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Jermyn Street Theatre announces new Portrait Season for Spring and Summer 2019

Tom Littler. Photo by Mark Douet.

Season preview

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 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 casting possibilities.

The 2019 Portrait Season comprises:

The world premiere of Rose Heiney’s Original Death Rabbit. Directed by Hannah Joss, it runs from January 11 (previews from January 9) to February 9.

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.

Trevor Nunn’s world premiere production of Harley Granville Barker’s Agnes Colander: An Attempt at Life. Revised by Richard Nelson, it runs from February 18 (previews from February 12) to March 16.

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, Harley 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.

The new play Mary’s Babies by Maud Dromgoole. Directed by Tatty Hennesy, it runs from March 22 (previews from March 20) to April 13.

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. The result – a thousand children, the ‘Barton Brood’, with no idea about their shared father; meeting each other; making friends; having babies…

Maud 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.

Howard Brenton’s new adaptations of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie and Creditors. Directed by Tom Littler, they run in repertory from April 25 to June 1.

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 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 by Oscar Wilde in an adaptation by Lucy Shaw. Directed by Tom Littler, it runs from June 5 to July 6.

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?

Lucy 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.

Tom Littler – Jermyn Street Theatre Artistic Director – 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 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.

For more information and to book tickets, call the box office on 020 7287 2875 or visit www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk/.

Read about Jermyn Street Theatre’s Autumn 2018 Season.

Image: Tom Littler. Photo by Mark Douet.