Wesker, Bartlett and McPherson in NT autumn

Published June 3, 2011

Arnold Wesker’s The Kitchen, new plays by Mike Bartlett and Conor McPherson, an Edinburgh hit from Daniel Kitson and Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion have been added to the National Theatre’s summer/autumn line up.

Wesker’s The Kitchen, which plays as part of the Travelex £12 season in the Olivier from 31 August, is set in a 1950s West End restaurant, where staff from across Europe are thrown together in a pressurised environment. Young cook Peter, who will be played at the National by Tom Brooke, dreams of a better life and manages to embark on an affair with a married waitress, but in the clamour of the kitchen nothing is ever far from the brink of collapse.

The Kitchen, which is directed by NT Associate Director Bijan Sheibani, is joined in the Olivier by Bartlett’s 13. The latest play from the writer of Earthquakes In London, 13 is set in the present where, across the capital, people wake from an identical terrifying dream. In this world of economic gloom and ineffective protest, one man returns with a vision for the future and begins to rally support. The nature of belief and the meaning of personal responsibility are explored amid the landscape of a London both recognisable and alien. Thea Sharrock, who had such success with her award-winning National Theatre production of Rattigan’s After The Dance, returns to the South Bank to direct 13, which runs from 18 October.

McPherson, whose last NT offering The Seafarer collected a host of awards, returns with The Veil, a tale set in 1822 rural Ireland in a haunted house at which the defrocked Reverend Berkeley is moved to hold an inadvisable séance. McPherson directs his own show, which begins performances in the Lyttelton on 27 September with a cast including Jim Norton, who collected both Olivier and Tony Awards for his performance in The Seafarer.

The Veil is joined in the Lyttelton by Kitson’s It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later from 7 to 21 October. A hit at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe, it is a show about everyone, with the past in our pockets, the future in our hearts, and us trapped forever in the moment between the two.

The King James Bible, which celebrates its 400th anniversary this year and has also featured as part of the Globe’s summer season, will be represented during the NT’s autumn. Extracts from the world-changing text will be read by an ensemble of leading actors in the Lyttelton, while Jonathan Miller will stage Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion for nine performances in the Olivier.

The National’s smallest auditorium, the Cottesloe, will host Mike Leigh’s new play from 14 September. Little is known about the content of the production, which will be created by Leigh in collaboration with his cast, though the cast has been confirmed. Joining Lesley Manville and Ruby Bentall are Sam Kelly, Marion Bailey, David Horovitch and Wendy Nottingham.

Before the autumn arrives in all its golden-leafed glory, the NT will present its annual al fresco summer Watch This Space festival, which will bring a host of interesting, eclectic acts to the area outside the iconic South Bank venue from 1 July to 11 September.

MA