Praed plays popular novelist Paul Sheldon who, for the past ten years, has delighted readers with his cheap historical romances featuring heroine Misery Chastain. During his annual writing retreat, Paul's car crashes in a blizzard. He's rescued by reclusive nurse Annie Wilkes (Penhaligon), who also happens to be his number one fan. But when Annie discovers that Paul's latest novel doesn't feature Misery, tender loving care turns into terrorism and a deadly cat and mouse game ensues as Paul finds himself forced to write a chapter of a new novel every day - simply to stay alive.
First published in 1987, two years later Misery was made into a Oscar-winning film, directed by Rob Reiner and starring James Caan and Kathy Bates. The novel has been adapted for the stage by Simon Moore. King’s many other best-selling thrillers include Carrie, Children of the Corn, Salem's Lot, Pet Sematary, Christine, The Stand and The Shining.
Praed and Penhaligon have previously appeared on stage together in 2003 UK tour of The Constant Wife. Praed is best known to TV fans for Robin of Sherwood and Dynasty. His many other stage credits include Aspects of Love, The Pirates of Penzance, The Caretaker and, more recently in the West End Contact and The Beautiful and the Damned and, last year at the King’s Head, Three on a Couch.
Penhaligon’s television series include Bouquet of Barbed Wire, Teenage Health Freak, A Kind of Living and A Fine Romance. On stage, she has starred in Dangerous Corner, Mysterious Mr Love, The Three Sisters, Of Mice and Men and The Real Thing in the West End, and Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, The Constant Wife, and Deathtrap on tour.
Misery is directed by Alan Cohen and designed by Claire Lyth, with music by Chris Madin and lighting by Hansjorg Schmidt. It’s produced by Lucy Blakeman and John Payton for Popular Productions Ltd.
Meanwhile, at The Mill at Sonning in Berkshire, another familiar TV face, Dempsey and Makepeace’s Glynis Barber, will also take to the stage this month. She stars in a new production of Terence Rattigan’s 1954 play Separate Tables, which has a four-week season from 13 September to 15 October 2005.
Telling two stories linked by the same characters, the play centres around the Hotel Beauregard, a typical small south coast establishment. It’s a refuge for the elderly, the lonely and somewhat eccentric. Here the long-term residents interact with each other and with the occasional short-term visitors.
Barber’s stage credits include Once in a Lifetime and the 2003 UK tour of The Graduate, in which she attracted headlines for not taking off her clothes as middle-aged seductress Mrs Robinson. She’s joined in the cast of Separate Tables by Anthony Valentine, Sarah Badel, Helen Ryan, Nick Waring, Alix Dunmore, Dennis Ramsden, Christine Russell, Susan Skipper and Patricia Kane. Alvin Rakoff directs.
- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock