Chiwetel Ejiofor (pictured) will return to the stage to star alongside Kristin Scott Thomas and Mackenzie Crook in the Royal Court staging of Chekhov’s The Seagull, in a new version by Christopher Hampton (See News, 31 Jul 2006). The final offering in the theatre’s year-long 50th anniversary season and the swansong production from outgoing artistic director Ian Rickson, it runs in the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from 18 January to 17 March 2007.

Since winning the Evening Standard Best Newcomer award in 2000 for the premiere of Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange, Ejiofor has had major successes on film in the likes of Dirty Pretty Things, Love Actually, Four Brother, Kinky Boots, Children of Men, Inside Man and the upcoming American Gangster with Denzel Washington. Ejiofor was last on the London stage in 2002/3 in Noel Coward’s The Vortex at the Donmar Warehouse.

In The Seagull, Ejiofor will play Trigorin, the literary lover of Scott Thomas’ ageing actress Madame Arkadina. Crook is Konstantin in a cast that also features Carey Mulligan (as Nina), Katherine Parksinson (Masha), Peter Wight (Sorin), Pearce Quigley (Medviedenko), Paul Jesson (Shamraeff), Patrick Nolan (Jacob), Denise Black (Paulina) and Art Malik (Dorn).

The Royal Court’s production of The Seagull will be the second of three stagings of Chekhov’s 1896 classic from the UK’s leading theatrical institutions. Katie Mitchell’s production, featuring Juliet Stevenson and Ben Whishaw, recently finished its run at the National; in March 2007, Ian McKellen will star in a Royal Shakespeare Company production directed by Trevor Nunn in Stratford-upon-Avon (See News, 23 May 2006). Rickson’s production is designed by Hildegard Bechtler.

In other casting news:

  • At Hampstead Theatre, Sian Thomas (a 2003 Theatregoers’ Choice Award winner for The Price and Up for Grabs), Emma Cunniffe (Losing Louis), Daniel Weyman (Calico, Chichester’s Nicholas Nickleby) and Toby Salaman (Doctor’s Dilemma) are the cast for the world premiere of The Glass Room, the new play by What We Did to Weinstein’s Ryan Craig. In a police safe house in a leafy London suburb, young Jewish human rights lawyer Myles is charmed by the notorious historian he has been hired to defend. Directed by artistic director Anthony Clark, it runs from 28 November to 23 December 2006 (previews from 23 November).

  • At the Donmar Warehouse, the full cast has been announced for the world premiere of Don Juan in Soho, Patrick Marber’s 21st-century take on Molière’s 1665 classic. Joining Rhys Ifans, taking the title role, are veteran actor David Ryall (Everything Is Illuminated, Democracy, King Lear as well as: Jessica Brooks, Chris Corrigan, Seroca Davis, Tim Eagle, Richard Flood, Laura Pyper, Abdul Salis and Stephen Wight. Directed by Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage, it runs from 6 December 2006 to 10 February 2007 (previews from 30 November).

    - by Terri Paddock