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Cast: Johnston’s Change, Cumberbatch at Court

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Margaret Tyzack, Sue Johnston and Lindsey Coulson have joined Penelope Wilton in a formidable foursome of actresses who will star in plays at the Donmar Warehouse this spring/summer (See News, 31 Oct 2007).

Johnston and Coulson play the mothers of two boyhood friends – played by Luke Evans (Rent, Taboo) and Matt Ryan (Lovely and Misfit, Sejanus) – in 1950s Cardiff in Peter Gill’s revival of his own 1976 play Small Change, which runs from 15 April (previews from 10 April) to 31 May 2008.

Both actresses are best known for their television credits which include: for Johnston, The Royle Family, Jam and Jerusalem and Waking the Dead; and for Coulson, Eastenders, Clocking Off, MIT and Manchild. Johnston’s theatre credits include The Master Builder in the West End and The Mysteries at the National. Coulson most recently appeared on stage in Blame at the Arcola.

Following Small Change at the Donmar, Margaret Tyzack will appear in artistic director Michael Grandage’s revival of Enid Bagnold’s The Chalk Garden alongside, as previously announced, Penelope Wilton. Tyzack’s myriad stage credits include Southwark Fair, As You Desire Me, Auntie and Me, Tartuffe, An Inspector Calls and Lettice and Lovage.

The Chalk Garden runs from 11 June (previews from 5 June) to 2 August 2008. Raised in a manor house by the sea, where the flowers struggle to grow, 16-year-old Laurel runs wild. As her eccentric grandmother tends to the garden, Laurel’s need for love forces her into a fantasy world. Things begin to change with the appointment of a mysterious new governess.

John Gielgud directed Edith Evans and Peggy Ashcroft in the play’s 1956 premiere at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Author Enid Bagnold remains best known for her 1935 novel National Velvet. The garden in The Chalk Garden was inspired by Bagnold’s own garden at North End House in Rottingdean.

At the Royal Court, Benedict Cumberbatch (pictured) – who last year headed the Court’s cross-cast productions of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros and Frisch’s The Arsonists - will return to the Sloane Square venue next month to star in the world premiere of Martin Crimp’s new play The City (See News, 8 Nov 2007). The “darkly comic mystery” in which three characters fight to make sense of a surreal and collapsing world, runs from 29 April (previews from 24 April) to 7 June 2008. It’s directed by Katie Mitchell who revived Crimp’s 1997 Royal Court play at the National earlier this year. Crimp and Mitchell have also collaborated on The Country and Face to the Wall at the Court and The Seagull at the NT.

Cumberbatch’s other stage credits include The Lady from the Sea, Hedda Gabler and Period of Adjustment at the Almeida. He’s best known for his screen credits including: on television, Hawking, Stuart: A Life Backwards and currently The Last Enemy; and on film, Atonement, The Other Boleyn Girl, Starter for Ten and Amazing Grace. Also confirmed for The City cast is Hattie Morahan (The Seagull, See How They Run, Iphigenia at Aulis on stage, Sense and Sensibility, Bodies, The Bank Job on screen).

In Royal Court casting updates, Brid Brennan, Hayley Carmichael, Neil Dudgeon and Justin Salinger will appear in Bliss, a play about celebrity and fantasy, running from 2 to 26 April 2008 (previews from 28 March) in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. It’s written by French Canadian Olivier Choiniere and translated by Caryl Churchill.

- by Terri Paddock


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