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Toby Stephens and Claire Skinner to star in West End revival of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

Claire Skinner

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

TOBY Stephens and Claire Skinner return to the West End stage this autumn in Peter Nichols’ funny and moving masterpiece A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. Directed by Simon Evans (Killer Joe, Arturo Ui), it runs at Trafalgar Studios from October 2 (previews from September 21) to November 30, 2019.

This revival of Nichols’ acclaimed bittersweet comedy reunites two of the greatest actors of their generation. The stars, who last worked together 18 years ago on the award-winning BBC TV drama Perfect Strangers, will now be performing on stage together for the very first time.

Bri (Stephens) and Sheila (Skinner) have been struggling to care for their disabled 10-year old daughter Josephine ever since she was born. Nicknaming her “Joe Egg”, they lose themselves in fantasy games and black humour to help cope with the struggle of their daily reality. This remarkable story challenges all our assumptions on the limits of love and the power of family.

Inspired by Nichols’ own experience of bringing up his disabled daughter in the 1960s, Joe Egg was one of the ground-breaking plays of its generation and the issues faced by two parents in this bittersweet comedy still resonate with audiences today, breaking your heart one minute and filling it with warmth the next.

Toby Stephens said: “I’m thrilled to be part of a revival of this fantastic play. Reading it for the first time, I couldn’t believe that it had been written in the late sixties; it felt so vivid, dark and anarchically funny. The play still feels very raw and relevant, today. I’m very glad to be working with Claire Skinner again after quite a long interval – some 18 years! I think she is a very fine actor and I was really excited to hear that she wanted to do the play as well.”

Claire Skinner said: “I’m really looking forward to coming back to the West End with this complex, thought provoking and funny play and I’m also looking forward to working with Toby again after 18 years!”

Simon Evans said: “At a time when the act of living well from day to day seems tougher than ever, I can’t help but resonate with the characters in Joe Egg: displaying such wit, weakness, cruelty and courage as they struggle on. I’ve been a fan of Toby and Claire for years and the opportunity to explore Bri and Sheila with actors of their calibre, and share Peter’s seminal play again with a London audience, is such an honour.”

Further casting will be announced in due course.

Toby Stephens

Toby Stephens’ theatre includes: Oslo, Private Lives (Chichester Festival Theatre/Gielgud Theatre), Danton’s Death (NT), The Real Thing (Old Vic), A Doll’s House and Betrayal (Donmar Warehouse), Japes, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Country Wife (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Wallenstein, Unfinished Business, Tamburlaine, The Pilate Workshop, Hamlet – title role – Measure for Measure, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Coriolanus – title role – All’s Well That Ends Well and Antony and Cleopatra (all for the RSC), Britannicus (Almeida), Phèdre (Almeida and Brooklyn Academy Of Music), Tartuffe (Playhouse) and Ring Round the Moon (Lincoln Center).

Stephens’ screen work includes Lost in Space, Summer Rockets, Black Sails, And Then There Were None, Vexed, Robin Hood , Wired, The Wild West, Jane Eyre, The Best Man, The Queen’s Sister, Cambridge Spies, Perfect Strangers and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (TV); 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, The Machine, Believe, All Things To All Men, Severance, The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey, Die Another Day, Possession, The Announcement, Onegin, Photographing Fairies, Sunset Heights, Cousin Bette and The Great Gatsby (film).

Claire Skinner’s theatre includes: Mrs Affleck, The Winter’s Tale, Othello, Blurred Lines and Invisible Friends (National Theatre), Measure for Measure and The Blue Angel (RSC), The Father (Tricycle Theatre/Wyndhams Theatre), The Importance of Being Earnest (Aldwych Theatre), The Glass Menagerie (Donmar Warehouse/Comedy Theatre), Moonlight (Almeida/Comedy Theatre), Death Trap (Noel Coward Theatre), Rabbit Hole and Prism (Hampstead Theatre) and most recently Nightfall (The Bridge).

Skinner’s screen work includes Outnumbered, Power Monkeys, Next of Kin, Vanity Fair, Sense and Sensibility, Inside No 9, Critical, Mr Understood and Dr Who (TV); Life is Sweet and Naked (film).

As well as A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg, Peter Nichols’ plays for theatre include The National Health, Forget-Me-Not Lane, The Freeway, Chez Nous, Privates On Parade, Born In The Gardens, Passion Play, Poppy, Blue Murder (later Fig-Leaves), So Long Life, A Piece Of My Mind and Lingua Franca. These have won four Evening Standard Awards, a Society of West End Theatres Award for Best Comedy and two Ivor Novello Best Musical Awards. The 1985 Broadway revival of A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg received a Tony Award for Best Reproduction of a Play.

Official Website.

Tickets: From £25. To book, call the box office on 0844 871 7632 or visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/trafalgar-studios/.

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7:30pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2:30pm.