Lies Have Been Told - an evening with Robert Maxwell opened at the Hampstead venue from Thursday October 27 2005 (previews from 25 October) for a run to Saturday December 3 2005, and after a short break will reopen at Trafalgar Studio 2 on 11 January 2006 (preview 10 January) for a limited season to 28 January. The piece is produced by award-winning American documentary filmmaker Dale Djerassi and aims to explore the man behind the headlines in an in-depth account of his life.
The play replaces Kahlil Ashanti's solo performance of Basic Training, his autobiographical show about his time in a US Air Force entertainment troupe, which has now withdrawn from the venue.
The title role in Lies Have Been Told - an evening with Robert Maxwell is played by Philip York (pictured), whose previous credits include Telstar and seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the National Theatre as well as repertory theatres.
On November 5th 1991, Robert Maxwell disappeared overboard from his yacht in the Canary Islands. His body was later found floating in the ocean. The official verdict was accidental drowning, but others suggested he had committed suicide or been murdered by secret agents or Russian mafia hit men. Was Robert Maxwell a monster or the victim of racism and snobbery?
Maxwell was born Jan Ludwik Hoch in Czechoslovakia and grew up in a tight-knit Jewish community. After fleeing the Nazis in 1939, Maxwell fought with the British and earned a medal for bravery. In 1951 he purchased Pergamon Press. The company's success helped him win election to Parliament in 1964 as a Labour MP but a financial scandal in 1969 cost him control of Pergamon and his political career. He went heavily into debt in order to repurchase the company and borrowed additional funds to create a media empire that came to include the Mirror Newspaper Group, the US book publishing company Macmillan and the New York Daily News.
Dale Djerassi has produced and directed a number of documentary films including the award-winning Oil on Ice, Nada Será Como Antes and Bhutan - A Strange Survival. He was once married to Robert Maxwell's daughter, Isabel.
Lies Have Been Told - an evening with Robert Maxwell is written by Rod Beacham, who is best known for his TV scripts including The Bill, Bergerac and Doctor Who, and directed by Alan Dossor, former artistic director of Liverpool Everyman Theatre. The show is designed by Michael Taylor and produced by Andy Jordan Productions and the Dale Djerassi Production Company.
- by Caroline Ansdell