Henry IV - which will see actor and former Almeida artistic director Ian McDiarmid (Faith Healer, The Jew of Malta, The Doctor's Dilemma on stage, Star Wars on screen) return to the London stage to take the title role - runs from 4 May to 26 June 2004 (previews 29 April).
After falling from his horse during a pageant, an Italian nobleman believes he is his carnival character, the medieval German Emperor, King Henry IV. For 20 years he has lived this illusion, aided by a wealthy relative who sets him up in an 11th-century castle, complete with a retinue of costumed courtiers. Today a plot is being hatched to shock him out of this 'madness' and into the 21st century.
Pirandello was seen earlier this year in the West End with Absolutely! (perhaps), Franco Zeffirelli's production of Martin Sherman's new version of the Italian playwright's 1917 piece Right You Are (If You Think So). Notable for their themes of absurdity and the relativity of truth, Pirandello's other plays include The Rules of the Game, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Each in His Own Way and As You Desire Me. He was awarded the Legion d'Honneur in 1923 and the Nobel Prize in 1934.
Recently voted one of the world's greatest living playwrights by Whatsonstage.com recent Big Debate survey, Stoppard's many original pieces include The Invention of Love, Arcardia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Real Inspector Hound, The Real Thing, Jumpers (about to transfer to the West End in the National Theatre revival starring Simon Russell Beale) and last year's epic The Coast of Utopia trilogy. He's also won an Oscar for his screenplay for Shakespeare in Love.
Henry IV will be designed by Christopher Oram, with lighting by Neil Austin and sound by Fergus O'Hare. Following the Donmar, the production will embark on a three-week national tour, launching Grandage's planned touring programme for the 250-seat London theatre (See "Changing of the Guard", Features, 21 Jul 2003).
The Pirandello play is followed, from 29 November 2004 to 12 February 2005, by Grandage's revival of the Tony Award-winning musical Grand Hotel, also designed by Oram with lighting by Hugh Vanstone. In 1928 Berlin, the guests and staff at Grand Hotel are suffering from an excess of hope and optimism as the stock market booms. The city's decadent high life is in full swing.
Grand Hotel is based on the Vicki Baum novel, which the musical's book writer Luther Davis found in a second-hand bookshop. Music and lyrics are by Robert Wright and George Forrest (Kismet), with additional material by Maury Yeston. The musical was revived to great acclaim on Broadway in 1989 and subsequently opened at the West End's Dominion Theatre in 1992.
As previously reported (See News, 22 Oct 2003), Steve Waters' World Music, seen this past summer at Sheffield Crucible where Grandage is associate director, will run at the Donmar from 16 February to 13 March 2004 (previews 12 February). It will be followed by the world premiere of Charlotte Jones' The Dark, a play about three isolated sets of neighbours directed by fellow Sheffield associate Anna Mackmin, running from 23 March to 24 April 2004 (previews 18 March).
NOTE: Public booking for World Music and The Dark opens on 24 November 2003, for Henry IV on 23 February 2004 and for Grand Hotel on 5 July 2004.
- by Terri Paddock