The life of the National's Lyttelton Loft space extends with the opening tonight (18 November 2002) of Moira Buffini's new play Dinner, starring Harriet Walter. The 100-seat Loft was specially created as part of the NT's five-month Transformation season of new works aimed at developing younger theatre makers and goers.

Though the season ended in September and the main Lyttelton auditorium, also reconfigured for Transformation, has been long returned to its original form (hosting the Glenn Close-led revival of A Streetcar Named Desire), the Loft was granted an extension because, says a spokesperson, "this great play came along and we wanted to put the space to good use".

Dinner continues until 14 December 2002 and will be followed by the children's Christmas showing of Robin Hood, running from 18 December 2002 to 4 January 2003. After that, the Loft will be dismantled and the space returned to a portion of the Lyttelton foyer. The spokesperson told Whatsonstage.com that, as per the NT's original plans, the kit would be kept for possible re-use should Nicholas Hytner, who takes over as artistic director in April, decide to resurrect it in future.

In Dinner, Buffini's first play for the National, an artist, a scientist and a sexpot are all invited. Paige, hostess extraordinaire, is celebrating the publication of her husband's bestseller. The arrival of Mike, marooned in the foggy lane having crashed his van, provides an un-expected addition to the evening's entertainment. A silent waiter, sourced from an obscure website, completes the picture. Primordial Soup is first on the menu...

The cast includes Harriet Walter (whose recent West End credits include Much Ado About Nothing, The Royal Family and the National's Life x 3), Penny Downie (Sleep with Me, An Enemy of the People, The Prisoner's Dilemma, Death and the Maiden), Catherine McCormack (All My Sons, A Lie of the Mind, Anna Weiss and, as part of Transformation, Free), Nicholas Farrell (The Lady in the Van), Adrian Rawlins and Christopher Etteridge.

Dinner is directed by Fiona Buffini and designed by Rachel Blues, with lighting by Pete Bull and sound by Rich Walsh.

- by Terri Paddock