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Stevenson and Goodman launch Almeida new year

Published October 14, 2008

Juliet Stevenson and Henry Goodman will kick off 2009 at the Almeida theatre by starring in two-hander Duet For One from 22 January. The Islington venue’s year-long new progamme continues with premieres from Jez Butterworth, Andrew Bovell, Christopher Hampton and Samuel Adamson and a revival of Patrick Hamilton’s thriller Rope.

Matthew Lloyd is to direct Tom Kempinski’s 1980 play Duet For One (22 January to 14 March, press night 29 January), which centres on celebrated concert violinist Stephanie Abrahams, who is forced to rethink her career and her life after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her husband, a successful composer, encourages her to see a psychiatrist, Dr Feldmann, whose questioning forces Stephanie to consider a future without music.

Goodman returns to the Almeida, where he previously appeared in The Hypochondriac, to play the psychiatrist. A hugely experienced stage actor who has won Laurence Olivier Awards for both dramatic and musical theatre roles, Goodman has worked extensively at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, where his credits include Guys And Dolls, The Merchant Of Venice and Angels In America. He created the role of Billy Flynn in Chicago in the West End and most recently played the lead role of Tevye in Sheffield Theatres’ acclaimed revival of Fiddler On The Roof at the Savoy.

Film and stage actress Stevenson makes her Almeida debut as Stephanie. Her many London theatre credits include The Seagull and Private Lives at the National Theatre, Alice Trilogy and The Country at the Royal Court, We Happy Few at the Gielgud and Death And The Maiden at the Royal Court and Duke of York’s, for which she won the 1992 Actress of the Year Laurence Olivier Award. On film, Stevenson’s work includes Truly, Madly, Deeply, Breaking And Entering, Being Julia, Mona Lisa Smile and Bend It Like Beckham.

Following Duet For One, former Royal Court Artistic Director Ian Rickson will direct the first UK production of Jez Butterworth’s comedy Parlour Song (19 March to 9 May, press night 26 March), which premiered in New York earlier this year.

The play follows married couple Ned and Joy – he a demolition expert, she a housewife. They live in a house adjoined to 78 other identical houses, and enjoy an occasional game of Scrabble. But Ned has a recurring dream and a recurring problem: things keep disappearing. Parlour Song explores what happens when two ordinary people realise they hate who they have become.

Butterworth’s previous plays include the Laurence Olivier Award-winning Mojo, The Night Heron and The Winterling, all of which were directed by Rickson at the Royal Court. Rickson’s other recent work includes The Seagull at the Royal Court and Pinter’s The Hothouse at the National Theatre.

Almeida Artistic Director Michael Attenborough directs the venue’s next production, the European premiere of Australian playwright Andrew Bovell’s When The Rain Stops Falling (14 May to 4 July, press night 21 May).

An epic play spanning four generations and two continents, When The Rain Stops Falling weaves together the interconnected stories of seven people, moving from the claustrophobia of a 1950s London flat to the windswept coast of Southern Australia and into the heart of the desert.

Bovell is an award-winning writer for theatre, film and television whose credits include the films Lantana and Strictly Ballroom (co-written with Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce) and the plays Speaking In Tongues, Shades Of Blue and Scenes From A Separation.

The Almeida’s new season continues into autumn 2009 with Christopher Hampton’s new adaptation of Austrian playwright Ödön Von Horváth’s Judgment Day (4 September to 17 October, press night 10 September).

Written and set in 1937 in a small village in Austria, Judgment Day centres on diligent railway station master Thomas Hudetz, a well respected member of his local community. That is until the charms of flirtatious young Anna distract him from operating the signals and a tragedy occurs. The small town seeks a culprit, but it seems only Anna knows the truth about the conscientious station master.

Hampton has previously adapted several of Von Horváth’s plays including Tales From The Vienna Woods. A frequent collaborator with French playwright Yasmina Reza, Hampton has adapted her plays Conversations After A Burial, Art and God Of Carnage for the London stage, the latter of which played in the West End earlier this year. Hampton is also the author of the award-winning original play Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which he adapted into a film, and the recent screenplay Atonement.

Judgment Day is directed by James Macdonald, whose theatre work includes The Triumph Of Love at the Almeida, The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other at the National Theatre and Glengarry Glen Ross at the Apollo.

Indhu Rubasingham returns to the Almeida, where she previously directed Chain Play II, to direct the world premiere of Samuel Adamson’s new play A Quiet Island (22 October to 5 December, press night 29 October).

On a remote Greek island teenager Vick is searching for her father, a music icon who walked out of a family party five years ago and vanished. On the same island, Sean and his wife Charlotte are trying to recover from the recent accidental death of their child. A brief encounter hurtles Sean into a cyber world of die hard fans and a dangerous obsession with Vick, a girl out of control.

Adamson’s plays Southwark Fair, Clocks And Whistles and Grace Note have all been staged in London in recent years, while Mrs Affleck plays at the National Theatre in January. His work also includes adaptations of Ibsen’s Pillars Of The Community and Pedro Almodovar’s film All About My Mother, which was staged at the Old Vic last year. Director Rubasingham has previously staged Free Outgoing, Sugar Mummies and Club Land at the Royal Court, and Fabulation at the Tricycle.

Director Roger Michell takes the Almeida into 2010 with his revival of Patrick Hamilton’s classic thriller Rope (10 December 2009 to 30 January 2010, press night 16 December).

Inspired by the real life murder of a young boy in 1920 by two students, Rope is set in a Mayfair apartment where Wyndham Brandon and Charles Granillo have murdered their fellow student and stuffed his body into a chest in their living room. Believing they are above common morality, they invite the student’s father, aunt and several of their friends over for tea, served on the chest.

Rope premiered in 1929 and was made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1948. Another of Hamilton’s plays, Gaslight, was produced at the Old Vic in 2007. Rope’s director Michell recently directed Female Of The Species at the Vaudeville and has credits including Betrayal and Old Times at the Donmar Warehouse, Honour, Landscape With Weapon, Blue/Orange and The Homecoming for the National Theatre and My Night With Reg at the Royal Court. Also experienced behind the camera, Michell has directed the films Venus, Enduring Love and Notting Hill.

The Almeida’s comprehensive forward planning also includes the announcement that Attenborough is to direct a new production of Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure in 2010, for which exact dates and further details are to be confirmed.

Currently playing at the Almeida is Harley Granville Barker’s Waste, which runs to 15 November before the final production of 2008, Neil LaBute’s In A Dark Dark House, plays from 20 November to 17 January.

Casting for all 2009 production is yet to be announced.

CB  

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