The Almeida Theatre has announced its season for spring 2022, which includes The House of Shades starring Anne-Marie Duff, a new version of Ionesco's tragic farce The Chairs and a collection of new plays celebrating key workers. There are also new dates for the UK premiere of "Daddy" by Jeremy O. Harris, which was postponed at the start of the pandemic.
Opening the season from 5 February to 5 March is The Chairs, translated, adapted and directed by Omar Elerian (Misty). The cast features what artistic director Rupert Goold described as "three legendary physical theatre performers" in Kathryn Hunter, Marcello Magni and Toby Sedgwick.
According to press material, "this exhilarating new version of Eugène Ionesco's tragic farce reflects on a life lived together: on what has been, what might have been, and what it all really means."
The creative team also features designer Cécile Trémolières and lighting designer Jackie Shemesh.
It's followed by "Daddy" A Melodrama, which now runs from 26 March to 30 April. It's billed as a "Bel Air tale of love and family" where "intimacy is a commodity and the surreal gets real."
Directed by Danya Taymor the creative team also includes: set designer Matt Saunders; costume designer Montana Levi Blanco; lighting designer Isabella Byrd; sound designer Lee Kinney; movement director Anjali Mehra; musical director Tim Sutton; intimacy and fight director Yarit Dor; and casting director Amy Ball. Casting is still to be announced.
Next up is the premiere of The House of Shades (7 May to 18 June), which spans five decades of the lives, and deaths, of the working class Webster family. The cast includes Beatie Edney, Natalie Gavin, Carol Macready, Anne Marie-Duff, Mark Meadows, Daniel Millar, Issie Riley, with further names to be confirmed.
Writer Beth Steel won the Most Promising Playwright award at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards in 2014. Her play Wonderland was also shortlisted for The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.
Directed by Blanche McIntyre, the creative team also includes set designer Anna Fleischle, costume designer Liam Bunster, lighting designer Richard Howell, sound designer Gregory Clarke and casting director Annelie Powell.
Artistic director Rupert Goold commented: "When we shut the theatre in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, the set for Jeremy O. Harris' "Daddy" was already installed waiting for tech to commence. For six months, it gathered dust like a ghostly relic. Now, close to two years later, we're very pleased to confirm the return of both "Daddy" and Beth Steel's The House of Shades which we also had to postpone last year."
Sandwiched between them in the main house, from 9 to 12 March, is The Key Workers Cycle, a series of nine plays by Francesca Beard, Sonali Bhattacharyya, Josh Elliott, Annie Jenkins, Eno Mfon, Nessah Muthy, Danusia Samal, Yomi Ṣode, and Molly Taylor. Performed by a company of professional actors, local community participants and key workers themselves, the cycle will "allow us to celebrate our incredible neighbours and local residents," said Goold.