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Stellar cast gathers Under The Blue Sky

First Published 9 May 2008, Last Updated 9 May 2008

Francesca Annis, Lisa Dillon, Chris O’Dowd, Dominic Rowan and Catherine Tate are among the cast for the West End premiere of Under The Blue Sky.

David Eldridge’s tale of connected love stories, which was first staged at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in September 2000, opens at the Duke of York’s on 25 July and is booking until 20 September. Previews begin on 15 July.

The relationships in Eldridge’s play explore the rollercoaster ride of lust in its prime, the sacrifices of a life in public service and unrequited passions. Uncertainties, misunderstanding and the unsaid lead to unexpected results for three couples who seem destined never to say the right thing.

Under The Blue Sky will be a reunion for actresses Annis and Dillon, who both starred in the BBC’s award-winning costume drama Cranford, in which they played Lady Ludlow and Mary Smith.

Annis was last seen in London starring in Epitaph For George Dillon, and has previously appeared in Henry IV and The Vortex at the Donmar Warehouse, and Mrs Klein at the National Theatre. Dillon’s work at the National includes Present Laughter and The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other, while elsewhere she has been seen in Period Of Adjustment, Hedda Gabler (Almeida), Othello (RSC) and The Master Builder (Noel Coward).

Tate is best known for her catchphrase-packed comic capers in her self-titled award-winning BBC sketch show, though she can currently be seen saving the universe as Dr Who’s companion Donna. Her last West End appearance came opposite David Schwimmer in 2005’s Some Girl(s), and she has also appeared in The Prince’s Play, The Way Of The World (National Theatre) and A Servant To Two Masters (RSC).

O’Dowd, who makes his West End debut in Under The Blue Sky, is also best known for television comedy, starring in series including The IT Crowd and Roman’s Empire.

London stage regular Rowan has a host of credits to his name, including The Merchant Of Venice and Two Gentlemen Of Verona for the RSC, A Voyage Round My Father and Lobby Hero for the Donmar Warehouse, and Mourning Becomes Electra, The Talking Cure, Three Sisters and, most recently, Happy Now? for the National.

Under The Blue Sky is directed by Anna Mackmin, whose last London work, In Celebration, was also staged at the Duke of York’s. Mackmin has also presided over productions including Dying For It, The Lightning Play (both Almeida), Breathing Corpses, Food Chain (both Royal Court), The Dark (Donmar Warehouse) and Auntie And Me (Wyndham’s).

Under The Blue Sky follows the transfer of That Face at the Duke of York’s. The award-winning first full length piece by young playwright Polly Stenham was, like Eldridge’s work, first seen at the Royal Court. Lindsay Duncan stars in the tale of a dysfunctional family with a manipulative mother at its centre. That Face runs until 5 July.

MA

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