Jermyn Street Theatre launches into its 25th anniversary year with a season of work that brings together celebrated theatrical figures Trevor Nunn and Howard Brenton with a rich array of exciting new talent. The PORTRAIT Season, which runs from January to July 2019, comprises a diverse programme with a common thread. A thread that scrutinises and interprets complex lives, painting individual characters and revealing how the intricacies of appearance can change with differing perspectives.
The season includes Trevor Nunn’s London premiere of Harley Granville Barker’s Agnes Colander: An Attempt at Life, revised by Richard Nelson; the world premiere of Howard Brenton’s new version of August Strindberg’s Creditors; and Lucy Shaw’s bold new adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s classic novel, Pictures of Dorian Gray, which explores how the nuances of the story can change with the four different, gender-swapping casting possibilities.
Commenting on the new season, artistic director Tom Littler said:
“Jermyn Street Theatre turns 25 next year and we’re celebrating with this exciting season. The Portrait Season offers an incredible selection of work that combines theatrical legends with the best new talent. What can a small theatre do best? Perhaps an intimate view of humanity. All six plays take a close-up look at complex lives, circling the theme of perspective.”
Jermyn Street Theatre has also announced the appointment of Louie Whitemore as Associate Designer. Whitemore’s recent work at Jermyn Street Theatre includes Tonight at 8.30 / Tomorrow at Noon, The Hound of the Baskervilles and Miss Julie, all nominated for OffWestEnd Awards for Best Set Design.
The 2019 Portrait season
Original Death Rabbit
9 January to 9 February 2019
The world premiere of Rose Heiney’s new play directed by Hannah Joss. Original Death Rabbit is a tale of our time. What happens when a young woman is photographed at the back of a child’s funeral dressed as a giant rabbit? As her image goes viral, so things spiral out of control and her life falls apart. Rose Heiney’s searing comedy, now rewritten for the stage, was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Original Death Rabbit explores the narcissism of the social media age and shines a light on one woman’s struggle with the dark side of the Internet.
Agnes Colander: An Attempt at Life
12 February to 16 March 2019
Trevor Nunn’s world premiere production of Harley Granville Barker‘s “lost” 1900 play, revised by Richard Nelson, transfers from Theatre Royal Bath. Three years after leaving her unfaithful husband and striking out as an artist, Agnes receives his letter ordering her home. But Agnes married young; her innocence has gone and her ambition is growing. Fleeing to France to find a new future, Agnes is pursued by the besotted Alec and worldly-wise Otho. Beset on all sides, can Agnes seize the chance to shape her own life?
Hailed as a long-lost masterpiece, Granville Barker’s exploration of love, sexual attraction and independence was written in 1900 and unearthed in the British Library a century later. Following an acclaimed run at the Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath, Trevor Nunn’s world premiere production receives its London premiere.
20 March to 13 April 2019
A new play by Maud Dromgoole and directed by Tatty Hennesy. Mary Barton, a pioneer of fertility treatment, thought her husband was perfect. And doesn’t every child deserve the perfect father? So Mary used her husband’s sperm to impregnate up to a thousand women, and then burnt all the records. A thousand resulting children, the ‘Barton Brood’, with no idea about their shared father. Meeting each other. Making friends. Having babies.
Dromgoole’s play is based on the true story of Mary Barton and the Barton Brood, researched through surveys and interviews. Provocative, funny, and fascinating, it imagines a series of encounters between these unknowing half-siblings.
Miss Julie / Creditors
25 April to 1 June 2019
Howard Brenton’s new adaptations of August Strindberg’s classics are directed by artistic director Tom Littler, running in repertory. Midsummer’s Eve, Sweden, 1888. A night when the sun doesn’t set. A night of drinking and dancing. A night to break the rules. When Julie finds herself alone on her father’s estate, she gate-crashes the servants’ party. In the sultry heat of that long, light night, she finds herself in a dangerous tryst with her father’s manservant, Jean. A flirtatious game descends into a savage fight for survival. Miss Julie returns to Jermyn Street Theatre following its 2017 sold-out run.
In the same summer that he wrote Miss Julie, Strindberg penned the play he considered his masterpiece. Creditors tells the story of Adolph, a young artist, deeply and in love with his new wife Tekla. She’s intelligent, educated, and experienced. He loves her independence and sophistication. Sometimes he worries he’s not her equal. But a chance meeting with a suave stranger in a seaside hotel shakes Adolph’s devotion to the core.
Pictures Of Dorian Gray
5 June to 6 July 2019
Lucy Shaw‘s new adaptation is directed by Tom Littler. In Oscar Wilde’s iconic novel, sophisticated, amoral aristocrat Henry Wotton seduces the beautiful Dorian Gray into a life of sin and hedonism in fin-de-siecle London. Dorian sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty – and only his portrait seems to age. But will Dorian’s pact have a price?
Shaw’s bold and beautiful new adaptation retains all the glittering wit of Wilde’s writing. The cast switch roles, creating four different casting possibilities, performed on different nights. A female Dorian looks at the portrait. And a male face looks back at her.