The Last Cigarette comes to London

Published March 27, 2009

Richard Eyre’s production of The Last Cigarette will transfer from Chichester Festival Theatre to London’s Trafalgar Studio 1 on 21 April (press night 28 April), where it runs until 1 August.

Felicity Kendal, Nicholas La Prevost and Jasper Britton all transfer with the production, recreating their performances in Simon Gray and Hugh Whitemore’s stage adaptation of Gray’s multi-volume memoirs, which draw on his relationship with smoking while battling cancer. Completed shortly before the playwright’s death last year, The Last Cigarette is a sardonic, intelligent and funny drama which shows Gray facing his own mortality with unflinching courage and defiant humanity.

Kendal is no stranger to the London stage, with numerous appearances over the years in productions including Tom Stoppard’s Jumpers, The Real Thing, Hapgood, Arcadia and Indian Ink, plus Amy’s View, Hidden Laughter, Tartuffe and, most recently, The Vortex at the Apollo theatre in 2008. She is also well known for her television roles in The Good Life, Solo, Honey For Tea, The Camomile Lawn and Rosemary And Thyme.

Le Prevost was recently seen in Peter Hall’s production of Uncle Vanya at the Rose theatre, Kingston, and has a plethora of previous London stage credits including The Philadelphia Story at the Old Vic, The Wild Duck at the Donmar Warehouse and My Fair Lady at the National Theatre, for which he was Laurence Olivier Award-nominated. His screen credits include the films Shakespeare In Love, Land Girls and Clockwise.

Britton has had a busy 12 months, appearing in productions of Private Lives at the Hampstead theatre, Plague Over England at the Finborough theatre and Fram and Oedipus at the National Theatre. He has previously appeared in two plays by Gray – Japes and Becket – and has other stage credits including Bedroom Farce at the Aldwych theatre and Little Shop Of Horrors at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Late playwright Gray is the author of works including Butley, Otherwise Engaged, Quatermaine’s Terms, Hidden Laughter and The Common Pursuit. Whitemore, who co-adapted Gray’s memoirs, has written Stevie, Pack Of Lies, Breaking The Code and an adaptation of Pirandello’s As You Desire Me.

The Last Cigarette plays at Trafalgar Studios following Entertaining Mr Sloane, which ends its run on 11 April, and opens a new season at the Whitehall venue which already includes – in Studio 2 – productions of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? and Ordinary Dreams, which follow New Boy.

The season in Studio 2 continues with Orwell – A Celebration (8 June to 4 July), a theatrical appreciation of author George Orwell. Adapted for the stage by Telegraph critic Dominic Cavendish, the evening includes excerpts from Orwell’s Coming Up For Air and Nineteen-Eighty-Four alongside other works.

Also announced today is Eight (6 to 25 July), the Edinburgh Festival hit in which the audience chooses its company of actors and selects four from eight monologues that offer a group portrait of Britain’s youth.  

CB