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Harwood’s New Tragedy Marks Watford Centenary

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Ronald Harwood’s new play An English Tragedy will receive its world premiere next month at Watford Palace, kicking off the theatre’s 2008 centenary season.

Harwood’s play is based on the true story of British anti-Semite John Amery, who was arrested at the end of the Second World War and charged with high treason after making propaganda broadcasts for Nazi Germany. It’s May 1945 at the time of victory in Europe and a Labour landslide. After his arrest in Italy, Amery is brought back to London for trial. He faces the death penalty. But his father is a senior politician – surely the Establishment will look after its own…

Richard Goulding plays John Amery, with Jeremy Child and Diana Hardcastle as Amery’s parents in Di Trevis’ premiere production, which runs from 18 February to 8 March 2008 (previews from 15 February). Harwood’s stage plays include Equally Divided, The Good Companions, Intepreters, Mahler’s Conversion, Quartet, Taking Sides and, most famously, The Dresser, which was based on his own experiences as Donald Wolfit’s dresser.

In addition to adaptations of his plays, including The Dresser, Harwood (pictured) has also had great success on screen, most notably with 2002’s The Pianist, which won him an Oscar, and the current French film release The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, tipped for success at this year’s Academy Awards.

Following An English Tragedy, Watford’s centenary season will continue with three-more in-house productions: As You Like It (4 to 26 April), the theatre’s first Shakespeare since 1976, directed by artistic director Brigid Larmour and taking its inspiration from the period when the theatre was first built; a revival of Alan Bennett’s 1986 play Kafka's Dick (8 to 31 May) in which Franz Kafka is brought back to life; and, concluding the year, a new version of Christmas pantomime Dick Whittington and His Cat, written and directed by Joyce Branagh and set in 1908, the year the theatre first opened.

There will also be visiting productions including: Hoipolloi’s The Doubtful Guest, National Theatre of Scotland and Wee Stories’ The Emperor’s New Kit and Yellow Earth’s Running the Silk Road.

- by Terri Paddock


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