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Casting confirmed for National summer

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 22 April 2008

Roger Allam, Clare Higgins and Corin Redgrave are all to appear at the National Theatre in the summer months.

Allam takes the lead role of Max Reinhardt in Michael Frayn’s new play, Afterlife, which premieres in the Lyttelton on 10 June (previews from 3 June). Set in 1930s Austria, Frayn’s play centres on Reinhardt, the Jewish theatrical impresario who each year directs the morality play Everyman at the Salzburg Festival. Then, in 1938, Hitler’s actions in Austria mean Reinhardt is left as vulnerable as the Everyman himself, and his ambition to dissolve the boundary between theatre and the world it portrays is achieved in a way he could never have foreseen.

Allam previously played Willy Brandt in Frayn’s Democracy at the National and in the West End. He is a regular at the National where his credits include The Cherry Orchard, Albert Speer, Summerfolk, Money and Troilus And Cressida. He has also been seen in the West End in Boeing Boeing, Blackbird, Aladdin and Privates On Parade, for which he won the 2002 Best Actor Laurence Olivier Award.

The cast of Afterlife also includes David Burke – who starred in Frayn’s Copenhagen at the National in 1999 – Abigail Cruttenden, Peter Forbes, Glyn Grain, Selina Griffiths and David Schofield.

Also in the Lyttelton, Higgins joins Simon Russell Beale in Harold Pinter’s early work A Slight Ache, a one-act play to run at the venue for a short season from 21 July to 13 August at 18:00. The duo, currently appearing in Major Barbara in the Olivier, plays long-married couple Edward and Flora, whose loveless bourgeois marriage is splintered by the arrival of a silent stranger.

In a second production in the 18:00 timeslot, Redgrave returns to the National for three performances only from 16 June in De Profundis, a reading of the famous love letter that Oscar Wilde wrote to his lover Bosie during the time he spent in Reading Gaol in 1897. The letter, a torrent of accusation, passion and eventually reconciliation, is edited for performance by Wilde’s grandson, Merlin Holland. Redgrave first performed in De Profundis at the National in 2000 to mark the centenary of Wilde’s death.

Further details, dates and casting have also been released for other forthcoming productions during the summer months.

In the Olivier, as part of the Travelex £10 season, Melly Still’s production of Thomas Middelton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy previews from 27 May, with a press night on 4 June. As previously announced, 2008 Laurence Olivier Award-winner Rory Kinner leads the cast of this dark play as Vindice, who plots the grotesque murder of the Duke after he poisoned Vindice’s beloved. The full cast comprises Adjoa Andoh, Tom Andrews, Ken Bones, Donatella Cabras, Billy Carter, Elliot Cowan, Conor Doyle, Barbara Flynn, John Heffernan, Peter Hinton, Derek Howard, Pieter Lawman, Jane Leaney, Tommy Luther, Katherine Manners, Rob McNeill, Pamela Merrick, Simon Nagra, Rick Nodine, Jamie Parker, Richard Shanks, Ross Waiton and Lizzie Winkler.

The Travelex £10 season in the Olivier is completed by Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s Her Naked Skin, which opens on 31 July following previews from 24 July. Howard Davies, currently directing Never So Good at the National, directs this new play about militancy in the Suffragette Movement in 1913, focusing on two very different women who meet whilst serving time in Holloway Prison. Casting is to be confirmed.

Following a season at the Live Theatre Newcastle, The Pitmen Painters, a new play by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot), comes to the Cottesloe from 19 May to 25 June, with a press night on 21 May. Set in 1934, Hall’s comic play is based on the true story of a group of Ashington miners who hire a professor to teach them an art appreciation evening class. Within a few years their paintings become sought-after, but they continue to work, as before, down the mine. The cast comprises Christopher Connel, Michael Hodgson, Ian Kelly, Brian Lonsdale, Lisa McGrillis, Deka Walmsley, David Whitaker and Phillippa Wilson.

Katie Mitchell’s new production …Some Trace Of Her is confirmed to open in the Cottesloe on 30 July after previews from 23 July. Inspired by Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, this multi-media production develops the use of live video as seen in director Mitchell’s 2006 production Waves – which also returns to the National in August. Ben Whishaw is joined in the cast by Hattie Morahan, most recently seen as Elinor Dashwood in Andrew Davies’s BBC TV adaptation of Austen’s Sense And Sensibility. Morahan and Whishaw both worked with Mitchell on her 2006 production of The Seagull.

This summer at the National also sees the return of annual outdoor festival Watch This Space, which runs from 4 July to 14 September. Circus, street theatre, world music, family events and installations will take place in Theatre Square, in front of the National. Further details and performance schedules are to be announced.

CB

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