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Demon, Heavenly & Hobson Form Young Vic Spring

By • West End
There's an international flavour to the Young Vic's spring 2003 season, announced at a press conference this afternoon. The schedule moves from Japan to Harlem to 17th-century Spain and modern-day Salford via European premieres of Hideki Noda's Red Demon and Langston Hughes' musical comedy Simply Heavenly, a fresh production of Lope de Vega's Peribanez and a new adaptation of English classic Hobson's Choice.

Japanese writer, director and actor Hideki Noda - who, in his homeland, sits on a par with Yukio Ninagawa - makes his UK debut with Red Demon to open the season from 31 January to 22 February 2003. The physical theatre piece is set in a land far away where a stranger has washed up on shore near an isolated fishing village. Unable to understand him or why he looks so different, the villagers decide he's a demon that must be destroyed.

Red Demon is written and directed by Noda, translated by Roger Pulvers and adapted by Matt Wilkinson and Noda. In the cast, Noda is joined by Marcello Magni, Tamzin Griffin, Samantha McDonald, Clive Mendus, Ofo Uhiara and Matt Wilkinson. The production is designed by Miriam Buether and Vicki Mortimer with lighting by Rick Fisher.

The European premiere of Langston Hughes' musical comedy Simply Heavenly, co-produced with the NT Studio, follows from 7 March to 12 April 2003. Best known as a poet, Hughes was a prolific writer whose output also included 20 plays and several musicals and operas. He was a cornerstone of the "Harlem Renaissance" that helped bring African-American art and literature into the cultural mainstream.

Simply Heavenly first ran on Broadway in 1957, born out of a seies of short stories featuring the bar room philosophies of Jess B Semple, an offbeat Harlem everyman in a rapidly changing America. The Young Vic production is directed by actress Josette Bushell-Mingo and stars two former Donmar divas - Olivier Award winner Clive Rowe and soul sister Ruby Turner - as well as Rhashan Stone (as Jess), Des Coleman, Nicola Hughes, Melanie Marshall, Jason Pennycooke, Cat Simmons and Dale Superville. It's designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Paul Anderson and choreography by Paul J Medford.

Lope de Vega's tragicomedy Peribanez, translated by Tanya Ronder, continues the season from 1 May to 7 June 2003. Though only some 400 have survived, de Vega can lay claim to having written over 2,000 in his lifetime. Peribanez is a hardworking peasant just married to the beautiful Casilda, who has also stirred the affections of the noble lord intent on possessing her. The production is directed by Young Vic associate Rufus Norris, designed by this year's Evening Standard award-winner Ian MacNeil and lit by Rick Fisher with sound by Paul Arditti.

The Young Vic's spring concludes with Harold Brighouse's classic English comedy, Hobson's Choice, given an all-new updating by contemporary writer Tanika Gupta whose other recent plays include Sanctuary and Inside Out. In this new version, the story has been transposed to today's Asian community in Salford, where widower Hari Hobson is a successful tailor with three daughters. The production is directed by Richard Jones and designed by Ultz with lighting by Rick Fisher and sound by Paul Arditti. It runs from 26 June to 9 August 2003.

- by Terri Paddock


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