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Menier Reunites Wests in Number, Goes Invisible

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Father and son Timothy and Samuel West will play father and son in the first major London revival of Caryl Churchill’s 2002 play about cloning, A Number. The new production, directed by Jonathan Munby based on his 2006 staging at Sheffield Crucible, forms part of the new autumn/winter season at the Menier Chocolate Factory, which will also include the European premiere of promenade mystery tour piece Accomplice and a revival of Ken Hill’s adaptation of HG Wells’ classic novel The Invisible Man.

The Invisible Man, which will run from 24 November 2010 to 13 February 2011 (previews from 12 November), makes an unusual choice for the Menier’s festive season programming slot, which has traditionally been taken by revivals of classic Broadway musicals. Previous Christmas-launched musicals - Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music, La Cage aux Folles, Little Shop of Horrors and, last year, Sweet Charity - have all transferred to the West End and, in the case of the first three, Broadway as well, after their initial sell-out runs at the Menier’s 150-seat home base in Southwark, London.

The Chocolate Factory’s full autumn/winter season is as follows:

  • Accomplice, from 4 September 2010 onwards - Set on the streets of SE1 around the Chocolate Factory, this “part game, part theatre, part tour” takes audiences, armed with basic information, on a mystery exploration of the area, with cast members and other clues lining the route. Performances, for a maximum of ten theatregoers each, will take place on Saturdays and Sundays, every half hour from 1pm to 4.30pm. After booking, theatregoers will be contacted with details about where to begin their journey. The run of Accomplice plays concurrently with productions in the theatre’s auditorium, currently (until 26 September), Trevor Nunn’s revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Aspects of Love.

    Launched in New York in 2005 and in Los Angeles in 2009, Accomplice has proved a hit in the US. It’s created, written and directed by Tom Salamon who also produces with Neil Patrick Harris, best known as an actor from US sitcoms How I Met Your Mother and Doogie Howser MD. Harris continues an association with the Menier, having previously performed in Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick ... Boom and directed the sleight-of-hand piece The Expert at the Card Table.
  • A Number, 4 October to 5 November 2010 (previews from 29 September) - Set in the near future, Caryl Churchill’s two-hander is structured around the conflict between father and son, addressing the subjects of human cloning, identity and nature versus nurture. The play had its world premiere in 2002 at the Royal Court, directed by Stephen Daldry and starring Michael Gambon and Daniel Craig.

    Samuel West originally invited Munby to direct him and his father in the piece at Sheffield Crucible, during his reign there as artistic director. Prior to that 2006 run, the two Wests had only appeared together in one previous stage play, English Touring Theatre’s 1997 staging of Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, in which Samuel played Hal to Timothy’s Falstaff.
  • The Invisible Man, 24 November 2010 to 13 February 2011 (previews from 12 November) - Ken Hill’s music hall romp adaptation of HG Wells’ 1897 novella premiered at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1991 before transferring to the West End in 1993. The ‘ideous ‘appenings that shook the bucolic village of Iping when the sinister Griffin arrived, wrapped in bandages and with a distinctly unsociable manner, are told with tongue-in-cheek humour combined with jaw-dropping special effects.

    Of Hill’s many other literary adaptations was his 1976 version of The Phantom of the Opera, which predated the Lloyd Webber musical. The Invisible Man will be directed by former Open Air artistic director Ian Talbot, with designs by Paul Farnsworth, costumes by Matthew Wright, lighting by Jason Taylor, sound by Gareth Owen and, critically for the subject, illusions by Paul Kieve, whose other work includes The Lord of the Rings, The Witches of Eastwick, Our House, Theatre of Blood and previous stagings of The Invisible Man.
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