Spiro to star in new Almeida season

Published September 30, 2011

The Almeida theatre has announced its 2012 season will feature Bijan Sheibani’s The House Of Bernarda Alba, a new version of Filumena starring Samantha Spiro, and the world premiere of Matthew Dunster’s Children’s Children.

The shows will precede the previously confirmed Michael Attenborough directed production of King Lear in August, which will star award-winning actor Jonathan Pryce in the title role.

In a new version by Emily Mann, The House Of Bernarda Alba runs from 19 January to 10 March, facing the press on 26 January. The Iran-set drama will star Emmy Award-winning Iranian screen actress Shohreh Aghdashloo who will make her British stage debut in the production.

The play is set following Bernarda Alba’s husband’s funeral. The powerful matriarch declares that she and her five daughters will enter into a period of eight years mourning, but in the strict confines of the house, jealousy and suppressed sexuality rise to the surface. As Bernarda’s oppression of her daughters increases, it is more than the girls’ liberty that is in danger.

Aghdashlo is best known for her award-winning role in the BBC/HBO mini-series House Of Saddam. Her other screen credits include television appearances on 24, ER and Will & Grace and films including The Stoning Of Soraya M, The Lake House, X-Men: The Last Stand and House Of Sand And Fog, for which she was named Best Supporting Actress by the Independent Spirit Awards, New York Film Critics and Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

The House Of Bernarda Alba is followed by Tanya Ronder’s new version of De Filippo’s Filumena which will begin previews on 15 March (press night 22 March).

Directed by the Almeida theatre’s Artistic Director Michael Attenborough, the play is set in the balmy heat of late 1940s Naples. Filumena Marturano lies on her deathbed waiting to marry Domenico Soriano, the man who has kept her as his mistress for 25 years. But no sooner has the priest completed the ceremony than Filumena makes a miraculous recovery. As he reels in shock, Domenico discovers that this brilliant, iron-willed woman has a few more surprises for him.

Oliver Award-winning actress Spiro makes her Almeida theatre debut in the title role. Most recently seen on the London stage in the Royal Court theatre’s critically acclaimed Chicken Soup With Barley, her extensive theatre credits include Hello, Dolly!, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It and Macbeth for the Regent’s Park Open Air theatre, Twelfth Night for the Donmar Warehouse at Wyndham’s theatre, and Two Thousand Years and Cleo, Camping, Emanuelle And Dick for the National Theatre.

Playwright, director and actor Dunster’s latest offering, Children’s Children, will play at the venue from 17 May to 30 June (press night 24 May). The play centres on two acting college friends, 20 years after they have left student life behind. Now Michael is Mr Saturday Night TV while failing actor Gordon is struggling with enormous debts. When Gordon asks Michael to lend him a large sum of money, it sets in motion a series of events that reveal irreparable cracks in the characters’ relationships.

Children’s Children will be directed by Jeremy Herrin, Associate Director of the Royal Court. His work at the Sloane Square venue includes The Vertical Hour and the award-winning That Face. Dunster’s new play marks Herrin’s Almeida theatre directorial debut.

The season ends with Pryce’s much-anticipated appearance in one of Shakespeare’s most-loved plays, King Lear. The Attenborough directed production will play from 31 August to 3 November and face the press on 11 September.

CM