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McGann joins Globe’s Helen

Published 16 June 2009

Paul McGann is to return to the London stage this summer in Frank McGuinness’s new version of Helen at Shakespeare’s Globe.

He joins the previously announced Pennie Downie in a cast that also includes Holly Atkins, Philip Cumbus, Jack Farthing, Diveen Henry, James Lailey, Penny Layden, Fergal McElherron, Rawiri Paratene, William Purefoy, Ian Redford, Ukweli Roach, Tom Stuart, Graham Vick and Andrew Vincent.

McGann, who plays Menelaus in Helen, Shakespeare’s Globe’s first full-scale Greek drama, is best known for his screen work in shows such as True Dare Kiss, Hornblower and The Hanging Gale, and films including Alien III and Withnail And I. His last stage performance came in 2005, when he appeared in The Gigli Concert at Finborough theatre, though his credits also include performances at the National Theatre, Royal Court and in the West End.  

The majority of the cast is drawn from the venue’s current production of Romeo And Juliet, though the famous tragedy’s leads, Ellie Kendrick and Adetomiwa Edun, stick to playing the star-crossed lovers.

Only Henry, Purefoy and Downie are drawn from outside the Romeo And Juliet cast. Henry has a wealth of Royal Court credits to her name and appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company productions of The Comedy Of Errors and Twelfth Night. Countertenor Purefoy returns to Shakespeare’s Globe, where his previous credits include The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Downie, the only confirmed cast member before today’s announcement, counts Hamlet, The Penelopiad (both RSC) and Dinner (National Theatre) among her many credits.

Euripides’s Helen tells the story of King Menelaus who, on his return from the Trojan War, is shipwrecked on the coast of Egypt and stumbles upon a woman who seems to be his wife. But if she is the real Helen, who was the woman stolen by Paris, for whom all Greece went to war?

Helen is the fifth production in Shakespeare’s Globe’s 2009 season, which also includes Romeo And Juliet, The Frontline, As You Like It, Troilus And Cressida, A New World – A Life Of Thomas Paine and Love’s Labour’s Lost.



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