The Donmar Warehouse’s upcoming revival of TS Eliot’s rarely seen 1939 verse drama The Family Reunion will live up to its name next month: amongst the full company, now announced, are mother and daughter actors Anna Carteret and Hattie Morahan.

They join, as previously announced (See News, 18 Jul 2008), Penelope Wilton and Samuel West in Donmar associate director Jeremy Herrin’s revival. The centrepiece of the Donmar’s festival celebrating the work of the 20th-century playwright, poet and literary critic, the new production runs at the Donmar’s Covent Garden home from 25 November 2008 (previews from 20 November) to 10 January 2009.

Also in the stellar ensemble cast are: Gemma Jones (pictured), Christopher Benjamin, Phil Cole, William Gaunt, Una Stubbs and Paul Shelley as well as Kevin McMonagle and Ann Marcuson.

After eight years absence, Harry (West) returns to the ancestral home to celebrate his mother\'s birthday. Tormented by a dark secret, he confides in Aunt Agatha (Wilton) only to discover that the family too have its own hidden demons.

T S Eliot (1888-1965) was a poet, playwright and literary critic. An American, he moved to the UK in 1914, and became a British citizen in 1927. His other plays include Sweeney Agonistes (1926), Murder in the Cathedral (1935), The Cocktail Party (1949) and The Elder Statesman (1958), but he remains best known for his poems including The Waste Land, The Love Song of Alfred J Prufock, Ash Wednesday and his magnum opus Four Quartets. His collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats provided the inspiration for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats. Eliot was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948.

In addition to the full-scale revival, the T S Eliot Festival will also include several readings, all performed on The Family Reunion set. They are: Four Quartets, performed by Stephen Dillane and directed by Katie Mitchell (14-17 January); Murder in the Cathedral, directed by Douglas Hodge (2 December); The Cocktail Party, directed by Jamie Lloyd (17 December); and an evening of Eliot verse, including The Waste Land, produced and directed by novelist Josephine Hart (1 December, 5 January).


In other play casting news:

  • From tonight (13 October 2008), Katie Kerr joins the cast of Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig at the Comedy Theatre, taking over from Ella Smith in the title role, at the same time as model-actress Kelly Brook makes her West End debut succeeding Joanna Page as Jeannie (See News, 3 Sep 2008). The women join Nicholas Burns and Kevin Bishop in the four-hander, directed by the author.

  • Appearing alongside Keith Allen in the new stage adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (See News, 5 Sep 2008), at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 17 November 2008 (previews from 7 November) to 28 February 2009, will be: Michael Legge (as Jim Hawkins), Tony Bell (Bones/Captain Smollett), Paul Brennen (Ben Gunn/Black Dogg), John Lightbody (Blind Pew/Trelawney), and Dermot Kerrigan (Flint/Dr Livesy) as well as James Atherton, Mark Bagnall, Matt Costain, Estella Daniels, Branwell Donaghey, Howard Gossington, James Lailey, Mark Theodore and Sharlene Whyte. Sean Holmes directs.

  • Con O\'Neill (just seen in the West End in The Female of the Species and Amanda Drew star in the premiere of Leo Butler’s Faces in the Crowd, which runs at the Royal Court from 21 October to 8 November 2008 (previews from 17 October). They play an estranged couple with a baby debt ten years after their divorce (See News, 12 Jun 2008). The production is directed by Clare Lizzimore in a reconfigured Jerwood Theatre Upstairs.

    - by Terri Paddock