Will it be third time lucky for Ralph Fiennes and the cast of Christopher Hampton's The Talking Cure? The play was due to receive its world premiere last Thursday, 12 December 2002 at the National's Cottesloe Theatre, but plans have been thrown into a tailspin with the loss of first one and then a second actor cast to play Sigmund Freud opposite Fiennes' Carl Jung (See Yesterday's News).

Now actor John Carlisle (pictured) appears to have come to the rescue. Having just three weeks ago completed a run of Tom Stoppard's epic Coast of Utopia trilogy, Carlisle will return to the National for The Talking Cure. Though his first public performance has not yet been determined, his casting has just been confirmed and he starts intensive rehearsals today.

Trouble started on the highly anticipated production last Tuesday when the original Freud James Hazeldine, experiencing chest pains, was hospitalised and forced to withdraw. Scotsman Bill Paterson was quickly signed up to replace him, but by Friday evening, he'd reconsidered and felt he was no longer able to meet the demands of the production along with other commitments.

The press night and Saturday matinee performances of The Talking Cure were cancelled. At other performances, a fellow cast member, the younger actor Dominic Rowan who also plays Otto Gross in The Talking Cure, has been reading the part of Freud from the script and will continue to do so until Carlisle is ready to take over. A new press night has not yet been scheduled, but will prove logistically difficult as the majority of the run to 5 February 2003 has long sold out on the strength of Fiennes' name.

In addition to The Coast of Utopia, Carlisle's other stage credits include A Doll's House (West End and Broadway), The Invention of Love (National/West End), Semi-Monde (West End) and Ninagawa's production of King Lear for the RSC. He's recently been seen on screen in Granada's remake of The Forsyte Saga.

The Talking Cure deals with the early years of Jung and his decision to experiment, using Freud's controversial new method of psycho-analysis, with a young Russian patient, Sabine Spielrein. The success of the experiment and the blossoming of his relationship with Sabine inaugurates, haunts and ultimately poisons Jung's relationship with Freud.

The production is directed by Howard Davies and designed by Tim Hatley, with costumes by Jenny Beaven, lighting by Peter Mumford, music by Dominic Muldowney and sound by Christopher Shutt. The cast also includes Jodhi May, Nancy Carroll and Valerie Spelman.

- by Terri Paddock