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Plays Extend: Oxford Street at Elephant, Pygmalion

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Following its run last month at the Royal Court, the premiere production of Levi David Addai’s new retail-set play Oxford Street moves from Sloane Square to a disused outlet in the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre in south London, where it will run from 11 to 14 June with tickets reduced to only £8 (or £5 for under-25s).

Royal Court artistic director Dominic Cooke said: “The Royal Court exists to experiment, and should not be limited by its four walls. I am always looking for ways in which we can take our work out of the building and into our local communities, so taking Oxford Street to Elephant and Castle sets an exciting precedent. It’s certainly something I look to continue and build upon in the coming months.”

Oxford Street is a comedy that looks beyond the glossy facade of the high street, at the stories and ambitions of the workers within. At Total Sports, security guard Kofi and his workmates are making sure everything runs smoothly, easing the daily grind with plenty of jokes and chat about the future. Young or old, they all want more from life. The only difference is how they’ll go about getting it.

The original Royal Court cast – led by former So Solid Crew rapper Ashley Walters (pictured), Preeya Kalida and Nathaniel Martello-White (as Kofi) – will reprise their performances in Elephant & Castle. Oxford Street had its world premiere on 7 May 2008 (previews from 2 May) at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, where it ran until 31 May (See 1st Night Photos, 12 May 2008). It’s directed by Dawn Walton. Also in the cast are Cyril Nyri, Kristian Kiehling, Amelia Lowdell, Reece Beaumont, Daniel Kaluuya and Shane Zaza.

Meanwhile, Peter Hall’s Whatsonstage.com Award-winning production of George Bernard Shaw’s 1916 classic Pygmalion has added a week to its limited London season. The revival opened on 15 May 2008 (previews from 7 May) at the Old Vic where it will now continue until 9 August (See Review Round-up, 19 May 2008).

Original stars Tim Pigott-Smith and Michelle Dockery reprise their roles as phonetics professor Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, the cockney flower girl he transforms into a duchess. The cast also features James Laurenson (as Colonel Pickering), Una Stubbs (Mrs Pearce), Tony Haygarth (Alfred Doolittle) and Barbara Jefford (Mrs Higgins).

The production, directed by Hall and designed by Simon Higlett, was first seen last July at the Theatre Royal Bath (See News, 12 Mar 2007), where Hall’s company has had an annual summer residency for the past five years. In 1973, Peter Hall became successor to Laurence Olivier as the artistic director of the nascent National Theatre, then operating at the Old Vic before moving to its custom-built South Bank home. In 1997, he returned with his own Peter Hall Company and a season of plays including Waiting for Godot, Waste and The Seagull.

by Terri Paddock


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