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Stevenson & Goodman Duet Begins Almeida 2009

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Olivier Award winners Juliet Stevenson and Henry Goodman (pictured) will star in Tom Kempinski’s 1980 two-hander Duet for One at the Almeida Theatre in the new year. The production is one of two major revivals in the theatre’s 2009 season, announced today (14 October 2008), which will also comprise five premieres, including new work by Jez Butterworth, Christopher Hampton and Samuel Adamson.

Duet for One kicks off the schedule, running from 29 January to 24 March 2009 (previews from 29 January). After celebrated concert violinist Stephanie Abrahams (Stevenson) is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she consults psychiatrist Dr Feldmann (Goodman), whose probing questions delve deep her complex personality and force her to consider a future without music.

Kempinski’s play premiered in 1980 at the Bush, where Frances de la Tour and David Keyser starred, before transferring to the West End and Broadway. The 1986 Hollywood film starred Julie Andrews and Max von Sydow.

Stevenson’s most recent stage credits include The Seagull, Alice Trilogy, The Country, We Happy Few and Private Lives. She won a Best Actress Olivier for Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Salesman. Her film credits include Truly Madly Deeply, Being Julia, Breaking and Entering and Bend It Like Beckham.

Goodman has most recently been seen on stage in Fiddler on the Roof, The Exonerated, The Birthday Party and, at the Almeida, The Hypochondriac. He’s won Oliviers for The Merchant of Venice and Assassins. Duet for One will be directed by Matthew Lloyd and designed by Lez Brotherston.

The Almeida’s 2009 season continues, from 26 March to 9 May 2009 (previews from 19 March), with the European premiere of Jez Butterworth’s latest play Parlour Song, directed by former Royal Court artistic director Ian Rickson, who also helmed Butterworth’s The Winterling, The Night Heron and his multi award-winning 1995 debut play Mojo.

The comedy, which had its world premiere in New York this past March, centres on married couple Ned and Joy and their neighbour Dale, who live in identical houses and occasionally enjoy a game of scrabble. But Ned has a recurring problem – things keep disappearing.

Next up, running from 21 May to 4 July 2009 (previews from 14 May), is the European premiere of Australian stage and screen writer Andrew Bovell’s climate change epic When the Rain Stops Falling. First seen this past February at the Adelaide Festival, the play spans four generations and two continents, moving from the claustrophobia of a 1950s London flat to the heart of the Australian desert.

Bovell’s 1996 play Speaking in Tongues had a run at Hampstead Theatre. His other credits include Lantana, on stage and screen, and the screenplay for Strictly Ballroom, which he co-wrote with Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. The European premiere of When the Rain Stops Falling will be directed by Almeida artistic director Michael Attenborough.

Christopher Hampton resumes his fascination with Austrian playwright Odon von Horvath, who in 1938 was killed by a falling tree branch in Paris, with the world premiere of von Horvath’s final play, 1937’s Judgment Day, which will be directed by James Macdonald and will run at the Almeida from 10 September to 17 October 2009 (previews from 4 September).

In a small village in Austria, diligent station master Thomas Hudetz is a well respected member of the local community until flirtatious young Anna momentarily distracts him from his duties, causing a fatal train wreck for which the town needs to find the culprit. Hampton has previously adapted von Horvath’s Tales from the Vienna Woods, Faith Hope and Charity and Don Juan Comes Back from the War and, in his own original play, Tales from Hollywood, imagined him as a character who survived the tree branch and emigrated to Los Angeles.

Judgment Day is followed, from 29 October to 5 December 2009 (previews from 22 October), by the world premiere of Samuel Adamson’s latest play, A Quiet Island, directed by Indhu Rubasingham. On a remote Greek island, Vick is searching for her music icon father Tom Stark, who disappeared five years ago. There she meets husband and wife Sean and Charlotte, who are recovering from the accidental death of their child. A brief encounter leads to a dangerous obsession.

Adamson’s other plays include Southwark Fair, Clocks and Whistles, Mrs Affleck (which premieres at the National in January) and the adaptation of Pedro Almodovar’s All About My Mother, for which he won the Whatsonstage.com Award for Best New Play.

Next year concludes at the Almeida with Roger Michell’s revival of Patrick Hamilton’s classic 1929 thriller Rope, running from 16 December 2009 (previews from 10 December) to 30 January 2010. Hamilton has enjoyed a recent renaissance with the Old Vic’s revival of his play Gaslight last year and acclaimed run for Fidelis Morgan’s adaptation of his novel Hangover Square at the Finborough Theatre this summer.

In a Mayfair apartment, two students have murdered a peer and deposited his body in a chest in their living room. Believing they’re above common morality and suspicion, they invite the victim’s father, his aunt and several of their friends over for tea, served on the chest. In 1948, Alfred Hitchcock directed James Stewart in the film version of Rope, one of Hitchcock’s first films in technicolour.

Further ahead, artistic director Michael Attenborough, who is a former principal associate director at the RSC, will bring Shakespeare to the Almeida, kicking off 2010 with a new production of Measure for Measure.

- by Terri Paddock


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