Shelagh Stephenson's An Experiment with an Air Pump, in the running for Best New Play, begins previews today at the Hampstead Theatre in Swiss Cottage, north London, where it opens Wednesday 14 October and continues until 7 November. The play is set in one house and two different time periods, 1799 and 1999. In the present day, a genetic scientist is invited by a research company to play God with the human gene system. But in the cellar, a secret buried for 200 years serves as a reminder that scientific experiment has its price. Originally produced by Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre in February, An Experiment with an Air Pump was also jointly awarded the 1998 Peggy Ramsay Award for New Writing. It is directed by Matthew Lloyd and stars Monica Dolan, Barbara Flynn, David Horovitch, Martin Ledwith, Pauline Lockhart, Tom Smith and Louise Yates.
Terence McNally's Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning Love! Valour! Compassion! also comes to town next week, opening at Covent Garden's Tristan Bates Theatre for eight performances only from Tuesday, 13 October until 24 October. In a celebration of contemporary gay life, the play follows a successful Broadway choreographer and dancer who invites various sets of friends to his upstate New York home for three holiday weekends over the summer. This Theatre 28 production, directed by Stephen Henry, transfers from the Edinburgh Fringe where it received The Stage Awards for Best Actor (Chris Pickles) and Best Ensemble. Love! Valour! Compassion! earned cast member Bryan Carney a Barclays' nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Carney also arrives in London next week in a separate production, Greg Day's Stripped, at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, west London.
In November, a revival of Pam Gems' The Snow Palace, a contender for Barclays' Best Touring Production, arrives at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, northwest London. The Snow Palace parallels the struggle between two leaders of the French Revolution with the life of one Polish woman, writer Stanislawa Przybszewka, who died in 1934. Przybszewka, who was obsessed with the Revolution, wrote one great play which was eventually made into a film, Danton, starring Gerard Depardieu. In Gems' play, Przybszewka's writing efforts are contrasted with actual events in Revolutionary Paris, 1793. Janet Suzman directs, with Kathryn Pogson as Przybszewka. The Snow Palace runs for three weeks only from 30 November to 19 December.
The winners of the awards, presented by the Theatrical Management Assoication (TMA), will be announced 25 October 1998 in Norwich at a ceremony hosted by Philip Schofield. For more information, see the previous What's On Stage news story TMA Nominations & Theatre Week Announced.