As previously tipped (See The Goss, the National Theatre production of Mike Leigh’s Two Thousand Years will embark on a regional tour in the New Year. The tour, in which the current NT cast will reprise their roles, kicks off on 7 February 2006 at Bath Theatre Royal before continuing, until 18 March 2006, to five further venues.

The writer-director’s first new stage play in 12 years, Two Thousand Years sold out its initial premiere season at the NT Cottesloe long before it opened this month. It opened on 15 September 2005 following delayed previews from 10 September, 18 weeks of rehearsal and months of hype and speculation about its title and content.

Set in modern London, the domestic drama revolves around the strained relationships in a middle-class Jewish family, whose liberal-minded parents are shocked when their son becomes religious. But which views are more rigid: the staunchly non-secular ones or those of a new-found faith? In Leigh’s own words, “the play explores, in a gentle tragi-comic way, a wide range of issues, including politics, religion, identity and the vexed question of Israel and the Middle East.”

The eight-strong cast comprises Adam Godley, Samantha Spiro, John Burgess, Ben Caplan, Allan Corduner, Caroline Gruber, Nitzan Sharron and Alexis Zegerman. The production continues its sell-out repertory run at the NT Cottesloe until 31 January 2006.

Now best known for his films, including last year’s award-winning Vera Drake, this is Mike Leigh’s first new stage play since 1993’s It’s a Great Big Shame at Theatre Royal Stratford East. His earlier plays include Babies Grow Old, Goosepimples and, of course, Abigail’s Party, while his other films include Naked, Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy and All or Nothing.

Following Bath, the tour of Two Thousand Years will visit Salford, Newcastle, Warwick, Malvern and Cambridge.

- by Terri Paddock