facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen. #IMissTheatre

Premieres line up in National new season

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 17 April 2008

Jeremy Irons is to make his National Theatre debut playing former British PM Harold Macmillan in a new drama by Howard Brenton, Never So Good, which opens in the Lyttelton on 19 March.

The news was revealed by the National’s Artistic Director, Nicholas Hytner, at a press conference to announce the venue’s forthcoming season, which includes many new plays alongside several classics. In addition to Brenton’s new play, the National will premiere new work by Michael Frayn, Tony Harrison, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Samuel Adamson and Simon Stephens, in a season which Hytner described as having “a very good chance of being largely marvellous”.

Howard Davies (Present Laughter) returns to the National to direct Never So Good, in which Irons, who was last seen in the West End in Embers, stars opposite Ian McNeice as Winston Churchill. Hytner described Brenton’s new play, which was commissioned by the National, as an exploration of democratic politics and the compromises required by those in power.

The season in the Lyttelton continues with David Hare directing Vanessa Redgrave in Joan Didion’s memoir The Year Of Magical Thinking, which opens on 30 April, followed in June by a new play by Frayn (Copenhagen, Noises Off, Donkeys’ Years), Afterlife, which explores the life of the Austrian founder of the Salzburg Festival, Max Reinhardt. Michael Blakemore directs.

Later in the year, in addition to the already announced collaboration between Akram Khan and Juliette Binoche, scheduled for September, Harold Pinter’s A Slight Ache will be produced for a run of early evening performances during the summer, with a cast including Simon Russell Beale (currently in Much Ado About Nothing). October sees DV8 return to the National with a new work by Lloyd Newson, To Be Straight With You.

In the Olivier theatre, the Travelex £10 season continues beyond the forthcoming Major Barbara with Fram, a new play by Tony Harrison, which opens on 17 April. Telling the story of Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, Fram has a cast including Jasper Britton and Sian Thomas, and is directed by Harrison and Bob Crowley.

Rory Kinnear (Philistines, The Man Of Mode) stars in the third play in the Travelex season, Thomas Middleton’s Elizabethan play The Revenger’s Tragedy, which Melly Still (Coram Boy) directs in June. In July, Davies continues his stay at the National by directing Lenkiewicz’s new play Her Naked Skin, set against the backdrop of the Suffragette movement, while August sees a revival of Tom Stoppard and André Previn’s 1977 symphonic drama Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, co-produced by the National and the Southbank Sinfonia.

As previously announced, the Olivier welcomes Ralph Fiennes to the stage in October, as he plays the title role in Frank McGuinness’s new version of Sophocles’s Oedipus, directed by Jonathan Kent. November brings another chance to catch 2007’s Christmas hit, War Horse. This adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, which is currently playing until 14 February, is brought to life using life-sized horse puppets by the Handspring Puppet Company.

The National continues its commitment to new work in the Cottesloe with two new plays, a new devised show and one transfer of a new play – Lee Hall’s The Pitmen Painters, which premiered in Newcastle in 2007.

Director Marianne Elliott (Saint Joan) stages both of those new plays. Firstly, in April, she directs Lesley Sharp in Harper Regan, a new play by Simon Stephens, who won the Best New Play Laurence Olivier Award in 2006 for On The Shore Of the Wide World, which also premiered in the Cottesloe. Elliott returns to the Cottesloe in November to direct Mrs Affleck, a new play by Samuel Adamson (Southwark Fair) based on Ibsen’s Little Eyolf.

In July, National regular Katie Mitchell (Women Of Troy, Waves) creates a new production based on Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, with a cast including Ben Whishaw (recently seen in the film Perfume), who last worked with Mitchell on her pared-down production of Chekhov’s The Seagull in the Lyttelton in 2006. Mitchell’s 2006 show Waves, based on Virginia Woolf’s novel, also returns the Cottesloe for a limited run this August.

Speaking about the season as a whole, Hytner commented: “2008 will be the most ambitious year since I became the National's director. It will be marked above all by the extraordinary confidence of British playwriting, which is in evidence all over the country, at theatres large and small. We have four new plays from the current great generation of major English playwrights, and eight from their successors. Many of them are on an epic scale, and they share the repertoire with an unprecedented profusion of classics, devised shows, physical theatre and dance theatre. The National is only part of a surge of creative energy throughout the British theatre and I'm looking forward to seeing the results on our stages.”

Looking further ahead to 2009, Hytner announced plans to premiere David Hare’s new work, Gethsemane, directed by Howard Davies, while the director-actor team of Deborah Warner and Fiona Shaw follow last year’s Happy Days with a production of Brecht’s Mother Courage.

CB

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.