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Cast: Garai Three, Treadaway Ghosts, Walters Off

Romola Garai will return to the stage to star in Filter’s new production of Chekhov classic Three Sisters, which runs at west London’s Lyric Hammersmith from 25 January to 20 February 2010 (previews from 15 January), directed by artistic director Sean Holmes as part of his inaugural season (See News, 3 Jun 2009).

The production reunites Filter and Holmes, who have previously worked together on acclaimed reinventions of Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle and Twelfth Night. The latter, a co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company, returns for a third London season at the Tricycle Theatre in May (See Today’s Other News).

While Holmes has promised that this new collaboration will be more faithful to Chekhov’s original play (in a version by Christopher Hampton), with less “chopping and changing” of the order, the classic 1901 drama – centring on siblings Masha, Olga and Irina who are stuck in a Russian army outpost, dreaming about freedom, romance and Moscow – will be staged in an empty theatre in order to “try to strip back Chekhov”.

Founded in 2001 by actors Ferdy Roberts (who will play Andrei), Oliver Dimsdale and musician Tim Phillips, Filter’s trademark is live integrated sound. In their minimally designed shows, they create an on-stage fusion of live and recorded music.

Garai, who plays Masha, is best known for her screen credits including Emma, Glorious 39 and Atonement, while her stage credits include Calico and Trevor Nunn’s Ian McKellen-led RSC productions of King Lear and The Tempest.

In Three Sisters, she’s joined by Clare Dunne and Poppy Miller as Irina and Olga, as well as Paul Brennen, Jonathan Broadbent, Jim Bywater, Nigel Cooke, David Judge, John Lightbody, Gemma Saunders, Mark Theodore, Sandra Voe and Paul Woodson.

In other play casting news:

  • Ashley Walters stars as recently out of jail charmer David in Bola Agbaje’s latest play Off the Endz, which premieres at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs on 16 February 2010 (previews from 11 February), continuing to 13 March (See News, 21 Oct 2009). Formerly a rapper with So Solid Crew, Walters was briefly jailed for handgun possession during his time with the band. His stage credits include Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, In the Red and Brown Water and, at the Court, Oxford Street.

    Twenty-somethings David, Kojo and Sharon, who all grew up on a London estate, are eyeing another kind of life, but are struggling to choose the right path, with financial debts mounting and temptations all around. In Off the Endz, which is directed by Jeremy Herrin, Walters is joined by Daniel Francis as Kojo and Lorraine Burroughs (The Mountaintop) as Kojo’s girlfriend.
  • At the West End’s Duchess Theatre, running from 23 February to 15 May 2010 (previews from 8 February), Lesley Sharp and Iain Glen will be joined in Ibsen’s 1881 classic Ghosts by Harry Treadaway (Over There on stage) and Malcolm Storry (just seen in Life Is a Dream at the Donmar) as Oswald and Engstrand. The production is helmed by Glen, marking the actor’s directorial debut (See News, 4 Sep 2009).

    Set in the Norwegian fjordland, the drama takes place in Mrs Alving’s (Sharp) country house, where she is preparing for the opening of an orphanage, a memorial to her late husband. Mrs Alving’s son Oswald, an artist, returns home for the celebrations. A story of love, betrayal and hypocrisy gradually unfolds as ghosts from the past come back to haunt the family.
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