Collaboration

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Previewed 22 May 2009, opened 27 May 2009, closed 29 August 2009 at the Duchess Theatre in London

Ronald Harwood's play Collaboration in London at the Duchess Theatre starring Michael Pennington.

Collaboration begins in 1931 in a spirit of optimism as composer Richard Strauss and writer Stephan Zweig embark on an invigorating artistic partnership. But Zweig is a Jew and the Nazis are on the march. Is it possible to keep artistic aspiration and political action separate? How fine is the line between collaboration and betrayal? Collaboration plays in repertory with Ronald Harwood's play Taking Sides. Written as companion pieces, separate plays designed to complement each other, Collaboration and Taking Sides both explore the fine line between collaboration and betrayal during the Second World War. Both productions come into London's West End following two successful seasons at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 2008 and 2009.

The cast features Michael Pennington as 'Richard Strauss' and David Horovitch as 'Stefan Zweig'. The production is directed by Philip Franks with original music by Matthew Scott, designs by Simon Higlett, lighting by Mark Jonathan and sound by John Leonard. Michael Pennington's London theatre credits include Janet Suzman's revival of Ferenc Molnar's The Guardsman at the Albery Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre) in 2000. David Horovitch's West End credits include Sue Townsend's The Queen and I at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1994.

"[ Collaboration] is Ronald Harwood's best play. Like his next best play, Taking Sides, it's about the moral entrapment of a famous musician in Nazi Germany. Richard Strauss was a jewel in the Nazis' cultural crown - until he chose the Jewish writer Stefan Zweig as his librettist. Their relationship is lovingly and brilliantly sketched: Strauss , an excitable old lion, Zweig, an exquisitely polite, cautious, inward-looking Jew - two inspired, self-absorbed neurotics collaborating in mutual admiration." The Sunday Times

"Collaboration, which premiered at Chichester last summer, concerns Richard Strauss, the jewel in Hitler's cultural crown, who, in the Jewish writer Stefan Zweig, found the ideal collaborator. Zweig wrote the libretti for several of Strauss's best operas. A snowy-haired, excitable Michael Pennington gives us a portrait of Strauss as dreamily apolitical and conveniently naive, less alarmed by the Fuhrer than by his own battle-axe hausfrau played by the excellent Isla Blair. To protect his Jewish daughter-in-law and grandchildren, Strauss co-operates with the barbaric regime, accepting the presidency of the Reich Chamber of Music. David Horovitch's much odder, acutely shy and neurotic Zweig becomes defiant and exiles himself with his young wife to Brazil. Driven to despair by what his country has become, they commit suicide, an act Strauss judges to be the ultimate collaboration with the Nazis because it does their ugly work for them. The final image of Pennington's Strauss shattered and crushed by his friend's death - and, surely, guilt and shame at his own role - is the one that lingers." The Mail on Sunday

Collaboration in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 22 May 2009, opened on 27 May 2009 and closed on 29 August 2009 - played in repertory with Taking Sides).