#CastingbyClowns – I celebrate as Cate Blanchett and Lucy Cohu return to the stage

Such amazing casting news came our way yesterday, with not one but two of my absolute faves returning to the London stage in the coming months. The starrier of the two is Cate Blanchett, who will appear with Stephen Dillane in a brand new play by Martin Crimp’s directed by Katie Mitchell at the National Theatre in January 2019. The play is enigmatically entitled When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other – Twelve Variations on Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. (The torture presumably being the absolute scrum there’ll be to get tickets, as the show is going into the NT’s most intimate space, the Dorfman.)

But matching Blanchett in my personal pantheon in Lucy Cohu, an actor whom I’ve longed admired since she broke my heart in the double whammy of Torchwood – Children of Earth on the TV and Speaking in Tongues on the stage. She’s joining the cast of Florian Zeller’s The Height of the Storm, alongside Anna Madeley and Amanda Drew. And given that the cast already contains the previously announced Jonathan Pryce and Dame Eileen Atkins, this ought to be a good’un. That shows arrives at the Wyndham’s Theatre in October after a brief tour of Richmond, Cambridge and Bath.

Cate Blanchett and Stephen Dillane perform in Martin Crimp’s world premiere directed by Katie Mitchell in January 2019

WHEN WE HAVE SUFFICIENTLY TORTURED EACH OTHER

TWELVE VARIATIONS ON SAMUEL RICHARDSON’S PAMELA

A new play by Martin Crimp (Attempts on Her Life, In the Republic of Happiness). Directed by Katie Mitchell (Waves, Cleansed) with a cast including Cate Blanchettwho makes her National Theatre debut alongsideStephen Dillane returning to the National Theatre for the first time since The Coast of Utopia in 2002.

Martin Crimp’s play breaks through the surface of contemporary debate to explore the messy, often violent nature of desire, and the fluid, complicated roles that men and women play.

Using Richardson’s novel as a provocation, five characters act out a dangerous game of sexual domination and resistance.

“Go on then: lock the doors and see what happens. Show me how much power you really have.”

Katie Mitchell returns to the National Theatre following a sold out production of Cleansed in 2016, Katie said: “It’s great to be working with Martin again on this powerful new text and to continue my special collaboration with Stephen Dillane. At the same time I’m delighted to welcome Cate Blanchett to the National, and look forward to developing a new working relationship with this extraordinary actor.”

More information will be announced in autumn 2018 when tickets will go on sale.

Multi award-winning star of screen and stage Jonathan Pryce will star as ‘Andreì’, and three-time Olivier award-winning Dame Eileen Atkins will star as ‘Madeleine’ in The Height of the Storm, in the UK premiere of a new compelling family drama by Florian Zeller, the internationally acclaimed writer of The Father.

Directed by Jonathan KentThe Height of the Storm will open at Richmond Theatre on Saturday 1 September and play Cambridge Arts Theatre and Bath Theatre Royal, before transferring to London, opening at Wyndham’s Theatre on Tuesday 2 October, with a press night on Tuesday 9 October.

Andreì and Madeleine have been in love for over fifty years. This weekend, as their daughters visit, something feels unusual. A bunch of flowers arrives, but who sent them? A woman from the past turns up, but who is she? And why does Andreì feel like he isn’t there at all?

Anna Madeley will play the couple’s daughter, ‘Elise’. She most recently starred as ‘Mary’ opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in Sky’s Patrick Melrose, and her other screen credits include The Crown (Netflix), Dr Foster (BBC), A Child in Time (BBC) and Secret State (Channel 4). Recent stage credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Young Vic), Les Blancs (National Theatre), The Crucible (Old Vic), and The Turn of the Screw(Almeida).

Amanda Drew, who starred in Florian Zeller’s The Father, and whose extensive stage credits include Enron (Royal Court/West End), Three Days in the Country (NT), The Events (ATC/Tour) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (West End), will play the other daughter, ‘Anne’. Her screen credits include Broadchurch (ITV), EastEnders (BBC), HBO’s forthcoming series Chernobyl and Black Mirror for Netflix.

Lucy Cohu, who won a BAFTA and Emmy for her portrayal of Princess Margaret in The Queen’s Sister, and an Emmy for Forgiven (Channel 4), will play ‘The Woman’. Cohu has recently starred opposite Rowan Atkinson in ITV’s Maigret, and other screen credits include Ripper Street (Amazon), Broadchurch (ITV), and films Gosford Park andBecoming Jane.

Jonathan Pryce is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning actor on stage and screen. His diverse film work includes lauded performances in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil,James Foley’s Glengarry Glen RossCarrington for which Pryce won the Best Actor award at both Cannes Film Festival and Evening Standard Awards, Evita and successful blockbusters such as Tomorrow Never Dies, the Pirates of the Caribbean series and the G.I. Joe films.

His extensive theatre work includes Comedians in London and on Broadway, for which he won a Tony Award; The Royal Court production of Hamlet, for which he received an Olivier Award; and Miss Saigon in which he starred on both sides of the Atlantic, winning further Olivier and Tony awards.

Pryce’s recent work includes Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote alongside Adam Driver; The Man Who Invented Christmas alongside Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer, and The Wife opposite Glenn Close. He is currently filming upcoming Netflix feature The Pope alongside Anthony Hopkins, directed by Fernando Meirelles.

Pryce’s television work includes Taboo for FX and BBC, alongside Tom Hardy, and Sally Wainwright’s one-off film for BBC television To Walk Invisible. He also starred in Cranford: Return to Cranford, for which he received an Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama. His other recent television roles include Cardinal Wolsey in the award-winning adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and High Sparrow in the hugely successful series Game of Thrones.

Dame Eileen Atkins is a three-time Olivier award-winning actress, and four-time Tony Award nominee. She is known for her BAFTA and Emmy award-winning performance in Cranford and major roles in Upstairs Downstairs and Doc Martin. Film roles include Gosford ParkThe Hours and Paddington 2.

Atkins’ many stage appearances in the West End include HonourEllen Terry, Three Tall Women and The Female of the Species. She has also played starring roles on Broadway in Retreat from Moscow with John Lithgow, and All that Fall with Michael Gambon, Indiscretions with Jude Law, The Killing of Sister George and Vivat! Vivat! Regina!, all of which she received Tony Award nominations for Best Actress. She can be seen most recently as Queen Mary in Netflix’s The Crown.

The Height of the Storm is a beautifully compelling family drama by Florian Zeller, “the most exciting playwright of our time” (The Guardian). Starring two of the greatest actors of their generation on stage together for the first time, this major new play from the writer of Olivier Award-Winning The Father is a searing exploration of love, family and the fragility of life.

The Height of the Storm is translated by Christopher Hampton, directed by Jonathan Kent (GypsyLong Day’s Journey into Night) and produced by Simon Friend, Mark Goucher and Howard Panter. Co-producers will be Gavin Kalin, Act Productions and Scott Landis

Photos: Lucy Cohu by Patrick Bolger, Cate Blanchett by Steven Cree

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