Last night’s performance of Six Characters in Search of an Author at the West End’s Gielgud Theatre was cancelled after star Ian McDiarmid (pictured) was taken ill. Tomorrow’s matinee has also been called off.

A spokeswoman told Whatsonstage.com that McDiarmid, former joint artistic director of the Almeida, felt unwell after the curtain call at Monday’s press performance of the new Rupert Goold production (See 1st Night Photos, 16 Sep 2008). He’s now resting, but producers expect him to return to the show by Monday. In the meantime, starting from this evening’s performance, the role of the Father will be played by understudy Stephen Crane.

Goold and his co-adapter Ben Power have updated the 1921 classic by Italian Luigi Pirandello for the “media-obsessed age” of the 21st century. In the exploration of reality and the blurred border between fiction and life, between the stage and the world outside, six characters arrive unannounced during the editing of a documentary film. Unfinished characters desperately in search of an author, the documentary producer agrees to let them film their story.

McDiarmid is joined in the cast by Jamie Bower, Eleanor David, Noma Dumezweni, Dyfan Dwyfor, Christine Entwisle, Denise Gough, Jake Harders, Jeremy Joyce, John Mackay and Robin Pearce. Six Characters in Search of an Author is designed by Mariam Beuther, with lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, video by Lorna Heavey and sound by Adam Cork.

The production, a co-production with Goold’s Headlong Theatre company, was first seen at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre in July and is booking for a limited season at the Gielgud until 8 November. It’s presented in the West End by Carole Winter and Michael Edwards.

The spokeswoman said: “It’s completely regrettable - especially after having just opened a great show with such fantastic reviews - but Ian’s health is obviously the most important thing, and we’re very happy that he’s now making a speedy recovery. We hope to have the full cast back on by Monday.”

Theatregoers who booked for one of the cancelled performances should contact the box office or their point of sale for refunds or exchanges.

- by Terri Paddock