 14 January 2006. In the Arabian, two adventurous young thieves meet while trying to steal the magnificent treasure of the Sultan of Arabia. It’s followed, from 20 January to 18 February 2006, by Nights at the Circus, presented by Lyric Hammersmith and Bristol Old Vic in association with acclaimed Cornish company, Kneehigh Theatre. The show is a new adaptation by Tom Morris and Emma Rice (Kneehigh’s artistic director) of Angela Carter’s novel about a trapeze artist called Fevvers.

Farr retells the epic Greek story of Homer’s The Odyssey from 24 February to 1 April 2006. A bedraggled and desperate stranger is washed up on the shores of a great city. Challenged by two immigration officers, he claims to be Odysseus, sacker of Troy. Ensemble acting, live music and puppetry combine to tell the story of one of history’s most enduring heroes, who won a war but lost everything in his search for home.

In the Lyric Studio, the season’s visiting productions include: Sonja Linden’s Crocodile Seeking Refuge, which lifts the lid on the asylum stories behind the headlines (20 September to 8 October); Nirjay Mahindru’s The Hot Zone about three British Asian men incarcerated in an unfamiliar land, inspired by the Guardian dossiers of interviews from Guantanamo Bay (11 to 15 October); and Jails, Hospitals and Hip Hop, presented by UK Arts Productions and Danny Hoch, founder of the Hip Hop Theatre Festival, (1 to 4 November).

Formerly joint artistic director of Bristol Old Vic, Farr started in June 2005 at Lyric Hammersmith after Neil Bartlett, the theatre’s artistic director for ten years, stepped down last October (See News, 19 Oct 2004).

- by Caroline Ansdell