Brenda Blethyn (pictured), who on Sunday won the TMA Award for Best Performance in a Play (See News, 26 Oct 2008), will return in the new year to the Manchester Royal Exchange, where she originated her award-winning performance in Tennessee Williams 1945 classic The Glass Menagerie.

This time Blethyn will star in the world premiere of Edna O\'Brien’s Haunted, which runs from 13 May to 13 June 2009. The production reunites Blethyn with Royal Exchange artistic director Braham Murray, who directed her in The Glass Menagerie.

Billed as a “memory play about love and betrayal”, Haunted - not to be confused with the panned, London-set thriller of the same name seen earlier this year in the West End (See News, 18 Apr 2008) – tells the story of Mr Berry, his wife and his passion for a young lover. O’Brien is best known as a novelist and short story writer whose books include The Country Girls Trilogy, A Pagan Place and 2006’s The Light of Evening. Her 1981 play about Virginia Woolf, Virginia, was mounted in the West End starring Maggie Smith.

A regular at the National and the RSC in the 1970s, Blethyn moved into screen work in the 1980s, becoming best known for films such as A River Runs Through It, Night Train, Little Voice, Saving Grace and, most notably, Mike Leigh\'s Secrets and Lies, for which she won a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination. Her more recent stage credits include Benefactors, Habeas Corpus and Mrs Warren’s Profession in the West End, and Absent Friends on Broadway.

After a critically acclaimed run at the Royal Exchange in April, Blethyn embarked on a UK regional tour of The Glass Menagerie this past September.

Other highlights in the Royal Exchange’s spring-summer 2009 season include new productions of Macbeth and George Bernard Shaw’s Widowers’ Houses and, as part of the Manchester International Festival, a return of Mikhail Rudy’s stage version of Roman Polanski’s 2002 Oscar-winning film The Pianist and the premiere of Everybody Loves a Winner, a new devised piece set in a bingo hall. The last two are both directed by former Lyric Hammersmith artistic director Neil Bartlett.

For more information on the Royal Exchange’s new season, visit Whatsonstage.com Manchester.

- by Terri Paddock