Rattigan, Chekhov and a Threepenny Opera lead spring season at the National Theatre

Olivia Vinall & James McArdle, Platonov. Image Johan Persson.
Olivia Vinall & James McArdle, Platonov. Image Johan Persson.

London’s National Theatre wades into troubled water with Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea starring returner Helen McCrory.

The theatre is taking David Hare’s critically acclaimed Young Chekhov season, of Platonov, Ivanov and The Seagull, which thrilled audiences and critics alike at Chichester last year; Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars and a new play by Alexi Kaye Campbell, Sunset at the Villa Thalia, directed by Simon Godwin.

The season, announced today, also includes the return of Rory Kinnear in Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, a new translation by Simon Stephens directed by Rufus Norris.

The Threepenny Opera, opens in the Olivier Theatre on May 26 as part of the theatre’s £15 Travelex season. The cast includes Jamie Beddard, Rosalie Craig, Nick Holder alongside Rory Kinnear.

London scrubs up for the coronation. The thieves are on the make, the whores on the pull, the police cutting deals to keep it all out of sight. Mr and Mrs Peachum are looking forward to a bumper day in the beggary business but their daughter didn’t come home last night and Mack the Knife is back in town.

A landmark 20th century musical theatre , The Threepenny Opera is a bold new production which will, gasp, contain filthy language and immoral behaviour (so don’t bring your grannies).

THE SEAGULL by Chekhov

Young Chekhov will play in the Olivier Theatre from July 14 bringing with it, from Sussex, most of the company which made the trilogy such a hit (read Stage Review’s verdict bit.ly/1RhwnTr).

Directed by Jonathan Kent and performed by one ensemble of actors, each play can be seen as a single performance over different days or as a thrilling all-day theatrical experience. Cast includes Emma Amos, Pip Carter, Anna Chancellor, Jonathan Coy, Mark Donald, Peter Egan, Col Farrell, Beverley Klein, Adrian Lukis, Des McAleer, James McArdle, Mark Penfold, Nina Sosanya, Geoffrey Streatfeild, Sarah Twomey, David Verrey, Olivia Vinall and Jade Williams.

Platonov sees schoolteacher Mikhail Platonov fending off women during the blazing heat of a rural summer. This freewheeling comedy is a cry of youthful defiance against the compromises of middle age.

The cycle continues with Ivanov. Nikolai Ivanov, 35, a radical and a romantic, but feeling that he’s thrown his life away. Determined not to become a small-town Hamlet, he hopes one last desperate romance may save him from a society rotten with anti-Semitism and drink.

The production ends with The Seagull, Chekhov’s masterly meditation about how the old take revenge on the young. Both comic and tragic it marks the birth of the modern stage.

Carrie Cracknell directs Helen McCrory in Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea, in the NT’s Lyttelton Theatre this June. McCrory plays Hester Collyer who lives in a flat in Ladbroke Grove, West London. 1952.

When Hester Collyer is found by her neighbours in the aftermath of a failed suicide attempt, the story of her tempestuous affair with a former RAF pilot and the breakdown of her marriage to a High Court Judge begins to emerge.


The Plough and the Stars, also running in rep at the Lyttelton, opens in July and stars Stephen Kennedy, Justine Mitchell and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.

From November 1915 to Easter 1916, as the rebellion builds to a climax half a mile away, the disparate residents of a Dublin tenement go about their lives, peripheral to Ireland’s history. O’Casey places a fixed lens to watch, mercilessly objective, as a dozen vivid characters come and go – selfless, hilarious and desperate by turns – while the heroic myth of Ireland is fought over elsewhere.

Sunset at the Villa Thalia will play in rep at the Dorfman Theatre from May 25 with a cast including Christos Callow, Sam Crane, Glykeria Dimou, Elizabeth McGovern, Ben Miles, Pippa Nixon and Eve Polycarpou.

Set in April 1967: Greece is in political turmoil. Charlotte and Theo have retreated to a small island in search of peace and inspiration. But when they meet a charismatic American couple at the port they are seduced into making choices with devastating consequences.

Also in the Dorfman is Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winging drama, The Flick.

In a run-down movie theatre in central Massachusetts, three underpaid employees mop the floors and attend to one of the last 35-millimetre film projectors in the state. Their tiny battles, and not-so-tiny heartbreaks, play out in the empty aisles, becoming more gripping than the lacklustre, second-run movies on screen.

With keen insight and a finely-tuned comic eye, The Flick is a hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world.

The cast includes Matthew Maher and Louisa Krause, who will reprise the roles of Sam and Rose, created for the Barrow Street Theatre, New York City. They will be joined by Jaygann Ayeh in the role of Avery.

For full details of the spring programme go to the NT website www.nationaltheatre.org.uk

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