Carvel and Shaw lead NT season

Published May 31, 2012

Bertie Carvel, Fiona Shaw and Philip Glenister will star in the National Theatre’s new season, with three new plays announced to play at the Southbank venue this year.

James Graham’s This House will run in the Cottesloe theatre from 18 September, Howard Barker’s Scenes from an Execution will play in the Lyttelton theatre from 27 September while the venue’s biggest space, the Olivier theatre, will house Tirso de Molina’s Damned By Despair from 2 October.

Directed by Jeremy Herrin (Absent Friends, Death And The Maiden), 1970s drama This House is set in the engine rooms of Westminster, stripping politics down to the practical realities of those behind  the scenes . As the UK faces economic crisis and a hung parliament, Graham’s play takes a glimpse at a period when votes were won or lost by one, there were fist fights in the bar and sick MPs are carried through the lobby to register their vote.

This House will see Glenister, who is well known for his starring roles in TV series Mad Dogs and Ashes To Ashes, make his National Theatre debut. He is joined in the cast by National Theatre regulars Phil Daniels (Carousel, Dealer’s Choice) and Julian Wadham (Much Ado About Nothing, Tartuffe).

Following starring roles in NT productions London Assurance, Mother Courage And Her Children and Happy Days, Shaw will lead the cast of Scenes From An Execution as the artist Galactia. Directed by Tom Cairns (Being Shakespeare), the provocative play is set in 16th century Venice when Galactia is commissioned to paint a vast canvas celebrating the triumphant Battle of Lepanto. Instead, the rebel creates a scene of war-torn carnage.

The Kitchen director Bijan Sheibani will bring the NT forward into the 17th century with Damned By Despair, a fast-paced adventure story embracing bandits and beautiful women between glimpses of heaven and hell.

In a new version by Frank McGuinness, Damned By Despair tells the tale of hermit Paulo, who, obsessed by his own salvation, devotes himself to 10 years of prayerful penance. When his faith wavers, the ever-watchful devil seizes the moment to convince him that he shares the fate of Enrico, a notorious Neapolitan gangster destined for damnation. Swearing vengeance, Paulo lashes out against God and assembles a band of rival outlaws, though all the while redemption hovers over the two men, perhaps within reach.

Carvel will follow his Olivier Award-winning performance as Matilda The Musical’s fearsome villain Miss Trunchbull to play the very different but equally villainous Enrico. He will be joined in the cast by Sebastian Armesto (A Woman Killed With Kindness, Rocket To The Moon) in the leading role of Paulo, Rory Keenan (The Kitchen, The Big Fellah) and Amanda Lawrence (Greenland).

The NT today also announced that the fourth season of its NT Live broadcasts will open on 6 September with previously announced productions The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, The Last Of The Haussmans, Timon Of Athens and The Count Of Monte Cristo set to be screened to over 160 cinemas and performing arts venues across the UK during the autumn and winter season.