Holmes reveals first Lyric Hammersmith season

Published June 3, 2009

Sean Holmes’s first season as Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith is to include revivals of Comedians and Three Sisters alongside premieres of new work by Simon Stephens, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman.

The season also sees the traditional panto return to the Lyric Hammersmith, with Jack And The Beanstalk running over the festive season, and the Lyric Studio placed entirely in the hands of young theatre makers and emerging artists.

Speaking about his new era in charge of the West London venue, Holmes commented: “I’ve always loved the Lyric and I love it even more since becoming Artistic Director. The commitment of the staff, the groundbreaking work with young people, the scruffy beauty of the auditorium, the blossoming of our new garden all provoke real excitement in me on our collective journey over the next few years. The journey for audiences begins with this new season of plays which embrace and celebrate our proscenium.”

The season is topped and tailed by premieres. Laurence Olivier Award-winner Simon Stephens’s new play Punk Rock opens in September, directed by the co-Artistic Director of the Manchester Royal Exchange, Sarah Frankcom. Drawing on his experience as a teacher, it exposes the dislocation, disjunction and violence simmering under the surface of a group of articulate, aspirational young people.

The season closes in the spring of 2010 with an evening of Ghost Stories created by Jeremy Dyson, co-writer of the dark cult-comedy series The League Of Gentlemen, and actor/magician Andy Nyman, who appeared in hit Channel 4 series Dead Set and co-writes and co-directs Derren Brown’s shows for television and stage.

Holmes’s first directorial duty comes in October, when he revives Trevor Griffiths’s Comedians with a cast including Matthew Kelly, David Dawson and Mark Benton. Laurence Olivier Award-winner Kelly will join the cast having spent his summer at Shakespeare’s Globe, appearing in Troilus And Cressida. The former Stars In Their Eyes host also appeared in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? at the Trafalgar Studios earlier this year.

Dawson, who has previously played Romeo for the Royal Shakespeare Company, worked with Holmes on the Old Vic production of The Entertainer, while Benton returns to the stage for the first time in eight years, having spent that time appearing in television shows including Northern Lights, The Street and Murphy’s Law.

Holmes also renews his collaboration with Filter, the theatre company with which he has directed versions of Twelfth Night and Caucasian Chalk Circle. The company, renowned for its use of live and recorded music, is to strip back Chekhov’s famous Three Sisters in early 2010.

While Jack And The Beanstalk is billed as a return to traditional pantomime, it may hold a few surprises as it is written by a quartet of diverse writers: Richard Bean courted controversy with his last stage offering for the National Theatre, England People Very Nice; Jocelyn Jee Esien is best known for her sketch show work on 3 Non Blondes and Little Miss Jocelyn; Joel Horwood is the writer behind “chav” musical Mikey The Pikey; and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, one third of cult comedy group Trippplicate, was a contributer to the Bush theatre’s 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover At Christmas.

“There’s work to provoke, to chill, to surprise and to amuse. New writing, classics with a twist, ghost stories and the rebirth of Panto at the Lyric,” Holmes concluded.

MA