Actor-turned-playwright Antony Sher’s latest play The Giant received its world premiere last night (8 November 2007, previews from 2 November), with a cast led by Roger Allam and John Light as rival Renaissance artists Leonard Da Vinci and Michelangelo (See News, 10 Jul 2007). The production, directed by Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Gregory Doran, continues its limited London season until 1 December.

Set in Florence in 1501, the drama is billed as “an exploration of the dark interplay between sexuality and creativity” that centres on Da Vinci and Michelangelo’s rivalry over the prestigious artistic commission to sculpt the statue of David. The result is one of the most iconic works of the Renaissance – but who was the model?

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Allam and Light are joined in the cast by newcomer Stephen Hagan as the model inspiration, as well as Ricky Champ, Ian Conningham, Nick Court, Barry McCarthy, Mark Meadows, Richard Moore, Stephen Noonan, Simon Trinder and Philip Voss. The production, which carries a warning that it “contains strong language and nudity”, is designed by William Dudley.

For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the curtain call and post-show party at Hampstead Theatre with The Giant company, author Antony Sher, director Gregory Doran, producer Thelma Holt and other first night guests including Simon Callow.

- by Terri Paddock