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Cast: Skins’ Murray in West End Face, NT Update

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Hannah Murray (pictured), star of Channel 4’s award-winning teen-centred drama series Skins, will play Mia, daughter of Lindsay Duncan’s Martha and sister of Matt Smith’s Henry, in the West End transfer of Polly Stenham’s multi award-winning debut play That Face (See News, 18 Feb 2007). The production opens for on 8 May 2008 (previews from 1 May) for a ten-week season at the Duke of York’s Theatre, following its premiere last April at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs.

In the portrayal of an affluent family in freefall – billed as a “comic exploration of children who become parents to their parents” – the drugged and boozed-up Martha is fixated on her teenage son and oblivious to the boarding school terror tactics exerted by her teenage daughter.

Murray, who is best known as Cassie in Skins, will make professional stage debut in That Face. In addition to Duncan and Smith, the West End company includes Julian Wadham and Catherine Steadman, who were also in the original cast.

That Face has won Stenham Most Promising Playwright trophies at this year’s Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards. It also won the TMA Award and was nominated for a Whatsonstage.com Award for Best New Play. In this year’s Laurence Olivier Awards, the cast has been nominated for “Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre”, for the play’s run last April/May at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. Stenham is now working on a screen adaptation of the play, with a substantial grant from the UK Film Council.

That Face is directed by Jeremy Herrin and designed by Mike Britton. It’s presented in the West End by Sonia Friedman Productions, Tulchin/Bartner and Jamie Hendry. As a joint pricing initiative with the Royal Court, 100 best seats will be available for every performance at £25.

At the National Theatre, further casting details have been confirmed for several upcoming productions (See News, 16 Jan 2008). First up, in the NT Lyttelton, the previously announced Jeremy Irons (making his NT debut) and Ian McNeice, playing Harold Macmillan and Winston Churchill, are joined in the world premiere of Howard Brenton’s Never So Good, by: Anna Carteret, Anna Chancellor, Anthony Calf, Bertie Carvel, Pip Carter, Clive Francis, Ben Addis, Jonathan Battersby, Peter Forbes, Tim Frances, Robert Glenister, Terrence Hardiman, Sarah Head, Sioned Jones, Anne Kavanagh, Nicholas Lumley, Charlotte Melia, Roger Ringrose, Janet Spencer-Turner, Terence Wilton, Claire Winsper and Rupert Young.

According to Hytner, Brenton’s new play about Harold Macmillan, the Conservative politician who was prime minister from 1957 to 1963, explores the personal and ideological compromises required by those who reach the top in democratic politics. NT associate Howard Davies directs the production which opens on 26 March 2008 (previews from 17 March).

In the NT Olivier, Tony Harrison’s play about the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, Fram, which the author directs with Bob Crowley (who also designs), opens on 17 April 2008 (previews from 10 April), with Jasper Britton as Nansen and Sian Thomas as Sybil Thorndike. Mark Addy, currently appearing as Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing in the same theatre, will play Hjalmar Johansen, Nansen’s suicidal companion in his North Pole bid. Also in the cast are: Jeff Rawle (as Greek scholar Gilbert Murray), Jim Creighton, Patrick Drury, Viviana Durante, Steven Helliwell, Aykut Hilmi, Clare Lawrence, Carolyn Pickles and Joseph Thompson.

And in the NT Cottesloe, another new play, Simon Stephens’ Harper Regan, starring Lesley Sharp in the title role, also features Eamon Boland, Susan Brown, Brian Capron, Jack Deam, Troy Glasgow, Jessica Harris, Nitin Kundra, Michael Mears, Jessica Raine and Nick Sidi. On an autumn night in 2006, Harper Regan walked away from her home, husband and daughter. For two lost days and nights, she kept walking and didn’t turn back. NT associate Marianne Elliott directs.

- by Terri Paddock


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