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Dee Brings Ayckbourn’s Woman to West End, 6 Feb

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As previously tipped (See The Goss, 6 Oct 2008), the West End will soon get another dose of Alan Ayckbourn, with the transfer of the prolific playwright’s own production of his 1985 black comedy Woman in Mind. The revival, starring Janie Dee, will have a limited season at the Vaudeville Theatre from 6 February to 31 May 2009 (previews from 29 January).

Janie Dee last worked with Ayckbourn ten years ago on, arguably, the biggest hit of her career to date: playing an android in Ayckbourn’s Comic Potential, which earned her Best Actress trophies at the Evening Standard, Critics’ Circle and Laurence Olivier Awards. That production, which Ayckbourn also directed, opened first at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre, where the playwright has been the artistic director for the past 36 years, before transferring to the West End.

In Woman in Mind, forty-something Susan is starved of affection by her vicar husband and distant son. Following a bump on the head care of an accident with a rake, Susan is confronted with not just her real family but also an imaginary one that’s far more devoted.

The production had a limited run at in Scarborough this past September as part of the Ayckbourn’s farewell season as the Stephen Joseph’s artistic director (See News, 10 Jul 2008).

Dee’s many other West End credits include Donkey Years, Carousel, My One and Only, Mack & Mabel, Betrayal and, most recently, Shadowlands with Charles Dance. Dee is joined in the cast by Ayckbourn regulars Bill Champion, Joanna David, Stuart Fox and Paul Kemp. Also in the company are Perdita Avery, Dominic Hecht and Martin Parr.

Woman in Mind is produced in the West End by Bill Kenwright, who also revived Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular at the Garrick Theatre earlier this year. The Old Vic’s current in-the-round production of Ayckbourn’s 1973 trilogy The Norman Conquests has just been nominated for three Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, including Best Play Revival (See News, 5 Dec 2008).

Currently at the Vaudeville Theatre, the Donmar Warehouse transfer of Piaf starring Elena Roger will finish its limited season on 21 January 2009.

- by Terri Paddock


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