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Hare Gethsemane Debuts With Greig at NT, 11 Nov

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Olivier Award winner Tamsin Greig will make her National Theatre debut this autumn playing a compromised MP in the world premiere of David Hare’s new political drama Gethsemane, which will open on 11 November 2008 (previews from 11 November) in the NT Cottesloe, where it will run in rep ahead of a UK tour in 2009 (See News, 16 Jan 2008).

Hare’s 14th play for the National is inspired by the 2006 scandal involving former culture secretary Tessa Jowell who separated from her lawyer husband after he was accused of money laundering and tax fraud in Italy.

According to the press release, Hare’s new piece about party fundraising – which is fictional as opposed to his recent verbatim dramas at the NT, Stuff Happens (about the Iraq war) and The Permanent Way (about the dismantlement of British rail) – is a “richly imagined ensemble play about British public life (which) looks at the way business, media and politics are now intertwined to nobody’s advantage, as, in an unforgiving world, one character after another passes through Gethsemane.”

Best known to TV fans from the likes of Green Wing, Love Soup and Black Books, Tamsin Greig’s stage credits include Much Ado About Nothing (for which she won the 2006 Best Actress Olivier) and King John for the RSC and, earlier this year in the West End, God of Carnage. In Gethsemane, she plays the Tessa Jowell-like character, Meredith Guest.

Others so far confirmed for the Gethsemane cast are Anthony Calf (who plays the prime minister), Jessica Raine, Stanley Townsend and Nicola Walker. The premiere production is directed by NT associate director Howard Davies and designed by Bob Crowley, with costumes by Fotini Dimou, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Christopher Shutt.

As part of the National’s new booking period - announced today and running from November 2008 to February 2009 – dates were also confirmed for three other new productions joining the repertoire: the transfer of this year’s five-time Tony Award winner August: Osage County (See News, 20 Jun 2008), the revival of Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn’s 1977 “play for actors and orchestra” Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Samuel Adamson’s new Ibsen-inspired play, Mrs Affleck (See News, 16 Jan 2008).

Tracy Letts’ comedy-drama August: Osage County - which won five top gongs, including Best Play, at this year’s Tony Awards in New York (See News, 16 Jun 2008) – will receive its UK premiere on 26 November 2008 (previews from 21 November) in the NT Lyttelton, where it runs until 21 January 2009.

When the Westons unexpectedly reunite after dad disappears, their Oklahoman homestead explodes in a maelstrom of repressed truths and unsettling secrets, all overseen by the pill-popping and scathingly acidic matriarch Violet. The Steppenwolf Theater production, originally seen in Chicago in summer 2007, opened in New York last November. The play also won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Negotiations are still underway to bring the original US cast, including Tony winners Deanna Dunagan and Rondi Reed, to London.

In the NT Olivier, Punchdrunk’s Felix Barrett and NT associate director Tom Morris will direct Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, a co-production with Southbank Sinfonia orchestra, which opens on 26 January 2009 (previews from 12 January). A dissident is locked up in an asylum with a real lunatic who thinks he’s surrounded by an orchestra.

And in the NT Cottesloe, Mrs Affleck, Samuel Adamson’s re-imagining of Ibsen’s 1895 Little Eyolf relocated to 1950s England, opens on 27 January 2009 (previews from 20 January). After six weeks alone with her crippled little boy, Rita Affleck welcomes home her husband Alfred, but the arrival of Alfred’s half-sister ruins the craved-for passionate reunion. Mrs Affleck reunites Adamson with director Marianne Elliott, with whom he had a 2005 NT hit with a new version of Ibsen’s Pillars of the Community. Claire Skinner will take the title role, with Naomi Frederick and Angus Wright also confirmed for the cast.

- by Terri Paddock


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