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Almeida premieres American work

First Published 19 May 2008, Last Updated 19 May 2008

The autumn/winter season at the Almeida is to feature British premieres of work by Sam Shepard and Neil LaBute along with a revival of Harley Granville Barker’s Waste.

The season marks a return to the Islington playhouse for American playwrights Shepard and LaBute, who have both had work staged at the Almeida before. This season sees the British premiere of Shepard’s latest play Kicking A Dead Horse, and the European premiere of LaBute’s In A Dark Dark House.

Oscar-nominated actor Stephen Rea (The Crying Game) makes his London theatre return in Kicking A Dead Horse, which opens the season, running from 5 to 20 September (press night 10 September). It will be Rea’s first London engagement since 2004’s Cyrano De Bergerac at the National Theatre, though he did appear in the gala production of Pinter’s Celebration at the Noël Coward in December 2005.

Kicking A Dead Horse, which premiered at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, will run at New York’s Public Theatre before transferring for 16 performances at the Almeida. It is the story of a wealthy Manhattan art dealer, Hobart Struther, who ditches his shiny city life in search of authenticity in the modern-day Wild West.

Shepard’s previous plays include True West, Fool For Love, Buried Child, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and The Late Henry Moss, which was given its European premiere at the Almeida in 2006.

Waste follows Kicking A Dead Horse, in a production directed by Samuel West, running from 25 September to 15 November (press night 2 October). The tale of an independent politician whose personal life brings scandal into the political arena, Waste was written in 1907 but banned by the Lord Chamberlain. It eventually received its premiere in 1936.

Actor/director West scored a recent success with his production of Dealer’s Choice which was first staged at the Menier Chocolate Factory before transferring to the Trafalgar Studio 1. Other directorial credits include The Romans In Britain, Insignificance and As You Like It for Sheffield Theatres. No casting for Waste has been announced.

The Almeida’s Artistic Director Michael Attenborough will direct the European premiere of In A Dark Dark House, which runs from 20 November to 17 January (press night27 November). It will be the second LaBute piece that Attenborough has directed at the Almeida, following 2003’s The Mercy Seat.

In A Dark Dark House brings two brothers together as one is forced into rehab. The reunion causes scarcely concealed animosities to resurface.

Before In A Dark Dark House opens at the Almeida, LaBute’s Fat Pig opens at the Trafalgar Studio 1 (press night 27 May). LaBute’s work has become a regular feature of London theatre in recent years with the Bush staging Helter Skelter/Land Of The Dead earlier in 2008, Bash being staged at the Trafalgar Studio 2 in 2007 and Some Girl(s) presented in the West End in 2005.

Currently previewing at the Almeida is Ibsen’s Rosmersholm, which opens on Thursday. The tale of a widower clergyman whose relationship with Rebecca West changes his life stars Helen McCrory and Paul Hilton, and runs until 5 July.



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