Alfie Allen, younger brother of Lily Allen, is to make his stage acting debut in the national touring production of Equus, last seen at the Gielgud Theatre, where it played a limited season from 16 February, closing on 9 June ahead of a Broadway transfer (See News, 20 Apr 2007).

Opening at Chichester Festival Theatre on 31 January, where the tour begins, Allen will follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe in the role of troubled teen Alan Strang who undergoes psychiatric treatment after stabbing the eyes of six horses while working at a riding stables.

Radcliffe received high critical acclaim for his performance in the West End revival of Peter Shaffer’s 1973 play earlier this year, co-starring Richard Griffiths as psychiatrist Martin Dysart and directed by Thea Sharrock, who also directs the new touring production. Simon Callow is to play Dysart opposite Allen’s Strang

Lily Allen included her 21-year-old brother in her recording of the song, “Alfie”, in which she sings: “My little brother’s in his bedroom smoking weed, I tell him he should get up 'cos it’s nearly half past three.” According to today’s Daily Mail, Equus co-producer David Pugh made sure the actor had changed his ways before hiring him for the role: “We arranged an 8am breakfast at the Wolseley restaurant with Peter Shaffer and Alfie to see if he was still a stay-in-bed-all-day kind of boy, but I think he was the first to arrive.”

Allen’s film work includes small roles in Elizabeth (alongside his sister), Atonement and the up-coming Scarlett Johansson-Natalie Portman movie The Other Boleyn Girl.

The touring production of Equus is produced by the Tony and Olivier Award-winning team of David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, whose past hit production have included Art and The Play What I Wrote. They are also producing the UK premiere of The God of Carnage, the new comedy by Art playwright Yasmina Reza, which is due to start performances at the Gielgud Theatre on 7 March 2008 starring Ralph Fiennes (See News, 12 Oct 2007).

In addition to playing the Chichester Festival Theatre, the UK tour of Equus will also play the King's Theatre, Edinburgh (18-23 February 2008) and Theatre Royal Newcastle (24-29 March 2008). Other dates have yet to be confirmed.

- by Roger Foss & Tom Atkins