Saturday 20 June 2015

A Trip to the Theatre: Orson's Shadow

Today I beg your indulgence as we take a small detour away from the long eighteenth century, though it is in the service of art!

My passion for the Georgian era is matched only by my passion for theatre and film and it's no secret that, when it comes to the BBC's rightly acclaimed 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Mr Darcy in his wet shirt leaves me cold. Instead, I was a Wickham kind of gal, so I was thrilled to learn that Adrian Lukis, known to lovers of all things Austen as the caddish (and far and away the best) Mr W, is to appear in a new production of Orson's Shadow this summer. Obviously I was already at the box office at that news alone, but upon learning that the rest of the cast includes the marvellous pairing of Gina Bellman and John Hodgkinson, the salon was fairly alive with excitement!

The play is on at Southwark playhouse from 1st July to 25th and my tickets are already safely booked! Even better, between 1st - 4th July, all tickets for the play are just £10.

After all, how could anybody turn down the chance to see what Mr Wickham is up to 20 years later?

My vested interest in this production is unashamedly clear but, should you spot any theatrical performances featuring actors known for adaptations of long 18th century works do let me know, and I will do my best to spread the word!


Adrian Lukis, John Hodgkinson, and Gina Bellman
Adrian Lukis, John Hodgkinson, and Gina Bellman
Final casting has been announced for the European premiere of Orson’s Shadow, a critically acclaimed comedy by Austin Pendleton, about the time when Hollywood giants Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier worked together for the first time – the inspired idea of legendary theatre critic, Kenneth Tynan.

Set in 1960 backstage at London’s Royal Court Theatre, Welles has agreed to direct Olivier and Joan Plowright in a production of Eugène Ionesco’s masterpiece Rhinoceros. But with Olivier’s eccentric wife Vivien Leigh added to the volatile mix, legendary egos collide both on stage and off.

Gina Bellman will play Vivien Leigh, Edward Bennett (Kenneth Tynan), Louise Ford (Joan Plowright), John Hodgkinson (Orson Welles), Adrian Lukis (Laurence Olivier), Ciaran O’Brien (Sean).

Based on true events, Orson’s Shadow is a sharp-witted yet tender-hearted expose’ of the thin skins, hot tempers, and rampaging egos that exist when two titans of the stage and screen come together.  It was nominated Outstanding Play of the Year in the Lortel Awards on its New York debut.

Produced by Emily Dobbs Productions and Smith & Brant Theatricals, Orson’s Shadow will get its European premiere, directed by Alice Hamilton, at Southwark Playhouse from Wednesday 1 July to Saturday 25 July.

Gina Bellman
Gina Bellman
Gina Bellman (Vivien Leigh)
Gina made an unforgettable TV debut when she was cast in the title role in Dennis Potter’s BBC drama, Blackeyes. She starred as Jane Christie in all four series of Steven Moffat’s award-winning Coupling in the UK and as Sophie Devereaux, “The Grifter”, an accomplished British grifter with a taste for art theft, in all five series of cult US TV series Leverage. On stage, she appeared at the National Theatre in Mike Leigh’s Two Thousand Years, The Crucible and in Cleo, Camping Emmanuelle and Dick. She played Marilyn Monroe in Rupert Goold’s production of Insignificance. Her West End roles include Ophelia in Hamlet directed by Peter Hall, Karen in Speed The Plow and Janet in The Rocky Horror Show.

Edward Bennett
Edward Bennett
Edward Bennett (Kenneth Tynan)
For the Royal Shakespeare Company, Edward played Laertes in Hamlet, Demitrius, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Benedict in Love’s Labour’s Won. As part of Sam Mendes’ “The Bridge Project”, he played Oliver in As You Like It and Ferdinand in The Tempest. He was Stanley Stubbers in the National Theatre’s One Man Two Guvnors.

Louise Ford and Adrian Lukis
Louise Ford and Adrian Lukis
Louise Ford (Joan Plowright)
Louise recently filmed We Hate Paul Revere, a TV comedy pilot. In September she starts filming Horrible Histories. On stage she recently appeared in Knight of the Burning Pestle at the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse. At Shakespeare’s Globe she appeared in The Bible and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

John Hodgkinson
John Hodgkinson
John Hodgkinson (Orson Welles)
John recently appeared in Love’s Labour’s Lost, as Don Armado and Love’s Labour’s Won, as Don Pedro for the Royal Shakespeare Company. At the Open Air Theatre he played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew. He was last seen on stage as Sainsbury, in Donkey’s Years at the Rose Theatre, Kingston.

Adrian Lukis
Adrian Lukis
Adrian Lukis (Laurence Oliver)
Adrian was Geoffrey in Versailles, directed by Peter Gill at the Donmar Warehouse and Mycroft Holmes, in Sherlock Holmes: The Best Kept Secret at West Yorkshire Playhouse. On TV, he played George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice and Sir John Darnley in Downton Abbey and is series regular Blair Toast in C4’s award-winning Toast of London.

Ciaran O’Brien (Sean)

Ciaran was Jack the Ripper in BBC1’s Ripper Street. His stage roles include Gar Public in Philadelphia, Here I Come in, Manus in Translations and Curley in Of Mice and Men at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Austin Pendleton (Writer) is an Obie Award-winning actor who has appeared in more than 120 films and TV shows since the late 1960s. He is an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. As a writer, his plays Orson’s Shadow, Uncle Bob and Booth have all premiered Off Broadway.  As a director, he was Tony nominated for directing Elizabeth Taylor in The Little Foxes. In 2012 he directed a production of Detroit in London at the National Theatre.

Alice Hamilton (Director) is co-artistic director of Up In Arms, for whom she recently directed Linda Bassett in the award-winning Visitors at the Bush, Arcola and on a UK tour. Other directing credits include Fear of Music for Up In Arms/Out Of Joint; Missing at Tristan Bates, and At First Sight at Latitude Festival and on UK tour. She has also directed shorts for The Miniaturists at Arcola, Courting Drama at the Bush and Hatch at the Park Theatre.  She was Staff Director on Man and Superman at the National Theatre.

Ruth O‘Dowd (Casting Director) As Casting Director for the Unicorn Theatre: The Velveteen Rabbit (dir. Purni Morell), Henry The Fifth (dir. Ellen McDougall), Britain’s Best Recruiting Sergeant (dir. Lee Lyford), Caucasian Chalk Circle (dir. Amy Leach), The Nutcracker (dir. Ellen McDougall), How Nigeria Became (dir. Gbolahan Obisesan) and Seesaw (dir. Sarah Argent).  As Casting Associate to Anne McNulty: Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (dir. Michael Attenborough, Chichester and West End), Outside Mullingar (dir. Sam Yates, Ustinov Studio, Bath), Bakkhai (dir. James Macdonald, Almeida Theatre), and Carmen Disruption (dir. Michael Longhurst, Almeida).

Emily Dobbs Productions (Producers) was founded by Emily Dobbs.  The company creates fresh, fearless and innovative theatre with a focused artistic policy that includes commissioning original adaptations, new writing and re-imaginings of classics. They have produced critically acclaimed work across London, at regional venues and in New York. Theatre includes: The Father (Trafalgar Studios), Uncle Vanya (St James’ Theatre – part of the One Stage season), Three Sisters, The Love Girl And The Innocent, The Seagull, The Only True History Of Lizzie Finn, Antigone, The Hostage (Southwark Playhouse), Cornelius (New York transfer to 59E59 Theater), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Gotcha, Stars In The Morning Skies (Riverside Studios), Dusa Fish Stas & Vi, Love On The Dole, Ours (Finborough) and Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down (Arcola).

Smith & Brant Theatricals (Producers) Smith & Brant Theatricals is independently owned and run by the international and award-winning producers, Joseph Smith and John Brant.  With a background that encompasses the commercial and subsidised sectors, Smith & Brant Theatricals are passionate about developing new work, as well as regularly collaborating on co-productions and offering general management services, supported by Robyn Keynes.  Current projects include: executive producing the UK production of the Tony award-winning musical Memphis (Shaftesbury Theatre), co-producing the comedy revival of Richard Bean’s The Mentalists (Wyndham’s Theatre), and general managing August Strindberg’s The Father (Trafalgar Studios). Previous producing credits include: The Pajama Game (Shaftesbury Theatre, 2014); How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Broadway, 2011/12) starring Daniel Radcliffe; Promises, Promises (Broadway, 2010) and Jonathan Kent’s production of Sweeney Todd (West End, 2012), winner of 3 Olivier Awards including “Best Musical Revival”, 5 WhatsOnStage Awards including “Best Musical Revival” and the Evening Standard Theatre Award for “Best Musical”.

Southwark Playhouse

77-85 Newington Causeway

Box Office: 020 7407 0234

Wednesday 1 July to Saturday 25 July

£18.00/£16.00 concessions; all previews £10.00 (Wednesday 1 July – Saturday 4 July)


Mari Christian said...

Well, how perverse of you to admire George Wickham instead of Mr. Darcy.I could never overcome my aversion to his shifty eyes. Actually, this is a wonderful post, Catherine. How I wish I could see this production. My sister attended The Guildhall many eons ago and we had so many theatre
adventures--a few of which shall not be further explored!

Catherine Curzon said...

I'm entirely outrageous in my allegiance. If Adrian L had played Darcy, I'd be a Darcy kind of gal instead. ;-) I can't wait to see this play, I'm counting off the days; it's doubly exciting because Gina Bellman was the first actress I saw play Janet in Rocky horror, so it's a big nostalgia-fest for me!