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Cast: Arterton at Almeida, New in Nichols Lingua

As we previously Tweeted, Gemma Arterton will star as Hilda Wangel opposite Stephen Dillane as Harvard Solness in Ibsen’s The Master Builder, running at the Almeida Theatre from 18 November 2010 to 8 January 2011 (previews from 12 November).

One of Henrik Ibsen's later works, the 1892 classic tells the story of Halvard Solness, a renowned but aging builder, whose obsession with building tall spires for his new house is matched by his fear of younger rivals. When a vivacious young woman arrives to collect on a decade-old promise, she inspires him to build castles in the air, with tragic consequences.

Arterton is best known for her screen credits including playing <i>Tess of the D'Urbervilles</I> and being 007’s sexy sidekick in Quantum of Solace. Her other screen credits include The Boat That Rocked, Three & Out, Rock ‘n’ Rolla, St Trinian’s and the forthcoming Tamara Drew. The actress made her professional stage debut as Rosaline in the Globe’s 2007 production of Love’s Labour’s Lost and her West End debut earlier this year in The Little Dog Laughed.

The Master Builder, in a translation by Kenneth McLeish, reunites Dillane with Travis Preston, the artistic director for the Center for New Performance at the California Institute of the Arts, who directed him in his one-man Macbeth which ran at the Almeida in 2005. Dillane is currently starring in Sam Mendes’ Bridge Project productions of The Tempest and As You Like It, which arrive at the Old Vic next month.

In other play casting news, the Finborough Theatre, a fringe 50-seater in Earl’s Court, west London, has attracted a Rolls Royce cast for the premiere of Lingua Franca, Peter Nichols’ first new play in ten years: Chris New, Charlotte Randle, Abigail McKern, Ian Gelder, Enzo Cilenti, Rula Lenska and Natalie Walter.

Lingua Franca follows innocent abroad, Steven Flowers (New), as he travels from National Service in South-East Asia to 1950’s Florence. He soon finds himself working for a chaotically-run language school, together with a cosmopolitan muddle of seven foreign misfits killing their post-war nihilism in the cafés of Florence, the cradle of Renaissance high culture.

Based around a leading character in Nichols’ Privates on Parade, and inspired by his own experiences, the play was first staged at RADA in a 2009, produced by Michael Gieleta, who now helms this professional premiere at the Finborough for Cherub Theatre Company.

Nichols’ other plays include A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Passion Play, Forget Me Not Lane and The National Health. Lingua Franca runs at the Finborough from 16 July to 7 August 2010 (previews from 13 July) as part of the theatre’s 30th anniversary season.


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