This Life's Daniela Nardini will star in a new version of Alexander Dumas (fils)' Camille, adapted by Lyric Hammersmith artistic director Neil Bartlett and directed by opera's David McVicar. The production will open at the Lyric in west London on 11 March 2003 (previews from 6 March) before continuing until 12 April and then touring to six further venues until 24 May 2003.

Considered one of literature's great love stories, Dumas' Camille has been retold numerous times on stage and screen, perhaps most family in George Cukor's 1937 film starring Greta Garbo. Dumas (fils) - the illegitimate son of the French author of the same name who wrote The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo - wrote the novel The Lady of the Camellias in 1848 and four years later himself wrote the play Camille which inspired Verdi's opera La Traviata in 1853. Bartlett's new adaptation goes back to the original novel to reveal a portrait of a woman who can afford anything - except to fall in love.

Set against a backdrop of the glittering salons and boudoirs of 19th-century Paris, the story traces the last six months in the life of Marguerite Gautier (Camille), the best-dressed, most expensive and successful prostitute in town. When handsome young client Armand Duval first catches sight of her across a crowded theatre, he's plunged into an erotic obsession, which Marguerite reciprocates in a scandalously passionate affair. But the strength of their feeling tears both their lives apart.

Nardini, who makes a rare stage appearance to star as Marguerite Gautier, is best known for her role as Anna in the cult BBC TV series This Life. Her other screen credits include Rough Treatment, Undercover Heart, Big Women, Reckless, Flying Blind and Tube Tales. On stage, she has previously worked with McVicar on the 1994 production of Liz Lochead's Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh.

McVicar has since built his international renown for controversial productions at major opera houses around the world, most recently, Rigoletto at ROH Covent Garden, Carmen at Glyndebourne and Tosca for English National Opera at the Coliseum. Camille is designed by Nicky Gillibrand with lighting by Paule Constable.

Following London, Camille will visit Theatre Royal Bath (15 - 19 April), Theatre Royal Newcastle (22 - 26 April), Theatre Royal Glasgow (29 April - 3 May), Malvern Theatres (6 - 10 May), Blackpool Grand Theatre (13 - 17 May) and Oxford Playhouse (20 - 24 May).

- by Terri Paddock