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Cast: Britton Leads RSC Sade, Full Hampstead Duchess

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Jasper Britton will return to the Royal Shakespeare Company later this year to play the Marquis de Sade in a new version of Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade.

The production, directed by Anthony Neilson, runs from 20 October to 5 November 2011 (previews from 15 October) in the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre as part of the RSC’s 50th birthday celebrations.

According to press material: “The RSC’s 1964 production of Peter Weiss’ play, directed by Peter Brook, still remains one of the company’s most important and acclaimed productions.” The new version, adapted by Adrian Mitchell from Geoffrey Skelton’s translation, “seeks to present an unflinching and very human commentary on society and revolution.”

Peter Weiss wrote Marat/Sade in 1963 and the original German version premiered in West Berlin the following year. A seminal example of the Theatre of Cruelty, it’s set in post-revolutionary France where the inmates of an asylum present a play about the murder of Jean-Paul Marat under the direction of the notorious Marquis de Sade.

Jasper Britton, who plays the central role, last appeared at the RSC as Petruchio in Gregory Doran’s productions of The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed (2003/4). Other recent theatre credits include The Last Cigarette (West End), Oedipus (NT) and Private Lives (Hampstead).

He’s joined in the cast by recent RSC ensemble members Arsher Ali and Golda Rosheuvel, alongside Imogen Doel as Charlotte Corday, the role originally played by Glenda Jackson in 1964.

The cast also includes: Maya Barcot, Liz Crowther, Kammy Darweish, Nicholas Day, Christopher Ettridge, Lisa Hammond, Lanre Malaolu, Nathaniel Martello-White, Andrew Melville, Simeon Moore, Harry Myers, Theo Ogundipe, Oliver Rix and Amanda Wilkin.

Director Anthony Neilson said: “I look forward to working with this ensemble of actors on the forthcoming revival of Marat/Sade; a production which will, I hope, cast a fresh and contemporary light on Peter Weiss' seminal play, and restore to it at least some of the forceful impact of Peter Brook’s and Adrian Mitchell's legendary RSC production.”

In other casting news, the full company has been announced Richard Eyre’s production of Nicholas Wright’s The Last of the Duchess, which premieres at Hampstead Theatre from 26 October to 26 November 2011 (previews from 20 October).

Joining the previously announced Anna Chancellor, Sheila Hancock and Angela Thorne will be: Conrad Asquith, Helen Bradbury, Jasmina Daniel and John Heffernan.

The Last of the Duchess is based on Caroline Blackwood’s 1995 book about the last days of Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee who became the Duchess of Windsor after marrying and necessitating the abdication of Edward VIII.

Blackwood was originally commissioned to write an article about the Duchess, who died in 1986, for the Sunday Times in 1980. The book focuses on her attempts to organise interviews, while being obstructed by the Duchess’ lawyer Maitre Suzanne Blum, who Blackwood accused of essentially imprisoning the royal in her villa in Paris’ Bois de Boulogne.


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