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Almeida announces last Attenborough season

Published 26 October 2012

Henry James’ classic The Turn Of The Screw, Rodney Ackland’s After The Party and a co-production with Headlong theatre company that will see the world premiere of a new play by Lucy Kirkwood will comprise Michael Attenborough’s last season at the Almeida theatre.

Following the Islington venue’s current hit King Lear, Lindsay Posner, whose previous credits at the venue include The House Of Games and Tom And Viv, will direct Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s new adaptation of James’ thrilling ghost story.

Playing from 18 January to 16 March, The Turn Of The Screw is set on a remote estate in Bly where a governess arrives to care for Miles and Flora. Wild but angelic they charm their guardian with flowers, poetry and song, but as she grows to love her two wards, figures appear in the darkness outside and the corners of the house are haunted by those that have gone before. The governess must confront her fear and protect the children from the alarming dangers that surround them.

Ackland’s Before The Party, a drama based on a short story by Somerset Maugham, will follow the thriller from 21 March to 11 May with director Matthew Dunster at the helm.

The first Ackland play ever to be performed at the Almeida theatre, Before The Party tells the story of a family attempting to return to normal in the wake of the Second World War. With daughter Laura returned from Africa, widowed but not alone, they prepare for the latest social gathering.  Amidst the never-ending whirl of hats and dresses and below stairs skirmishes, Laura reveals a shocking secret that threatens to ruin more than one party on the climb to social success.

Dunster returns to the Almeida theatre in a directorial role following the world premiere of his play Children’s Children at the venue earlier this year. His other many directing credits include Doctor Faustus at Shakespeare’s Globe, Mogadishu at the Lyric Hammersmith and Love The Sinner at the National Theatre.

Concluding the season is Chimerica, a new play by NSFW playwright Kirkwood and a co-production with Rupert Goold’s acclaimed Headlong, a theatre company noted for its often innovative staging and dedication to new ways of making theatre. Playing from 17 May to 29 June, Posh director Turner will make her Almeida theatre debut with Kirkwood’s political play which moves from Tiananmen Square in 1989 to New York in 2012.

In 1989, Joe, a young photojournalist, captures a piece of history. In 2012 Joe is covering a presidential election, marred by debate over cheap labour and the outsourcing of American jobs to Chinese factories.  When a cryptic message is left in a Beijing newspaper, Joe is driven to discover the truth behind the unknown hero he captured on film. Who was he? What happened to him? And could he still be alive?

This is the second time Headlong have collaborated with the Almeida theatre following 2008’s critically acclaimed co-production of The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot. A third co-project is planned for autumn 2013 when the companies will present the world premiere of a musical adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ cult novel American Psycho. Details are yet to be announced but it has been confirmed that American playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa will write the book and lyrics will be by singer-songwriter and composer Duncan Sheik.


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