Adrian Lester’s Red Velvet at Branagh residency

Adrian Lester, Red Velvet. Image Hugo Glendinning.
Adrian Lester, Red Velvet. Image Hugo Glendinning.

Adrian Lester is set to reprise his role of controversial actor Ira Aldridge in Tricycle Theatre’s Red Velvet in The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s Garrick season.

Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet will be the third play in the inaugural Plays at the Garrick.

The production, which originally premiered at the Tricycle Theatre in 2012 before transferring to New York last year, will play at the Garrick Theatre from January.

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The story starts out at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden in 1833. Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, has collapsed on stage while playing Othello.

A young black American actor has been asked to take over the role. But the public are rioting in the streets over the abolition of slavery. Will this see revolution in the theatre?

Kenneth Branagh said: “Writing, direction and performance are exceptional in Red Velvet. I’m immensely proud to be presenting this work.

“I was aware of its development from its inception and believe Lolita Chakrabarti has written an important and exhilarating play which in its discussion of performance, politics, and race is as entertaining as it is illuminating.”

Adrian Lester said: “Getting Ira’s story to the stage has been a labour of love for us. The fact that we now get to tell that story in the West End and in such illustrious company is fantastic.”

Lolita Chakrabarti is an award-winning playwright and actress. Red Velvet earned her the Charles Wintour Evening Standard Award and the Critics Circle Award in 2012.

The Winter’s Tale, Harlequinade / All On Her Own, Red Velvet, The Painkiller, Romeo and Juliet and The Entertainer make up the inaugural season of work for the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company.

Red Velvet plays at The Garrick Theatre from January 23-February 27.

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