Ahead of the first preview of Ivanov tomorrow night (12 September 2008), theatre owner Cameron Mackintosh dropped in to attend a photocall to mark the beginning of the Donmar West End season at the Wyndham\'s Theatre earlier today. Also in attendance were the Donmar’s artistic director Michael Grandage and the West End season’s artistic associate Kenneth Branagh.

The Donmar Warehouse’s West End season is running concurrently with ongoing regular programming at its 250-seat Covent Garden home, and comprises four high-profile productions: Ivanov, starring Kenneth Branagh; Twelfth Night, with Derek Jacobi as Malvolio; the UK premiere of Yukio Mishima’s little-known Japanese play Madame de Sade led by Judi Dench and Rosamund Pike, and Hamlet, with Jude Law in the title role. The first three are all directed by Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage with the last helmed by Branagh.

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In the opening production of Chekhov’s first play, 1887’s Ivanov, in a new version by Tom Stoppard, Branagh is joined by Andrea Riseborough as Sasha and Gina McKee as Anna Petrovna (See News, 20 Jun 2008). The all-star ensemble also features: Kevin R McNally, Malcolm Sinclair, Tom Hiddleston, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Lucy Briers and Lorcan Cranitch.

Once a man of limitless promise, Ivanov (Branagh) is plunged into debt. His marriage is in crisis, and his evenings are spent negotiating loans, avoiding love affairs and fighting to resist the small town jealousies and intrigues which threaten to engulf his life.

The production is designed by Christopher Oram, with lighting by Paule Constable and music and sound by Adam Cork. Ivanov opens at the Wyndham’s on 17 September and runs until 29 November 2008.

- by Theo Bosanquet

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