British film star Keira Knightley is set to make her West End debut this winter in Martin Crimp’s version of Molière’s The Misanthrope, alongside a star cast including Damian Lewis, Tara Fitzgerald, Dominic Rowan and Tim McMullen.
Opening at the Comedy theatre on 17 December (following previews from 7 December) and directed by Thea Sharrock, Crimp’s version of the classic comedy of manners sees the action transferred from 17th century Paris to modern-day London.
Famous playwright Alceste (Lewis) has become disillusioned and angry with the vanity and shallowness of the 21st century and vows to reject society as a result. However, when he meets ambitious American film star Jennifer (Knightley), his plans are derailed as his world is thrown off balance and it looks as if she might be his biggest challenge yet.
At 24, Knightley has already enjoyed a hugely successful film career both in Britain and Hollywood, first coming to the public’s attention in 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham. Now perhaps best known for her role of Elizabeth Swan in The Pirates Of The Caribbean series, Knightley has also starred in films including Atonement, The Duchess and Pride And Prejudice. The actress has recently finished filming Never Let Me Go and London Boulevard, both of which are due for release later this year.
Lewis was most recently seen on the London stage in the National Theatre’s Pillars Of The Community and Five Gold Rings at the Almeida theatre. He is arguably best known for his role in Steven Spielberg’s award-winning series Band Of Brothers, but has regularly been seen on screen in films including Dreamcatcher, An Unfinished Life and The Escapist and on TV in the BBC dramas The Forsythe Saga and Confessions Of A Diary Secretary.
Fitzgerald recently appeared in the Donmar Warehouse’s production of A Doll’s House, starring alongside Gillian Anderson. A successful TV, film and theatre actress, her other stage credits include And Then There Were None at the Gielgud theatre, A Streetcar Named Desire at the Bristol Old Vic and Hamlet at the Almeida theatre. On film, she has appeared in Five Children And It, I Capture The Castle and Brassed Off and she plays the regular role of Dr Eve Lockhart in the BBC’s drama series Waking The Dead.
Rowan’s extensive theatre credits include A Voyage Round My Father at the Donmar Warehouse, Happy Now? at the National Theatre, As You Like It at Shakespeare’s Globe, directed by Sharrock, and Way To Heaven at the Royal Court. He has also appeared on the small screen in programmes including Catwalk Dogs and Trial & Retribution.
Completing the cast, McMullan most recently appeared in As You Like It at Shakespeare’s Globe this summer, alongside Rowan. On the West End stage McMullan was seen in The Deep Blue Sea at the Vaudeville theatre, as well as boasting extensive credits at the National Theatre including Burnt By The Sun, The Alchemist and His Dark Materials. On screen he has appeared in films including The Queen, Shakespeare In Love and Sense & Sensibility.
Sharrock is currently in rehearsals at the Almeida theatre, directing the theatre’s revival of Nicholas Wright’s Mrs Klein. As well as directing Rowan and McMullan in As You Like It earlier this year, her work includes the Gielgud theatre and Broadway productions of Equus, Heroes at the Wyndham’s theatre, A Voyage Round My Father at the Donmar Warehouse and Happy Now?, The Emperor Jones and Free for the National Theatre.
The Misanthrope is currently booking until 13 March 2010.