Hugh Bonneville returns to the stage this summer in Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, one of the highlights of Chichester’s 2016 Festival season.
Chichester artistic director Jonathan Church and the theatre’s executive director, Alan Finch, have announced their last season at the West Sussex powerhouse and it includes two musicals, two new plays and four epic dramas.
Joseph Fiennes is set to play Lawrence of Arabia in Terence Rattigan’s Ross, directed by Adrian Noble; Rachel Kavanaugh directs a new stage version of the hit musical Half A Sixpence, adapted by Julian Fellowes and Patricia Hodge leads a musical version of Travels With My Aunt.
Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of An Enemy of the People, directed by Howard Davies, is a searing examination of the intricate workings of power and influence, and an investigation into who holds real authority in society.
Bonneville plays Dr Stockmann, a man who makes a shocking scientific discovery about the standards of sanitation at a popular local baths, which he insists must close immediately to rid them of pollution.
Patricia Hodge and Steven Pacey star in Travels With My Aunt, based on Graham Greene’s novel. This new musical (book by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe) tells the story of retired bank manager Henry Pulling who is persuaded by his eccentric aunt to flee to Europe.
He finds himself in a luxurious whirl through Paris and Istanbul and on to South America. But, alongside the romance and first-class thrills, there’s a lot Henry doesn’t know about his aunt – particularly, why she has so many grateful men dotted around the globe.
The cast also includes Stephanie Bron, Jack Chissick, Michael Duke, Nicholas Duncan, Sarah Earnshaw, Rachel Grundy, Hugh Maynard, Abiola Ogunbiyi, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, Sebastien Torkia and Jack Wilcox.
Two new plays première in Chichester’s smaller Minerva Theatre and one couldn’t be more apt for a town at the heart of a very modern controversy.
Fracked! Or: Please Don’t Use the F-Word is a new black comedy by political satirist Alistair Beaton, and features James Bolam and Anne Reid.
Deerland Energy’s plans to drill for shale gas in the pretty village of Fenstock are going well, supported by distinguished scientists working in university departments funded by the energy companies.
At local level, the chair of the planning committee seems open to lucrative offers. The only slight snag is a ragged band of protestors, led by retired academic Elizabeth Blackwood.
Mark Hayhurst returns to the theme of war after his 2014 Chichester success, Taken At Midnight. First Light is set in 1916 and sees two young soldiers facing the horrors of the WWI Front Line trenches in the Battle of the Somme.
Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes has almost completely re-written Chichester’s big musical for high summer. With an eye on a West End transfer, Cameron Mackintosh is behind this new version of Half A Sixpence, based on an original story by HG Wells.
Bryan Dick plays Arthur Kipps, an orphan and over-worked draper’s assistant at the turn of the last century, who, unexpectedly, inherits a fortune that propels him into high society and the middle of a love triangle.
Bertie Carvel makes his directorial début with a revival of John Galsworthy’s Strife. More than a hundred years after it was first performed, Galsworthy’s rarely staged play – voted one of the National Theatre’s 100 most influential plays of the 20th century – offers a strikingly balanced account of the political spectrum.
Set in 1909, South Wales. The men of Trenartha Tinplate Works are on strike and the community is close to breaking point. Fearing their plummeting share price, most of the company’s board of directors are keen to reach a compromise but the chairman, the elderly John Anthony (Julian Glover making his Festival début), is resolute. The men are behind their firebrand leader but the union has withdrawn its support; how long before the men do too?
Unusually, Chichester also includes a trio of visiting productions this season – the highly acclaimed National Theatre political drama, This House and The Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatrical tour-de-force pairing of Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing (or Love’s Labour’s Won).
Outgoing artistic director Jonathan Church said: “If our final season has one theme it is the always urgent question of power: who has it, and who wants it.
“Whether the social dramas of Ibsen and Galsworthy, or the dark comedy of Alistair Beaton’s new play Fracked!, the pernicious effects of war in Mark Hayhurst’s new drama, First Light and Rattigan’s classic, Ross, or the political upheavals of This House, these plays explore a century of power shifts and struggles.
“The lighter side of the search for fulfilment is explored in our two joyous musicals, Travels with My Aunt and Half A Sixpence”.
Executive director, Alan Finch, who also leaves after this Festival, added: “Festival 2015 saw us break new records with over £6m in box office sales. Our commitment to developing new audiences continues with Festival 2016.
“Once again, over 10,000 tickets will be available at £10 in the Festival Theatre and our £8.50 ticket scheme for 16 to 25 year olds is re-launched with a new name, Prologue.”