Classic comedy, Copenhagen and a major musical revival for Chichester 2018

Chichester Festival Theatre’s Daniel Evans today announces his second Festival season as artistic director and the programme includes classic comedies, revivals of major shows and a raft of new work.

Festival 2018 includes new plays by Charlotte Jones, Bryony Lavery and Laura Wade and headline actors include Rufus Hound, Penelope Keith, Amanda Root, Oliver Ford Davies, Susannah Fielding, Caroline Quentin, Charles Edwards, Paul Jesson, Clare Burt, Joanna Riding and Gary Wilmot.

Sean Foley directs Rufus Hound in Noël Coward’s Present Laughter; Penelope Keith, Amanda Root and Oliver Ford Davies lead the cast of Enid Bagnold’s The Chalk Garden, directed by Alan Strachan; Jonathan Munby directs Wycherley’s Restoration comedy The Country Wife and Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen receives a 20th anniversary revival.

Also announced is Cock by Mike Bartlett; two musicals – Me And My Girl (with Caroline Quentin) and Flowers For Mrs Harris (with Gary Wilmot) – both directed by Daniel Evans.

Three new plays have been named as The Meeting by Charlotte Jones; The Watsons by Laura Wade and Bryony Lavery adapts David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang.

Daniel Evans and executive director Rachel Tackley said: “We’re enormously grateful for the warm welcome extended to us by our local community and those visiting from further afield during our first season, which welcomed Chichester’s largest-ever Festival audience.

“Festival 2018 is all about breadth of choice, perfectly illustrated by our opening plays: Noël Coward in the Festival Theatre and debbie tucker green in the Minerva.

“We have three new plays by outstanding playwrights Charlotte Jones, Bryony Lavery and Laura Wade, and revivals of significant contemporary work by Mike Bartlett and Michael Frayn.

“This season we will achieve a 50:50 gender balance in our acting company, which includes some of the most exciting and beloved names in British theatre.

“Finally, we’re delighted that three Festival 2017 productions will reach a wider audience in London this year: Caroline, Or Change at Hampstead, and Quiz and King Lear in the West End”.


Present Laughter (20 April – 12 May, Festival Theatre)

This sparkling comedy about sex, fame and the theatre itself – and a man wrestling with his own self-image – is widely regarded as Noël Coward’s most autobiographical play. Starring Rufus Hound

random / generations, (4 May – 2 June, Minerva Theatre)

A double bill of plays by debbie tucker green, directed by Tinuke Craig

random is told through the eyes of a young woman, explores the unbearable sense of loss felt by a family faced with a catastrophic and random act. generations – fierce, warm and funny – is presented here in a double bill that examines love, life and loss through the lives of two families on two continents.

The Chalk Garden (25 May – 16 June, Festival Theatre)

Both singular comedy and haunting mystery, this startling insight into mother-daughter relationships, starring Penelope Keith, is regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable plays.

The author of many books and dramas, Enid Bagnold is still best known for her 1935 novel, National Velvet.

The Country Wife (8 June – 7 July, Minerva Theatre)

Widely regarded as one of the filthiest and funniest plays ever written, William Wycherley’s The Country Wife has outraged and excited audiences for over 300 years (though not during the many years it was banned from both stage and print) and today still casts a provocative light on sexual mores.

Me and My Girl (2 July – 25 August, Festival Theatre)

This uproarious, much-loved musical comedy, starring Caroline Quentin, includes the enormously popular numbers The Sun Has Got His Hat On, Lambeth Walk and of course Me and My Girl. The revised version, by Stephen Fry and Michael Ockrent, also featuring Leaning on a Lamppost, won the 1985 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical.

The Meeting (13 July – 11 August, Minerva Theatre)

This powerful new play from the acclaimed writer Charlotte Jones is a spellbinding exploration of the timeless challenges of bringing the truth to light.

Copenhagen (17 August – 22 September, Minerva Theatre)

In 1941, in the middle of the Second World War, the great German physicist Werner Heisenberg made a strange trip to Copenhagen to see his Danish colleague Niels Bohr. Heisenberg was burdened with a terrible secret. Why he went to Copenhagen and what he wanted to say to Bohr, are questions which have exercised historians ever since.

Copenhagen premiered at the National Theatre in 1998, going on to the West End and Broadway and winning over 10 major international awards.

Flowers For Mrs Harris (8 – 29 September, Festival Theatre)

This new musical, directed by Daniel Evans, captures the glowing humanity of the novella by Paul Gallico on which it is based. The production began in Sheffield, where it won three UK Theatre Awards including Best Musical.

Cock (28 September – 27 October, Minerva Theatre)

Funny and eye-openingly fresh and frank, Cock is a provocative peep into relationships in these days of oscillating identities. It tussles with knotty twenty-first century questions: can we – and should we be allowed to – change if we want to?

Contains very strong language and scenes of a sexual nature. Age guideline 16+

The Midnight Gang (13 October – 3 November, Festival Theatre)

This inventive tale of fun, friendship and the importance of kindness is adapted from David Walliams’s biggest-selling children’s book of 2016.

The Watsons (3 November – 1 December, Minerva Theatre)

What happens when the writer loses the plot?

Based on her incomplete novel, this sparklingly witty play looks under the bonnet of Jane Austen and asks: what can characters do when their author abandons them?

Sleeping Beauty (15 – 30 December, Festival Theatre)

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre present Rufus Norris’s splendidly entertaining and mischievous version of the original fairy tale that ventures beyond the usual ‘happy ever after’ ending with the prince and princess united.

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