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Cast: Almeida Rope, RSC Arabian, Royal Court

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Patrick Hamilton’s classic thriller Rope is being revived at the Almeida Theatre later in the year. The production, which is directed by Roger Michell, runs from 16 December 2009 to 6 February 2010 (previews from 10 December), with a cast led by Bertie Carvel, Blake Ritson and Alex Waldmann.

Said to be inspired by the real life murder of a young boy in 1920 by two University of Chicago students, Leopold and Loeb, Hamilton's 1929 thriller is set in a Mayfair apartment. Wyndham Brandon and Charles Granillo have murdered fellow student Ronald Kentley and deposited his body in a chest in their living room. Believing they are above suspicion and common morality they invite the student’s father, his aunt and several of their friends over for tea, served on the chest.

The full cast comprises: Bertie Carvel (Rupert Cadell), Emma Dewhurst (Mrs Debenham), Michael Elwyn (Sir Johnstone Kentley), Henry Lloyd Hughes (Kenneth Raglan), Blake Ritson (Wyndham Brandon), Alex Waldmann (Charles Granillo) and Pheobe Waller-Bridge (Leila Arden).

Alex Waldmann was recently seen in the Donmar West End season playing Laertes in Hamlet and Sebastian in Twelfth Night; Bertie Carvel's theatre credits include The Pride for the Royal Court and Man of Mode, The Life of Galileo and Coram Boy for the National Theatre; and Phoebe Waller-Bridge recently appeared in the critically acclaimed 2nd May 1997 at the Bush Theatre. Roger Michell is an award-winning theatre and film director, with screen credits including Notting Hill and Enduring Love.

Ayesha Dharker (Coronation Street, Anita and Me) will lead an 18-strong cast in the Royal Shakespeare Company's family Christmas show Arabian Nights, which is adapted and directed by Royal Court artistic director (and former RSC associate) Dominic Cooke, and runs in the Courtyard Theatre from 15 December 2009 to 30 January 2010 (previews from 5 December).

Arabian Nights takes place on the wedding night in the palace of King Shahrayar. By morning, the new Queen Shahrazad is to be put to death like a thousand young brides before her. She has one gift that can save her - the gift of storytelling.

The full cast comprises: Paul Bhattacharjee, Silas Carson, Daniel Cerqueira, Ayesha Dharker, Marcus Stephen Rohan Fernando, Kevork Malikyan, Chris Ryman, Amit Shah, Nav Sidhu, Simon Trinder, Rene Zagger, Nathalie Armin, Natalie Dew, Kiran Landa, Adura Onashile, Chetna Pandya and Harvey Virdi.

The Royal Court has announced full casting for the forthcoming premiere of Michael Wynne's The Priory which, as previously announced, features Jessica Hynes (née Stevenson), Rachael Stirling and Alastair Mackenzie (See News, 9 Sep 2009). They will be joined by Nick Blood (Material Girl), Joseph Millson (Every Good Boy Deserves Favour) and Rupert Penry-Jones (Spooks, The 39 Steps).

The play, which opens in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs on 26 November (previews from 19 November), focuses on a group of successful thirty-somethings who retreat to a converted rural priory to celebrate New Year (See News, 18 Aug 2009).

The Court has also announced full casting for Mike Bartlett's Cock, which opens in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs on 18 November 2009 (previews from 13 November).

Joining the previously announced Ben Whishaw and Andrew Scott are Paul Jesson (The Cherry Orchard, The Winter’s Tale) and Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd, The Seagull). The play, directed by James Macdonald, centres on a man who takes a break from his boyfriend, only to meet the girl of his dreams.

In other casting news:

  • Kathryn Hunter will play Juliet opposite Forbes Masson's Romeo in Ben Power's two-hander reworking of Shakespeare's classic, entitled A Tender Thing, which premieres at Northern Stage in Newcastle from 29 October to 7 November 2009. Power, who is literary associate of Headlong Theatre where his work has included Six Characters in Search of an Author and Faustus, reimagines the doomed lovers as two characters in their 70s.
  • Hampstead Theatre's world premiere production of Atiha Sen Gupta's debut play What Fatima Did, which runs from 27 October to 7 November 2009 (previews from 22 October), will feature a cast of newcomers, directed by Kelly Wilkinson. Arsher Ali, Gethin Anthony, Simon Coombs, Farzana Dua Elahe and Bunmi Mojekwu lead the cast in a play that explores the consequences of one girl’s decision to start wearing the hijab in a secondary school.
  • Natalie Abrahami will direct Tobias Beer (Violinist), Hilton McRae (Posdnyshev) and Sophie Scott (Pianist) in Nancy Harris’ new stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s controversial novella, The Kreutzer Sonata, billed as “a play about death, desire and Beethoven”. It runs at the Gate Theatre from 10 November to 5 December 2009 (previews from 5 November).
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