Henry Goodman will star as French impressionist master painter Edward Degas in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s new play The Line, which has its world premiere next month at the fringe Arcola Theatre, running from 23 November to 12 December 2009 (previews from 23 November).

The play tells one of the “great untold stories of modern art” in 15 sketches. A brash young single mother Suzanne Valadon forces her way into the presence of Degas, a wealthy but exceedingly shy bachelor. The relationship between master and pupil, who argue over the future of art, is watched by Degas’ housekeeper, Zoe Cloziers.

A two-time Olivier Award winner, for The Merchant of Venice and Assassins, Henry Goodman’s most recent stage credits include Fiddler on the Roof, The Exonerated, The Birthday Party, The Hypochondriac and, earlier this year at the Almeida and subsequently in the West End, Duet for One opposite Juliet Stevenson. The last was directed by Matthew Lloyd, who has reunited with Goodman on The Line.

Goodman is joined in The Line cast by Sarah Smart (from TV’s Casualty 1909) as Suzanne Valadon and Selina Cadell (most recently seen on stage in Sam Mendes’ Bridge Project productions of The Cherry Orchard and A Winter’s Tale) as Zoe Closiers.

The production is designed by seven-time Olivier Award-winning designer William Dudley and co-produced by the Arcola and prolific West End producer Karl Sydow. Timberlake Wertenbaker’s other plays include Our Country’s Good, Three Birds Alighting on a Field, The Break of Day, Credible Witness, Breaking Through and Jenufa, her last new play, which premiered at the Arcola, produced by Sydow, in 2007.