Nigel Harman, James Dreyfus and Reece Shearsmith are to star in a revival of Simon Gray’s comedy about friendship, The Common Pursuit, at the Menier Chocolate Factory from 9 May to 20 July (press night 27 May).
Gray’s play follows a group of Cambridge undergraduates who launch a literary publication called The Common Pursuit. Fresh, determined and gifted, their joint venture brings them together in friendship, hope and the promise of a bright future. But as the years go by, the friends find it hard to stay true to the ideals of their youth in the world beyond.
Harman, Dreyfus and Shearsmith have all been regular faces on the London stage of late. Harman – who is well known for playing Dennis Rickman in the soap EastEnders – was last seen in a revival of Pinter’s The Caretaker at the Tricycle in 2007. His previous credits include Guys And Dolls at the Piccadilly and Privates On Parade at the Donmar Warehouse.
Dreyfus is familiar to television viewers for his roles in comedy series Gimme Gimme Gimme and The Thin Blue Line. On stage, he was the first Emcee in Bill Kenwright’s recent revival of Kander and Ebb’s musical Cabaret at the Lyric. Previous to that he appeared in Donkeys’ Years at the Comedy and The Producers at the Drury Lane.
Shearsmith also starred in The Producers in the West End in 2006. Best known as one third of The League Of Gentlemen, Shearsmith and fellow writers and performers Mark Gatiss and Steve Pemberton translated their peculiar brand of comedy into a live stage show in 2002, and also teamed up to star in three-hander Art at the Whitehall (now Trafalgar Studios) in 2003. Shearsmith’s other stage credits include As You Like It at the Wyndham’s in 2005.
The rest of the cast is Robert Portal (The 39 Steps at the Criterion), Ben Caplan (Two Thousand Years at the National) and Mary Stockley (TV’s Ballet Shoes). They are directed by Fiona Laird, who most recently directed Stephen Fry’s pantomime Cinderella at the Old Vic.
Playwright Gray’s other plays include Otherwise Engaged – which ran at the Criterion in 2005 – Butley, Quartermaine’s Terms and The Old Masters.
Currently playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory is Maria Friedman: Rearranged, in which West End star and Laurence Olivier Award-winner Friedman performs some of her favourite musical tunes. The show runs until 4 May.