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Previewed 10 July 2008, Opened 16 July 2008, Closed 4 October 2008 at the Vaudeville Theatre in London
Joanna Murray-Smith's play The Female Of The Species in London starring Dame Eileen Atkins and directed by Roger Michell.
Margot Mason, is a feminist literary giant suffering an extreme case of writer's block as deadline after deadline comes and goes on her next book. When a young fan arrives unexpectedly at her country home, Margot's world slowly and comically begins to unravel as family and friends show up and debate the virtues of her best-sellers, her inconsistent world view, and her decidedly un-motherly touch.
The cast for The Female Of The Species in London stars Eileen Atkins as 'Margot', Anna Maxwell Martin as 'Molly' and Sophie Thompson as 'Tess' along with Paul Chahidi as 'Bryan', Con O'Neill as 'Frank' and Sam Kelly as 'Theo'. The production is directed by Roger Michell with designs by Mark Thompson, lighting by James Whiteside and sound by Matt McKenzie.
Joanna Murray-Smith's previous plays include Honour which was originally seen in London in 2003 at The National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre and which was revived at London's Wyndham's Theatre in the Spring 2006 in a production starring Diana Rigg. Eileen Atkins' recent West End theatre credits include Edward Bond's The Sea (Haymarket Theatre 2008), Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party (Duchess Theatre 2005) and her own play Vita and Virginia (Ambassadors Theatre 1993). Roger Michell's West End theatre credits include the National Theatre's production of Joe Penhall's play Blue/Orange (Duchess Theatre 2001). Con O'Neill's West End theatre credits include Telstar (Ambassadors Theatre 2005), The Blues Brothers (Whitehall Theatre, now Trafalgar Studios, 1991) and Blood Brothers (Albery Theatre, now Noel Coward Theatre, 1988).
"In Joanna Murray-Smith's smart new farce, The Female Of The Species... the starting point of the play borrows from the real-life incident when Germaine Greer was taken hostage by a student. Doubtless Greer will let us know how closely Margot resembles her. If I were Greer, I'd be flattered by Dame Eileen Atkins's razorsharp performance as a foul-mouthed, unflappable, charmingly arrogant feminist celeb with writer's block who has sacrificed her humanity to her intellectual life. While Murray-Smith has enormous fun with feminism, her more serious target is motherhood and what it really means... Roger Michell's expertly performed production can't disguise the fact that this flawed farce is actually a series of viewpoints that arrive in a series of unexpected visitors. It runs out of steam well before the end. But the jokes keep coming, fast and flippant." The Mail on Sunday
"Just when it looked as if the musical was about to kill off the straight play, out strides Dame Eileen Atkins on to the stage of the Vaudeville Theatre and makes as eloquent a case as it's possible to imagine for why we must fight to preserve this noble art form. The Female of the Species is great theatre... the play is not only deliriously funny but also very clever... Anna Maxwell Martin offers able support, along with Sophie Thompson as Margot's stressed-out daughter, Paul Chahidi as her ineffectual son-in-law, and Sam Kelly as her agent. They are adroitly directed by Roger Michell, whose last collaboration with his star and writer was Honour, which won an Olivier Award." The Sunday Telegraph
"Feminist writer and TV pundit Germaine Greer was famously taken hostage in her own home eight years ago, by a 19-year-old student stalker who tied her up and hung on to her legs, crying, 'Mummy, mummy!' That wasn't funny but the play Joanna Murray-Smith has based on it - examining the disillusion that for many women was a spin-off from aggressive feminism- certainly is... Ace director Roger Michell's production is a hilarious but thought-provoking delight and I loved it. Germaine Greer didn't - she's livid. She may want a word with her agent, who gets a note of thanks in the programme." The Sun
The Female Of The Species in London at the Vaudeville Theatre previewed from 10 July 2008, opened on 16 July 2008 and closed on 4 October 2008.