London’s Jermyn Street Theatre has announced its first full season since reopening with the Footprints Festival earlier this year. The Encounters Season, which runs from mid-September to the end of the year, features some of the UK’s best-known stage names, including multi-award-winning actors Sîan Phillips, Michael Pennington, Oliver Ford Davies and Stephen Boxer.
The season kicks off with, as previously announced, Alan Ayckbourn comedy Relatively Speaking, which runs from 15 September to 9 October 2021. Directed by Robin Herford and starring Christopher Bonwell, Rachel Fielding, Lianne Harvey and James Simmons. The Mill at Sonning co-production is an enduringly funny comedy of mistaken identities and excruciating misunderstandings.
Relatively Speaking is followed by the transfer of Ben Brown’s A Splinter of Ice, running from 14 to 30 October 2021. Set in Moscow in 1987 as the Cold War begins to thaw, one of the great novelists of the twentieth century, Graham Greene, meets his old MI6 boss and notorious Soviet spy, Kim Philby. A Splinter of Ice arrives after an acclaimed national tour. Ben Brown’s (Three Days in May) political drama is directed by Alan Strachan with Alastair Whatley, and stars Olivier Award winner Oliver Ford Davies (Game of Thrones) as Graham Greene, Stephen Boxer (The Crown) as Kim Philby, with Karen Ascoe as his wife Rufa.
Following Beckett’s All That Fall and the Beckett Triple Bill, Jermyn Street Theatre has a history of staging Samuel Beckett’s work, and this autumn the theatre uncovers two more of his rarely performed gems. Multi award-winning Dame Siân Phillips (I, Claudius, Under Milk Wood) and Charlotte Emmerson (Food of Love, The Cherry Orchard) are directed by Richard Beecham in an unmissable double bill of Footfalls & Rockaby which runs from 3 to 20 November 2021.
Rounding off the season where Jermyn Street Theatre left off before the first lockdown eighteen months ago, Michael Pennington (pictured) one of the foremost Shakespearean actors of his generation returns to the theatre to don Prospero’s cloak once more. Artistic Director Tom Littler’s production of The Tempest opened in March 2020 to critical acclaim but was cut short after just six performances. It sails again from 25 November through to 22 December 2021, with the original cast reunited.
Artistic Director Tom Littler said:
“When The Tempest’s Miranda encounters other humans for the first time she cries: ‘Oh brave new world, that has such people in it!’ We’ve built the Encounters Season around that moment of meeting – contrasting figures in an English garden, in a Moscow flat, in a dark house, on a remote island – coming face to face and trying to understand each other.
“Programming and producing are more of a challenge than ever, and the lack of insurance leaves us vulnerable. But we are very excited to be announcing this season of four brilliant plays featuring some of our finest actors, and I look forward to reuniting with the company of The Tempest to continue our interrupted journey.”
The theatre also confirmed it will be keeping its requirement for audiences to remain masked throughout performances, and announced that it will host a series of socially distanced performances on Monday nights. Plans for streamed versions of some of the productions will be announced in due course.