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Ustinov announces European Black Comedies in Autumn 2014 season

The Ustinov announces its Autumn 2014 season with three black European comedies.

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The Ustinov Studio, Bath has announced its Autumn 2014 season, which will comprise three black comedies from some of the greats in European drama: Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Play Strindberg, Florian Zeller's The Father and Eugène Ionesco's Exit the King.

Ustinov Studio

The season, especially commissioned by the Ustinov Studio, will bring together three directors and translators to present three original and compelling plays from Europe, the first two of which are UK premieres. Greg Hicks will star in Play Strindberg. Further casting for the season will be announced shortly.

Play Strindberg opens the season from Thursday 11th September to Saturday 11th October with translations from Alistair Beaton and direction by Nancy Meckler.

The 25-year marriage of Alice, a resting actress, and Edgar, an old soldier, would be perfect - if they didn't want each other dead. The vicious cat and mouse games they play on the desolate island outpost which is their home, are interrupted by the arrival of Alice's cousin, and former lover, Kurt.

In Dürrenmatt's gleefully spiteful black comedy, written in 1968, he takes the characters and situations from August Strindberg's classic, The Dance of Death, and transposes the brutally funny sparring to a boxing ring.

Hicks is one of the UK's leading classical actors. He has worked extensively for the National Theatre and the RSC, for whom he recently played King Lear. He won the 2003 Critics' Circle Award for his performance as Coriolanus at The Old Vic, and also received an Olivier Best Actor nomination for this role.

Translator Alistair Beaton is regarded as Britain's leading writer of political satire, with credits across theatre, television, radio and publishing. His revised translation of Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo UI recently played at the Duchess Theatre in London's West End. He also wrote the West End hit, Feel Good, which won the Evening Standard Best Comedy Award in 2001.

Director Nancy Meckler was Artistic Director of Shared Experience for 22 years where she directed the award-winning productions of Anna Karenina and War and Peace.

20th century master Friedrich Dürrenmatt is best-known for The Visit, which won the New York Drama Critics Award as the best foreign play in 1958. He also wrote the satirical drama, The Physicists in 1962.


The Father by Florian Zeller in a new translation by Christopher Hampton and directed by James MacDonald plays from Thursday 16th October – Saturday 15th November.

Now 80 years old, Andre was once a tap dancer. He lives with his daughter Anne and her husband Antoine. Or was he an engineer whose daughter Anne lives in London with her new lover, Pierre? The thing is, he is still wearing his pyjamas, and he can't find his watch. He is starting to wonder if he's losing control.

Hailed by The Independent as "one of the hottest literary talents in France", Florian Zeller wrote this intriguing and compelling black comedy in 2012. The Father (Le Père) is the winner of the 2014 Moliere Award for Best Play. Zeller's other plays include: Si Tu Mourais (If You Were To Die), La Mere (The Mother)and La Verite (The Truth).

Christopher Hampton's own work includes: The Philanthropist, Savages, Tales From Hollywood and Les Liaisons Dangereuse. He has translated plays by Ibsen, Molière, Chekhov and Yasmina Reza (including Art andLife x 3). He won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Dangerous Liaisons and was also nominated for this award for his adaption of Ian McEwan's novel Atonement. For television, he has adaptedThe History Man and Hotel du Lac. His recent stage translations include Odon Von Horvath's Youth Without God, Theater in der Josefstadt, Vienna and Judgement Day at the Almeida Theatre.

James Macdonald has worked extensively off Broadway where he was recently the winner of the 2014 Obie Award for Best Director for Love and Information. He was Associate Director of the Royal Court from 1992 to 2007 and his credits include Cock, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You, the European and US tours of Sarah Kane's4.48 Psychosis, Exiles at the National Theatre, and Glengarry Glen Ross in the West End.


Finally Exit The King by Eugène Ionesco in a new translation by Jeremy Sams plays from Thursday 20th November to Saturday 20th December, and is directed by Ustinov artistc director Laurence Boswell.

''The once great King Berenger the First is 400 years old, on his last legs and ruling over a decaying kingdom. Now the party is over and the end is nigh.

In his youth he reigned over millions of subjects, battled thousands of enemies, single-handedly split the atom and invented the car. He even controlled the weather. But now the heater is broken, the cows have stopped producing milk and the sun is late. While his two queens bicker about whether he should be made aware of his imminent demise, it is clear that Berenger won't surrender without a fight. But the fact is, this is the last day of his life and the end of the play could mean the end of everything.''

Eugène Ionesco was one of the greatest innovators in European drama. His works include The Chairs, Rhinoceros and The Bald Soprano and he influenced a generation of playwrights.

Translator Jeremy Sams is an award-winning director, writer, translator, orchestrator, musical director, film composer and lyricist. His many translations include Les Parents Terribles, The Miser and Mary Stuart for the National theatre and The Threepenny Opera for the Donmar Warehouse.