Preview: National Theatre

Perhaps the most exciting prospect of the National’s recently announced spring-summer 2009 season is Peter Flannery’s new stage adaptation of the 1994 Oscar-winning Russian film Burnt by the Sun, set on the eve of Stalin’s Great Terror.

The production, which is receiving its world premiere, will be directed by Howard Davies, and star Ciaran Hinds (star of HBO’s Rome and Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood) and the National’s man of the moment Rory Kinnear, last seen in Melly Still’s dazzling production of The Revenger’s Tragedy.

Other productions scheduled for the new year include Richard Bean’s new play England People Very Nice which will be directed by the theatre’s artistic director Nicholas Hytner and staged in the Olivier as part of 2009’s Travelex 10 season. The play, set in London’s Bethnal Green, looks at immigration from 17th century to the present day and will star Olivia Coleman, of Peep Show and Green Wing fame, making her NT debut.

Also in the Olivier, opening in April, Rufus Norris (whose previous work includes David Eldridge’s Market Boy and Festen and the recent stage version of Tin-Tin) will direct a revival of Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman set in 1940s Nigeria. The production opens in April.

The now ubiquitous Rupert Goold (whose King Lear has just opened in Liverpool to less than stellar reviews) will also be making his NT debut with a staging of JB Priestley’s Time and the Conways, a family drama set in 1919. Staged in the Lyttelton, the production will open in April. Goold is everywhere at the moment: in addition to his Lear, he has recently directed Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author (seen first at Chichester and then in the West End) and the current staging of Pinter’s No Man’s Land at Duke Of York’s Theatre, starring Michael Gambon. He will also helm the West End revival of Oliver later this year.

The National’s spring-summer lineup is completed by a production of Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage in the Cottesloe, directed by James MacDonald. The National will also stage a reading by David Hare to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Berlin is a meditation on the character of Germany’s once fractured capital, which will be directed by Stephen Daldry. Hare’s latest play Gethsemane opens in the Cottesloe this week.

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