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Jacobi plays Lear in Donmar new season

Published 19 February 2010

Derek Jacobi is to play King Lear at the Donmar Warehouse in December this year.

Jacobi, who last year won a Laurence Olivier Award for playing Malvolio in the Donmar’s production of Twelfth Night at the Wyndham’s theatre, will again be directed by the venue’s Artistic Director Michael Grandage as he takes on the iconic title role in Shakespeare’s King Lear, which plays at the Donmar from 3 December 2010 to 5 February 2011 (press night 7 December).

The acclaimed classical actor, whose career in the theatre spans five decades, has previously worked with Grandage on productions of Don Carlos and The Tempest, and starred in the Donmar’s A Voyage Round My Father.

King Lear will round off a new season at the venue which also includes Elena Roger in a production of Sondheim and Lapine’s 1994 musical Passion, a revival of Simon Gray’s The Late Middle Classes and Dennis Kelly’s version of Heinrich von Kleist’s The Prince Of Homburg.

Argentinean actress Roger returns to the Donmar – where she previously played Edith Piaf to Laurence Olivier Award-winning effect – to star in Passion from 10 September to 27 November (press night 21 September), which plays as part of a season celebrating the 80th birthday of composer Stephen Sondheim.

Sondheim commented: “My association with the Donmar Warehouse has been a joy from its inception in 1992 with Assassins through its productions of Company, Merrily We Roll Along, Into the Woods and Pacific Overtures. Our collaborations over the years have been professionally fulfilling and personally gratifying and now I’m honoured and thrilled that they are presenting Passion to help celebrate my 80th birthday. There is no venue, or team of artists, that I would rather have produce the piece.”

Piaf director Jamie Lloyd’s production of this tale of obsessive love will be accompanied by concert performances of Sondheim’s Company and Merrily We Roll Along, and two discussion evenings centring on Sondheim’s work, one with the composer himself.

Before that, Donmar regular Helen McCrory returns to the venue to play Celia in Gray’s The Late Middle Classes from 27 May to 17 July (press night 1 June). Gray’s funny, melancholic drama centres on a young boy who is trapped between two types of oppressive love, revealing the frustration, secrets and guilt of middle class respectability in 1950s England.

Gray’s piece is followed from 22 July to 4 September (press night 27 July) by German playwright Von Kleist’s The Prince Of Homburg, in a new version by Dennis Kelly, to be staged by the creative team behind last year’s Life Is A Dream.

Ian McDiarmid (Be Near Me, John Gabriel Borkman at the Donmar) and Charlie Cox (The Lover & The Collection in the West End) star in this 19th century play which explores honour, courage, ambition and love as it tells of the consequences of the glory-hunting Prince of Homburg’s reckless disobedience during a crucial military operation.

The newly announced productions are preceded by Mark Haddon’s debut play Polar Bears (1 April to 22 May, press night 6 April), for which further casting has now been announced. Celia Imrie (Acorn Antiques, Plague Over England), Paul Hilton (The Wild Duck at the Donmar), David Leon, Skye Bennett and Alice Sykes join Jodhi May and Richard Coyle in this tale of one man’s struggle to love, support and live with someone suffering from a psychological condition. 

While the Donmar forges ahead with the new season at its Covent Garden base, the reach of the venue extends into the West End and abroad. The newly announced Donmar Trafalgar programme will occupy the Trafalgar Studios for 12 weeks later this year, while the venue’s recent productions of Red and Creditors transfer in New York.

Currently playing at the Donmar is Lanford Wilson’s Serenading Louie, which runs until 27 March prior to a UK tour.



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