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Old Vic Revives Design & Flea, Honours Rattigan

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Following her current critical hit with After the Dance at the National, Thea Sharrock will direct another Terence Rattigan play, Cause Celebre at the Old Vic in March, as part of the centenary celebrations of the playwright’s birth. The Old Vic’s new season, announced today, will also include new productions of Feydeau farce A Flea in Her Ear, helmed by former NT artistic director Richard Eyre, and, as previously tipped, Noel Coward’s Design for Living, directed by Anthony Page.

Lisa Dillon, who Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey describes as “a compelling and exciting young actress” will star in both Design for Living and A Flea in Her Ear, the season’s first two productions. She’s joined in the first by Andrew Scott and Tom Burke, and in the second by Tom Hollander.

The new season opens, from 15 September to 27 November 2010 (previews from 3 September), with Design for Living, the first major London revival in over 15 years of Noel Coward’s 1932 play, which focuses on three self-absorbed and egotistical lovers – Gilda and bisexuals, Otto and Leo – who challenge the moral boundaries of their relationships. It’s co-produced by Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer.

It’s followed, from 14 December 2010 to 5 March 2011 (previews from 4 December), by A Flea in Her Ear. John Mortimer’s version of Georges Feydeau’s 1907 French farce has previously been performed on the Old Vic stage in 1989 (starring Jim Broadbent) and in 1966 (under the auspices of the then-resident National Theatre). In the comedy of errors, Raymonde (Dillon) suspects her husband (Hollander) of infidelity and enlists the help of a friend to set a trap for him. The production, co-produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, lures Richard Eyre back to the Old Vic for the first time since he helmed Trevor GriffithsComedians there in 1974.

The third offering in Kevin Spacey’s seventh season in charge of the South Bank landmark is Terence Rattigan’s last play, 1977’s Cause Celebre, which runs from 29 March to 11 June 2011 (previews from 17 March), which marks the Old Vic debut for Thea Sharrock. Based on a true story, the play centres on Alma Rattenbury, who went on trial with her 18-year-old lover for the murder of her much-older husband. In the eyes of the public, Alma is condemned as much for her seduction of the boy as for murder, and her fate is left in the hands of a sexually repressed jury forewoman. No casting has yet been announced for Cause Celebre.

Lisa Dillon won the 2004 Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Newcomer and the Ian Charleson Award for The Master Builder, which starred Patrick Stewart and was directed by Design for Living’s Anthony Page. Her other credits include: on stage, Iphigenia at Aulis, Othello, Hedda Gabler, Period of Adjustment and two Noel Coward plays, Present Laughter at the National, just seen in the West End with Kim Cattrall and Matthew Macfadyen, Private Lives, directed by A Flea in Her Ear’s Richard Eyre; and Cambridge Spies, Bright Young Things and Cranford on screen.


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