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Hampstead announces new play is On The Rocks

First Published 19 May 2008, Last Updated 19 May 2008

On The Rocks will premiere at the Hampstead theatre on 1 July. Written by the award-winning playwright Amy Rosenthal, the play stars Ed Stoppard, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Charlotte Emmerson and Nick Caldecott.

Based on true events, On The Rocks tells the story of DH Lawrence (Stoppard) and his formidable wide Frieda (Oberman). Set in 1916, the married couple have recently moved to Zennor, an idyllic Cornish village. Caught up in the romantic ideals of the countryside, they convince their close friends and fellow writers Katherine Mansfield (Emmerson) and John Middleton Murry (Caldecott) to share their new lives with them. As the friends struggle to find creativity in the midst of the First World War, communal living proves more difficult than first expected and friendships and fidelity are tested.

The role of DH Lawrence will see Stoppard make his Hampstead debut. The son of playwright Tom Stoppard, he has previously appeared on the London stage in The Glass Menagerie at the Apollo. As well as playing Konstantin in the Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of The Seagull, Stoppard was seen as Henryk in Roman Polanski’s 2002 film The Pianist and appeared last year in the title role of the BBC drama Tchaikovsky: Fortune And Tragedy.

Oberman is arguably best known for her role as the murderess Chrissie Watts in BBC soap opera EastEnders. Earlier this year the actress turned playwright when her co-written drama Three Sisters On Hope Street ran at the Hampstead. Her stage credits include Boeing Boeing at the Comedy and The Wife at the National Theatre.

Emmerson’s numerous stage credits include Thérèse Raquin, The Coast of Utopia, The Good Hope and The Cherry Orchard at the National Theatre and Great Expectations at the Royal Exchange, Manchester. Completing the co-habitating quartet is Caldecott who has previously appeared in She Stoops To Conquer at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton and The Importance Of Being Earnest in the role of Algernon at the Derby Playhouse.

Writer Rosenthal’s credits include Sitting Pretty, her debut play which premiered at the Chelsea Theatre before transferring to the Hypothetical Theatre in New York, Henna Night, which won the Sunday Times Drama Award in 1999, and A Handbag, written in November 2007 for the Old Vic’s 24 Hour Plays celebrity gala event. This is the second time her work has shown at the Hampstead, having made her debut in 2007 with Thank God It’s Friday, a short piece co-written with Cosh Omar.

Direction comes from Clare Lizzimore who last year worked for the National Theatre as Staff Director. She recently directed Shoot/ Get Treasure/ Repeat, Mark Ravenhill’s cycle of short plays. Joining Lizzimore on the production’s creative team are designer Paul Burgess, lighting designer Jon Clark and sound designer Edward Lewis.

On The Rocks opens at Hampstead on 1 July after previews from 26 June, and runs until 26 July.

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