Martin Freeman (pictured), star of The Office and the film of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, will return to the stage in the new year to appear opposite Roger Lloyd Pack in Richard Harris’ new comedy The Last Laugh. Prior to an anticipated West End transfer, the production opens at the Theatre Royal Windsor from 30 January to 3 February 2007 and then continues to Cheltenham, Milton Keynes, Richmond and Newcastle.

In The Last Laugh, adapted from an original play by Koki Mitani, Freeman is a beleaguered comedy troupe writer who, obliged by law to submit his latest script for government approval, has to go toe-to-toe with a newly appointed, hard-nosed government censor (Lloyd-Pack). As he diligently attempts to rework his play, incorporating the censor's multitudinous and unconventional edits, the most unlikely partnership starts to flourish and the men become engaged in a “conspiracy of two”, crafting the funniest play they can imagine, whilst the spectre of the outside world threatens to destroy everything.

Martin Freeman was last on stage in October 2005 in Toby Whithouse’s Blue Eyes and Heels at Soho Theatre. His other stage credits include Kosher Harry, Jump Mr Malinoff Jump, The Comedians and The Dispute. His other screen credits include the films Breaking and Entering, Confetti, Love Actually and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Roger Lloyd Pack has just made his pantomime dame debut in Mark Ravenhill’s new version of Dick Whittington and His Cat, the Barbican’s first-ever pantomime. Best known for his TV roles as Trigger in Only Fools and Horses and, more recently, Owen Newitt in The Vicar of Dibley. His stage credits include The Winterling (Royal Court), Wild Honey (National), Blue/Orange and One for the Road. His films include Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

In addition to The Last Laugh, Theatre Royal Windsor provides the launching pad for Laurence Boswell’s revival of Christopher Hampton’s 1976 play Treats, featuring Doctor Who’s Billie Piper in her theatrical debut (See News, 8 Nov 2006). It runs at Windsor from 16 to 27 January 2007 before visiting Malvern, Bath and Richmond and is also tipped for a West End transfer. Both productions are presented by Bill Kenwright Ltd.

- by Terri Paddock