Casting has been announced for three major London productions – revivals of Isben’s The Wild Duck at the Donmar Warehouse and Moliere’s The Hypochondriac at the Almeida and the premiere of Laurie Slade’s Joe and I at the King’s Head - as well as two of the productions from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s bard-free winter season in Stratford-upon-Avon. Award winner Ben Daniels, who opens next week in Kathy Burke’s production of Sam Shepard’s The God of Hell at the Donmar, will stay on for The Wild Duck. In David Eldridge’s new version of Henrik Ibsen’s 1884 drama, directed by artistic director Michael Grandage, Daniels will play Gregers Werle, the idealistic son of a wealthy businessman who seeks to expose his father's duplicity. The cast also includes Paul Hilton, William Gaunt, Nicholas Le Prevost, Susan Brown, Peter Eyre, Michelle Fairley and Sinead Matthews. The Wild Duck runs from 13 December 2005 to 18 February 2006 (previews from 8 December 2005).

At the Almeida, TV impressionist Ronni Ancona (whose stage credits include Singin’ in the Rain and Kris Marshall (TV’s My Family) will join Henry Goodman who takes the title role The Hypochondriac (See News, 5 Sep 2005). The new adaptation by Richard Bean is directed by Lindsay Posner and runs from 17 November 2005 to 7 January 2006 (previews from 10 November 2005). The cast also features Stephen Beard, Stephen Boxer, Simon Gregor, David Killick, John Marquez, Lyndsey Marshal, Carey Mulligan, Gyuri Sarossy, Daniella Wilson and Amy Lucas.

Nearby the Almeida in Islington, Peter Bowles (pictured) will star in Laurie Slade’s new biographical comedy about playwrights Terence Rattigan, Joe Orton and Oscar Wilde, Joe and I, which will now open on 15 November 2005 (previews from 8 November) and continue to 18 December. Set in Rattigan’s apartment in 1964, Terry (Bowles) writes to congratulate Joe on the success of his first play, little realising his actions will lead to sex, love, grief and murder, with a few good laughs on the way. Joe Harmston directs a cast that also includes Bryan Murray (as Oscar) and Simon Hepworth (Joe).

Prior to its year-long Complete Works festival in Stratford-upon-Avon (see News 11 Jul 2005), the RSC is producing Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations from 6 December 2005 (previews from 25 November) to 4 February 2006, and Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales directed by Gregory Doran, Rebecca Gatward and Jonathan Munby and adapted by Mike Poulton, which will be in the Swan Theatre from 8 December 2005 to 4 February 2006 (See News, 26 Apr 2005).

Declan Donnellan’s production of Dickens’ classic stars Sian Phillips (The Dark, The Unexpected Man, Marlene) making her Stratford debut as Miss Havisham. She’s joined in the cast by Neve McIntosh, Tobias Beer, Richard Bremner, Philip Cumbus, Gwendoline Christie, Sophie Duval, Julius D’Silva, Brian Doherty, Ruth Everett, Robert Hastie, Emma Lowndes, Philip McGinley, Adam Newsome, Samuel Roukin, Roger Sloman and Jem Wall.

In the Chaucer, Paola Dionisotti (Further Than the Furthest Thing) plays the Prioress with Claire Benedict (RSC Jacobean season) as the Wife of Bath. The rest of the cast are Michael Jibson (best known for his musical roles in Our House and Brighton Rock) as well as Nick Barber, Daon Broni, Dylan Charles, Lisa Ellis, Christopher Godwin, Michael Hadley, Anna Hewson, Edward Hughes, Michael Mateus, Barry McCarthy, Chu Omabala, Ian Pirie, Joshua Richards, Christopher Saul, Katherine Tozer and Darren Tunstall.

- by Caroline Ansdell