Lost’s Matthew Fox and Olivia Williams today got their first chance to tread the boards at the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre, where they’ll star next March in the world premiere of Neil LaBute’s In a Forest, Dark and Deep. The actors and the writer/director were on hand for a press briefing this afternoon to launch the new two-hander, which will run from 14 March 2011 (previews from 3 March) for 12 weeks (See Today’s Other News).

The production marks a rare stage appearance, as well as the UK debut, for Fox and the West End debut for Williams, who has previously led productions at the National, Barbican, Donmar Warehouse and Royal Shakespeare Company but never in the commercial sector.

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Speaking today, Fox said he was looking forward to getting on stage after some “275 hours of television” in two back-to-back, six-year series in the US, Lost and Party of Five, and to working in the West End, a long-held “dream”. “I’ve always hoped that at some point in my career, however long I stay in this business, that this kind of opportunity would come along,” he told journalists.

But, ultimately, it was LaBute’s “fantastic material” that “hooked” him to the project. He and Williams play siblings meeting up in a cabin in the woods one dark and stormy night. According to actress, “A brother and sister is such a rich place to start for not just 90 minutes but a lifetime of antagonism”. The piece, she said, is shot through with LaBute’s “twisted humour” and is “taut and painful and funny. It jumps off the page. If we can possibly do the text justice, you’re not going to be bored.”

When asked about his reputation for grimness, LaBute laughed and admitted that his mother has also questioned why he couldn’t write comedies. “I tell my mother, these are the comedies, wait for the tragedies.” He continued: “Light is fabulous, but there’s a lot of light out there... While I’m not looking just for dark, darkness does seem to attach itself to many things I do.”

He praised his two stars today, and said he looked forward to bringing the play to fruition with them, as the director as well as the writer of the premiere. “One of the great joys of directing is finally having a reason to leave the house,” he commented.