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Cast: Barber Joins Madame, Atwell in Bridge, Be Near

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Full casting has been announced for Michael Grandage\'s forthcoming production of Madame de Sade, the third instalment in the Donmar West End season at Wyndham\'s theatre, which runs from 18 March (previews from 13 March) to 23 May 2009. Joining previously announced principals Judi Dench and Rosamund Pike (See News, 20 August 2008) are Frances Barber (pictured), Fiona Button, Deborah Findlay and Jenny Galloway.

Yukio Mishima’s little-known 1965 Japanese drama, translated by Donald Keene, centres on five women affected by the debauchery of the Marquis de Sade. In the six-strong cast, Pike takes the title role of the Marquis’ wife Renee, while Dench plays Madame de Montreuil, the Marquis’ mother-in-law.

New cast member Frances Barber, who plays Comtesse de Saint-Fond, has previously appeared at the Donmar in Insignificance, while her other myriad stage credits include King Lear & The Seagull (RSC), Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare’s Globe) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Edinburgh Festival & Gielgud Theatre).

Deborah Findlay returns to the Donmar to play Baronesse de Simiane, having appeared in previous Grandage productions The Vortex, The Cut and John Gabriel Borkman. She also has a strong association with the National, with credits including The House of Bernarda Alba, The Mandate, Mother Clap’s Molly House, The Winter’s Tale and Stanley (for which she won an Olivier Award).

The company is completed by Fiona Button (Anne), and Jenny Galloway (Charlotte). Button was last seen in the West End in Tom Stoppard\'s Rock \'n\' Roll, with other recent theatre work including Hay Fever (Manchester Royal Exchange) and Ring Round the Moon (Playhouse). Galloway returns to the Donmar having previously appeared in Nine, How I Learned to Drive and Electra. Her other theatre credits include Music Man (Chichester Festival Theatre), Henry V (Manchester Royal Exchange) and Showboat at the Royal Albert Hall.

In other Donmar casting news, the company has been announced for Ian McDiarmid\'s new play Be Near Me, which premieres at the Palace Theatre, Kilmarnock from 14 to 17 January, before transferring to the Donmar from 26 January to 14 March 2009 (previews from 22 January) prior to an eight-week national tour. McDiarmid himself will lead a cast that also features Donmar newcomers Jimmy Chisholm, Blythe Duff, Kathryn Howden, David McGranaghan, Richard Madden, Helen Mallon, Colette O’Neil, Benny Young and Jimmy Yuill.

Be Near Me, adapted from Andrew O’Hagan\'s 2006 novel, tells of David Anderton (McDiarmid), an Oxford-educated Catholic priest who is assigned to a parish in a dispirited Scottish town on the Ayrshire coast. Lonely and adrift he befriends two unstable teenagers from the local school and is drawn into their exotic world.

A co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland, and directed by NTS associate John Tiffany, the cast features several members with recent NTS credits, including Blythe Duff (Home, Glasgow), Helen Mallon (365, Wolves in the Wall, Tutti Frutti), Colette O\'Neil (Home: Glasgow) and Benny Young (Six Characters in Search of an Author).

Be Near Me is designed by Peter McKintosh, with lighting by Guy Hoare, sound by Gareth Fry and musical direction by Davey Anderson.

Currently at the Donmar, the TS Eliot festival continues with Eileen Atkins and Edward Fox returning on 5 January for a second evening of poetry reading, having been joined on 1 December by Harold Pinter, Charles Dance and Josephine Hart. Atkins and Fox will be joined on the 5 January by Dominic West, who was involved in the Douglas Hodge-directed staged reading of Murder in the Cathedral on 2 December.

A second staged reading, of The Cocktail Party, will take place on 17 December 2008 starring Paul Rhys and directed by Jamie Lloyd. The festival culminates from 14 to 17 January 2009 with a reading of Four Quartets by Stephen Dillane, directed by Katie Mitchell.

In other play casting news:

  • Hayley Atwell will join the cast of the major new revival of Arthur Miller’s 20th-century classic A View from the Bridge, which opens at the West End’s Duke of York’s theatre on 5 February 2009 (previews from 24 January). Atwell, who earlier this year was seen in the National\'s Major Barbara and has starred in films including Brideshead Revisited and The Duchess, plays Catherine opposite previously announced principals Ken Stott and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (See News).
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