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Gwynne, Wilton & Dillon Lead Almeida Season

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Haydn Gwynne, Penelope Wilton and Lisa Dillon – fresh from starring in back-to-back productions at the Old Vic - are among the names headlining the newly announced season at the Almeida Theatre, which comprises a new play by David Eldridge, the British premiere of Off-Broadway hit Becky Shaw and a revival of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance.

Gwynne, who created the role of Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot in the West End and on Broadway, will return to the London stage to star in the British premiere of Gina Gionfriddo’s play Becky Shaw, which opens the new season, running from 20 January to 5 March 2011 (previews from 14 January).

The play centres on what happens when newlyweds Suzanna and Andrew set up Suzanna's lifelong best friend, the sharp-tongued money manager Max, with Andrew's romantically-challenged, seemingly fragile co-worker, Becky.

Becky Shaw, which premiered in the US in 2008, will also star Daisy Haggard, Anna Madeley, Vincent Montuel and, making his British stage debut as Max, David Wilson Barnes, who starred in the show Off-Broadway. It’s directed by fellow American Peter DuBois, who also directed the world and New York premieres of it.

Becky Shaw is followed by the world premiere of David Eldridge’s latest play, commissioned by the Almeida and helmed by artistic director Michael Attenborough. The Knot of the Heart runs from 17 March to 30 April 2011 (previews from 10 March) and will star Abigail Cruttenden, Margot Leicester and Lisa Dillon, who’ll come straight from starring in Design for Living and Richard Eyre’s forthcoming production of A Flea in Her Ear at the Old Vic.

Dillon plays Lucy, whose privileged life and burgeoning career in television, is slipping away as her social drug habit turns into a serious addiction and she learns that the support of her family doesn’t come without a price.

Eldridge’s other plays include Summer Begins, Market Boy, Falling, M.A.D and the Whatsonstage.com Award-winning Under the Blue Sky and Festen, the screen-to-stage adaptation which started life at the Almeida in 2005 prior to West End and Broadway transfers.

The new schedule concludes with James Macdonald’s revival of Edward Albee’s 1966 Broadway classic A Delicate Balance, running from 12 May to 2 July 2011 (previews from 5 May) and starring Penelope Wilton, whose most recent stage role was Gertrude to Jude Law’s Donmar Hamlet in the West End and on Broadway.

Urban socialites Agnes (Wilton) and Tobias appear to inhabit a glamorous world of drinks parties and social clubs. But the return home of their recently divorced daughter, the constant presence of Agnes’ alcoholic sister Claire and the impromptu late-night arrival of close friends, begin to peel away the veneer and expose the characters’ fears of stepping out of the drawing room and into the real world.

The last major London revival of A Delicate Balance starred Eileen Atkins and Maggie Smith at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket. The Almeida has previously produced Albee’s The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?, The Play About the Baby and his best-known work, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.


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