Hampstead Theatre focuses on Jack Cardiff bioplay for autumn premiere

Robert Lindsay steps behind the lens to play legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff in Terry Johnson’s Prism which premieres at Hampstead Theatre as part of its new autumn Main Stage line-up, announced this week.

Written and directed by Johnson, Prism launches the season in September and will also star Claire Skinner, Rebecca Night and Barnaby Kay.

The season also sees the premiere of Nicholas Wright’s The Slaves of Solitude, adapted from Patrick Hamilton’s acclaimed novel, directed by Jonathan Kent, and a revival of Simon Gray’s Cell Mates, to be directed by Hampstead artistic director Edward Hall.

Said Hall: “I’m extremely proud to announce such an exciting body of work at Hampstead Theatre this autumn.

“With two world premieres on the Main Stage and a long overdue revival of Simon Gray’s Cell Mates, our aim is to continue to provide endless nights of top quality and entertaining theatre for hundreds of thousands of theatregoers.

“I’m personally looking forward to Gray’s gripping espionage thriller and I hope to help it gain its rightful place in the repertoire as a serious, brilliant piece of British drama”.

PRISM (September 6-October 14)

Terry Johnson’s witty and poignant new play, Prism , is based on the extraordinary life of double Oscar-winning cinematic master Jack Cardiff.

Legendary cinematographer Cardiff has retired to the sleepy Bucks village of Denham. His days of hard work – and play – on some of the most famous sets in the world, are now long behind him, as are his secret liaisons with some of the most famous women in the world.

Surrounded by memorabilia from a lifetime of ‘painting with light’, the writing of an autobiography should be an easy matter – were it not that Jack would now rather live in the past than remember it.

THE SLAVES OF SOLITUDE (October 20 – November 25)

This new play, adapted from Patrick Hammilton’s book by Nicholas Wright, weaves a fascinating blend of dark hilarity and melancholy in a story about an improbable heroine in wartime Britain.

1943, Henley-on-Thames. Miss Roach is forced by the war to flee London for the Rosamund Tea Rooms boarding house, which is as grey and lonely as its residents.

From the safety of these new quarters, her war now consists of a thousand petty humiliations, of which the most burdensome is sharing her daily life with the unbearable Mr Thwaites.

But a breath of fresh air arrives in the form of a handsome American Lieutenant and things start to look distinctly brighter…until a friend moves into the room adjacent to Miss Roach’s, upsetting the precariously balanced ecosystem of the house.

CELL MATES (November 30 – January 20)

Simon Gray’s deftly funny play, Cell Mates, hasn’t been staged since 1995. This absorbing drama explores how personal freedom is an illusion and even friendship must have carefully circumscribed limits in a world where deception is a reflex response.

Wormwood Scrubs Prison, London, 1961. One of Britain’s most notorious double agents, George Blake, is serving a 42 year sentence – that is, until he strikes up an unlikely friendship with Irish petty criminal, Sean Bourke.

Both men are eccentric outsiders and each sees the possibility of escape – and not just from prison – through the other.

But once on the outside, can their mutual dependence survive the mounting pressures they face from MI5, from the KGB – and indeed from themselves?

Previewing Downstairs at Hampstead Theatre in Autumn 2017 will be No One Will Tell Me How To Start A Revolution (September 21–October 21) written by Luke Barnes and directed by Anna Ledwich; and The Firm (October 27-November 25), written by Roy Williams.

Hampstead Theatre is also launching a new initiative aimed at mentoring aspiring young playwrights.

Inspire: The Next Playwright Programme is an opportunity for playwrights with new ideas, talent and energy to develop their craft under the mentorship of award-winning playwright, Roy Williams.

Roy Williams said: “I am really chuffed and excited to be mentoring the Hampstead Theatre’s new young writers’ group. It’s all about finding new voices. Theatre will die without them”.

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