Theatre News

Ronald Harwood’s WWII Double Opens at Duchess

As previously tipped (See The Goss, 12 Nov 2008), Ronald Harwood’s two Second World War plays, 1995’s Taking Sides and Harwood’s new play Collaboration, will transfer this spring to the West End’s Duchess Theatre, where they are scheduled to run in rep from 20 May to 22 August 2009.

The plays were first presented together last July at Chichester Festival’s Minerva Theatre and will return there for a short stint, from 28 April to 16 May, ahead of the London transfer. Though standalone stories, the plays were written as companion pieces, both exploring the fine line between collaboration and betrayal during the Second World War.

Taking Sides and Collaboration are both directed by Chichester associate director Philip Franks and star Michael Pennington (pictured) as, respectively, conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler and composer Richard Strauss, two men wrangling with Nazism.

The cross-cast company reprising their performances also features David Horovitch and Isla Blair, along with Pip Donaghy, Martin Hutson, Melanie Jessop and Sophie Roberts.

Harwood’s best-known play, 1980’s The Dresser, was revived at the Duke of York’s Theatre in 2005, but his last new play in the West End was Mahler’s Conversion, which starred Antony Sher at the Vaudeville in 2001. Last year, his play An English Tragedy, also set during the Second World War, premiered at Watford Palace (See News, 16 Jan 2008).

Currently previewing at the Duchess, Evening Standard critic Nicholas de Jongh’s debut play Plague Over England opens on 23 February and continues until 16 May, starring Michael Feast as John Gielgud and Celia Imrie as Sybil Thorndike, directed by Tamara Harvey.

– by Terri Paddock