Preview: National Theatre Autumn Season Announced

Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche are the biggest names on the National Theatre’s recently announced autumn lineup.

The former is set to star in Jonathan Kent’s long-mooted production of Oedipus while the latter is involved in an intriguing collaborative project with choreographer Akram Khan.

Though the collaboration between Binoche and Khan had already announced, few details about this production had been released. Now the piece at least has a name: in-i. Khan has always favoured intriguing artistic collaborations and has previously worked with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Antony Gormley and Nitin Sawhney, Sylvie Guillem and Hanif Kureishi; in her film career Binoche has also worked with an eclectic range of directors. in-i will have a set designed by Anish Kapoor and will premiere at the Lyttelton Theatre in September, before touring internationally.

Also in September, Enda Walsh’s The Walworth Farce will be staged in the Cottesloe Theatre. Directed by Mikel Murfi, the play is set in a council flat on London’s Walworth Road and concerns the stories people tell themselves about their lives. Starring Denis Conway, Garrett Lombard, Tadhg Murphy and Mercy Ojelade,the production was staged at the Traverse Theatre during last year’s Edinbirgh Festival where it scooped a Fringe First Award and is arriving at the Ntational following a critically acclaimed run in New York.

Then in the Olivier, as previously mentioned, Ralph Fiennes will play the title role in Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus, with previews beginning on 8 October. Presented in a new version by Frank McGuinness and directed by Jonathan Kent, the production will also feature Clare Higgins (recently seen in Major Barbara) as Jocasta. Other confirmed cast members include Alan Howard, Patrick Brennan, Steven Page, Christopher Saul, David Shaw-Parker and Malcolm StorryFiennes and Kent have worked together before on Faith Healer (first at the Gate Theatre, Dublin and then on Broadway) as well as productions of Hamlet, Ivanov, Richard II and Coriolanus.

At the end of October, the Lyttelton will be home to To Be Straight With You, a unique show by DV8 exploring ideas of tolerance and intolerance through a blend of dance, text, documentary, film and animated projections. Conceived and directed by Lloyd Newson, the show has a limited run at the National until 19 November.

Katie Mitchell’s Waves, based on the novel by Virginia Woolf, returns to the Cottesloe at the end of August for a short run prior to a national tour and Marianne Elliot and Tom Morris’ acclaimed production of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse returns to the Olivier for another run in September. In addition to her role in Oedipus, Claire Higgins will also be joining her Major Barbara co-star Simon Russell Beale in a double bill of plays by Harold Pinter, Landscape and A Slight Ache. Directed by Iqbal Khan, these will run for eight performances only in September and October.

Looking a little further ahead, after glowing reviews and a sell-out run at the Cottesloe, Lee Hall’s The Pitmen Painters is due to return to the larger Lyttleton stage in January 2009.

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