Benedict Cumberbatch, who appeared in both Rhinoceros and The Arsonists at the Royal Court in 2007, returns to the Sloane Square venue in April to appear alongside Hattie Morahan in The City. Brid Brennan, Hayley Carmichael, Neil Dudgeon and Justin Salinger who, like Cumberbatch, have previously performed at the famed new writing theatre, also make returns to appear in Bliss.
Cumberbatch is one of Britain’s most exciting young actors, forging parallel careers in theatre, television and film. The actor, whose theatrical credits include Period Of Adjustment and Hedda Gabler (both Almeida), can currently be seen playing Stephen Ezard in BBC mini-series The Last Enemy and William Carey in The Other Boleyn Girl. His other credits include Atonement, Starter For 10, Hawking and Cambridge Spies.
Morahan makes her Royal Court debut in The City, though she will feel at home working with director Katie Mitchell in whose productions of The Seagull and Iphigenia At Aulis (both National Theatre) she has previously appeared. Like Cumberbatch, she will also be familiar to television fans; she recently played Elinor Dashwood in the BBC production of Sense And Sensibility. Morahan also appears in British heist movie The Bank Job opposite Daniel Mays, who is currently appearing in the Royal Court production of Scarborough.
The City is a darkly comic mystery by Martin Crimp, who has recently collaborated with director Mitchell on her National Theatre productions of Attempts On Her Life and The Seagull. It tells of three characters struggling to makes sense of a surreal and collapsing world. Clair wants to be kissed, but not now and certainly not by her husband. Chris wants to celebrate his new job by driving into the oncoming traffic. Jenny arrives to complain about the screaming children, but the garden’s empty and the key to the playroom’s disappeared.
The City opens at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs on 29 April, following previews from 24 April, and runs until 7 June.
Dudgeon will enjoy six days off after finishing The Homecoming at the Almeida before previews for Bliss start at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs on 28 March. A regular performer on stage and screen, Dudgeon’s previous Royal Court credits include Ashes To Ashes, Blasted, No One Sees The Video and Road.
Brennan, who last appeared at the Royal Court in Woman And Scarecrow, won a Tony Award for her performance in Dancing At Lughnasa and has also been twice nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award (Little Foxes at the Donmar Warehouse and Rutherford And Son at the National). Carmichael is the co-founder of theatre company Told By An Idiot, whose credits include Kneehigh’s Cymbeline, the National’s Theatre Of Blood and Complicite’s The Street Of Crocodiles. Salinger’s credits include The Seagull, A Dream Play, The UN Inspector, Pillars Of The Community and Iphigenia At Aulis (all National).
Bliss is a new play by Canadian playwright Olivier Choinière which has been translated for this Joe Hill-Gibbins production by Caryl Churchill. Set at a Walmart, the wild and slippery fantasy explores the insatiable appetite for private lives made public.