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Cusack and Higgins in Old Vic premiere

Published 24 January 2014

Acclaimed actresses Sinéad Cusack and Clare Higgins will play sisters in the UK premiere of Other Desert Cities when Jon Robin Baitz’s drama opens at the Old Vic Theatre in March.

The pair will play Polly Wyeth and Silda Grauman in the first production of a season that will see the Old Vic’s auditorium transformed into an in-the-round space.

The play, which won an Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play when it premiered in New York in 2010, begins its London run on 13 March.

Fierce and funny, Other Desert Cities follows Brooke Wyeth as she returns to her family in Palm Springs for the first time in six years. But she has news for her Republican parents Polly (Cusack) and Lyman, her brother and her recovering alcoholic aunt (Higgins). She has written a memoir that will expose a painful and pivotal moment in the family’s history. Unsurprisingly relationships become strained.

The casting marks Cusack’s return to the Old Vic, where she previously appeared in The Cherry Orchard and The Winter’s Tale as part of the Sam Mendes-led The Bridge Project. The actress, who has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company, boasts Tony Award nominations for her performances in Much Ado About Nothing and Our Lady Of Sligo, which also won her an Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Award in London.

Higgins is a triple Olivier Award winner, collecting the coveted statuette for performances in Hecuba, Sweet Bird Of Youth and Vincent In Brixton.  Her other recent stage roles include playing Jocasta opposite Ralph Fiennes’ Oedipus, Gertrude opposite Rory Kinnear’s Hamlet and Linda Loman opposite Brian Dennehy in Death Of A Salesman.

Further casting for Other Desert Cities is yet to be announced.

Directed by Lindsay Posner, who last directed The Winslow Boy at the Old Vic, Other Desert Cities opens at the historic venue following the current production of Fortune’s Fool. The London premiere of Ivan Turgenev’s Russian satire, which stars Richard McCabe and Alexander Vlahos, runs until 2 February.

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