Olivier Award-winning star of stage and screen Chiwetel Ejiofor will return to London theatre in 2013 to lead the cast of the Young Vic’s A Season In The Congo, directed by BAFTA winner Joe Wright.
The show, a drama charting the rise and fall of charismatic leader Patrice Lumumba, is the summer centrepiece of a season that spans opera, old favourites, new productions and drama from across the world.
Ejiofor, star of films Dirty Pretty Things and Children Of Men, will play the Congolese leader in the UK premiere of Aimé Césaire’s play, which tells the story of the 1960 Congo rebellion and the demise of the political leader in three acts. It will be the second show to be directed by Anna Karenina director Wright in 2013, following Trelawny Of The Wells at the Donmar Warehouse.
The Waterloo venue’s season opens in January with Feast, a celebration of Yoruba culture featuring the work of five world playwrights and overseen by Cabaret director Rufus Norris. The story, a tale of three sisters separated at a crossroads by a trickster, travels from 18th century Nigeria to Brazil, Cuba, the US and 2013 UK.
Feast is followed by a duo of Ibsens, the return of the acclaimed production of A Doll’s House starring Hattie Morahan and Dominic Rowan, and a new production of Public Enemy, directed by Richard Jones.
A Doll’s House, Ibsen’s tale of a woman with a secret that threatens to bring her world crashing down around her, played at the Young Vic earlier this summer, when it proved so popular that its run was extended.
Public Enemy, which sees director Jones return to the venue where he previously directed The Government Inspector and Annie Get Your Gun, is the story of Dr Stockmann, who discovers the waters of a new public spa are toxic. Instead of gratitude and glory he becomes the most hated man in town.
Opera returns to the Young Vic in September, when it collaborates with The Opera Group, Scottish Opera and Bregenzer Festspiele to stage Olga Neuwirth’s American Lulu, a reimagining of Alban Berg’s unfinished Lulu that sets the piece in the jazz clubs of the Deep South against the backdrop of the civil rights movement.
In the Young Vic’s smaller Maria theatre, Fevered Sleep (On Ageing, And The Rain Falls Down) returns with Above Me The Wide Blue Sky, a new production using film, a soundscape of birdsong, electronic music, a string quartet and words to explore what happens when, if who we are and what we call home is inextricably linked with nature, everything starts to change.
Also returning to the Maria is Kathryn Hunter, who has appeared in both Kafka’s Money and Fragments at the Waterloo venue. Hunter will direct Paul Hunter and Edward Petherbridge in My Perfect Mind, a new production by inventive theatre company Told By An Idiot, which explores the time in Petherbridge’s life when a stroke changed his world. In the space of 24 hours he went from rehearsing King Lear to being unable to move his thumb and index finger together.
The announcement comes at a time when the Young Vic is enjoying much success with another production that has proved so popular that its run has been extended, Benedict Andrew’s new production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, which runs until 3 November. The following months will see the return of two other previous hits, the food-flinging The Changeling and the atmospheric Going Dark.