Imelda Staunton and Conleth Hill will star in a new production of multi Tony and Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? directed by James Macdonald. It runs at the West End’s Harold Pinter Theatre for 13 weeks from 22 February to 27 May 2017, with an official opening night on 9 March.
Following the sad news of Albee’s passing last week (16 September 2016) and in anticipation of this revival, Michael Billington recently wrote in The Guardian: “With America currently engaged in its own form of post-truth politics, now seems the perfect time to revive Albee’s enduring masterpiece about the danger of living in a world of illusions.”
In the early hours of the morning on the campus of an American college, Martha, much to her husband George’s displeasure, has invited the new professor Nick and his wife Honey to their home for some after-party drinks. As the alcohol flows and dawn approaches, the young couple are drawn into George and Martha’s toxic games until the evening reaches its climax in a moment of devastating truth-telling.
Casting of Nick and Honey is still to be announced. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is designed by Tom Pye and presented by Sonia Friedman Productions.
Imelda Staunton (Martha) returns to the West End after her triumphant and Olivier Award-winning performance as Mama Rose in Gypsy. Amongst her many other theatre credits, notable performances include Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, for which she won an Olivier Award, Circle, Mirror, Transformation for the Royal Court and the role of Claire in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance at the Almeida Theatre. In total, Staunton has been nominated for eleven Olivier Awards, winning four. On film Staunton is perhaps best known for playing the title role in Vera Drake, for which she received the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and for the role of Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films.
Conleth Hill (George) is perhaps best known for his role as Lord Varys in the HBO television production Game of Thrones. A multi award-winning theatre actor, amongst his extensive theatre credits, recent productions include Quartermaine’s Terms at the Wyndham’s Theatre and The Cherry Orchard at the National Theatre. Hill won the Olivier Award for Best Actor for The Producers, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and for Stones In His Pockets in the West End. He also received Tony Award nominations for his role in Stones In His Pockets on its transfer to Broadway and The Seafarer, which transferred from the National Theatre to Broadway. Hill’s film credits include Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Whatever Works, directed by Woody Allen.
James Macdonald is highly regarded for his work with Caryl Churchill and Sarah Kane, recently directing Churchill’s play Escaped Alone at the Royal Court. Other recent work includes the award-winning production of Florian Zeller’s The Father and Roots at the Donmar Warehouse. Macdonald has previously directed Staunton in the Royal Court’s production of Circle, Mirror, Transformation by Annie Baker and in the critically-acclaimed production of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance at the Almeida Theatre.
Edward Albee was born on March 12th 1928 and began writing plays 30 years later. His plays include The Zoo Story (1958), The Death of Bessie Smith (1959), The Sandbox (1959), The American Dream (1960), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961-62, Tony Award), Tiny Alice (1964), A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer Prize; 1996, Tony Award), All Over (1971), Seascape (1974, Pulitzer Prize), Listening (1975), Counting the Ways (1975), The Lady from Dubuque (1977-78), The Man Who Had Three Arms (1981), Finding the Sun (1982), Marriage Play (1986-87), Three Tall Women (1991, Pulitzer Prize), Fragments (1993), The Play about the Baby (1997), The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? (2000, 2002 Tony Award), Occupant (2001), At Home at the Zoo: Act 1, Homelife. Act 2, The Zoo Story. (2004), and Me, Myself & I (2008). Mr. Albee was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1980. In 1996 he received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. In 2005 he was awarded a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.