Henry, Hinds and Hodge in NT autumn/winter

Published September 2, 2011

The National Theatre’s autumn/winter season is to feature a debut performance by Lenny Henry, along with Sinéad Cusack and Ciáran Hinds in Juno And The Paycock and a new play by Trainspotting screenwriter John Hodge.

Henry leads a cast that also includes Claudie Blakely, Lucian Msamati and Michelle Terry in The Comedy Of Errors, which plays in the Olivier theatre from 22 November.

The comedian, who won an Evening Standard Outstanding Newcomer Award in 2009 for his Shakespearean debut in Othello, plays one of a pair of twins in Shakespeare’s comedy of identity and confusion. The production also marks the National Theatre debut of Dominic Cooke, Artistic Director of the Royal Court.

Cusack and Hinds star on the Lyttelton stage, where the Howard Davies-directed production of Juno And The Paycock runs from 11 November. Sean O’Casey’s tragic tale of life in a Dublin ripped apart by the Irish War of Independence, which features Hinds as the unemployed Jack Boyle and Cusack as the long-suffering Juno, is the National Theatre’s first co-production with the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and will open the Dublin Theatre Festival later this month before moving to London.

Hodge’s new play Collaborators reunites National Theatre stalwarts Alex Jennings and Simon Russell Beale in a tale set in 1938 Moscow, where writer Mikhail Bulgakov (Jennings) is commissioned to write a play about Stalin (Beale) to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Collaborators, which depicts a lethal game of cat and mouse, is directed by the NT’s Artistic Director Nicholas Hytner, who previously directed Jennings and Beale in The Alchemist. Playwright Hodge is better known for his screenplays, which include the Danny Boyle-directed films Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary and The Beach.

Collaborators runs in the Cottesloe theatre from 25 October, where it is joined between 7 December and 3 January by The Animals And Children Took To The Streets. A mix of music, performance, storytelling, film and animation, it is set in a sprawling, stinking, feared tenement block into which come Agnes Eaves and her daughter.

The newly announced shows join an autumn/winter line up that already includes Mike Leigh’s as yet untitled new play, Conor McPherson’s new drama The Veil, performances of extracts of the King James Bible, Daniel Kitson’s solo show It’s Always Right Now Until It’s Later, the world premiere of Mike Bartlett’s 13, a revival of Arnold Wesker’s The Kitchen and Jonathan Miller’s staging of Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

Forthcoming NT Live dates have also been announced. Fans can see productions screened live in cinemas on 15 September (One Man, Two Guvnors), 6 October (The Kitchen), 1 December (Collaborators) and 1 March 2012 (The Comedy Of Errors).

MA