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Janie Dee Stars in Simon Gray's Middle Classes???

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Simon Gray’s play The Late Middle Classes rather famously didn’t make it into the West End the first time round. Premiered at Watford Palace in March 1999, in a production directed by Harold Pinter and starring Harriet Walter and James Fleet, it was widely expected to transfer but was denied a berth at the Gielgud Theatre in favour of the short-lived pop musical Boyband (See News, 14 May 1999) – a turn of events which prompted Pinter to launch a scathing media attack on the state of the West End.

With both Gray and Pinter sadly passed away over the past year, it looks like it may fall to director Harry Burton to put right that bit of their shared history. Burton is working on a new production of The Late Middle Classes tipped for the autumn with a cast led by Janie Dee. All going to plan, it will bring Dee back into the West End following her current stint in Alan Ayckbourn’s Woman in Mind and a summer with Peter Hall’s company in Bath (See News, 17 Mar 2009).

Set in the early 1950s, The Late Middle Classes centres on Holly, a bright 12-year-old boy, whose snobbish and bored mother is being cheated on by her husband with her tennis partner, and whose piano tutor has an interest in him beyond the merely musical.

Incidentally, Harry Burton is no stranger to either Simon Gray or Harold Pinter. He’s already had success in the West End with his 2007 revival of Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter, starring Lee Evans. And he recently helmed the Simon Gray tribute at the West End’s Comedy Theatre, and will soon mount a similar evening in honour of Pinter in New York.


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