Festen

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 15 September 2004, opened 23 September 2004, closed 16 April 2005 at the Lyric Theatre in London

David Eldridge's English Language stage adaptation of Festen (The Celebration) from the original Dogme film and play.

Patriarch Helge Klingenfelt is celebrating his 60th birthday with his family at a magnificent old hotel in the Danish countryside. Gathered together are his loyal wife Elsa, his daughter Helene, and sons Christian and Michael. As the evening progresses Christian feels compelled to break the silence surrounding a dark family secret. The effect is explosive and sets the tone for a celebration no-one will forget!

The cast for Festen in London features Jane Asher as 'Else', Sam Beazley as 'Grandfather', Rory Kinnear as 'Michael', Luke Mably as 'Christian' and Stephen Moore as 'Helge' along with Sam Cox, Andrew Frame, Andrew Maud, Ruth Millar, Lisa Palfrey, Patrick Robinson, Claire Rushbrook and Michael Thomas (casting up to 15 January 2005). Dramatisation by David Eldridge, based on the Dogme film and play by Thomas Vinterberg, Mogens Rukov and Bo hr. Hansen. Directed by Rufus Norris with designs by Ian MacNeil, costume designs by Joan Wadge, music by Orlando Gough and sound by Paul Arditti. Originally staged at The Almeida Thatre in North London from 25 March to 1 May 2004. PLEASE NOTE: This production is suitable for over 15's only.

"A seriousy weird mix of Hamlet and The Last Supper, Festen - which opened last night - comes to the West End by an unusual route. It was originally a 1998 Danish movie, made by a minimalist company which believed in a kind of realist antiHollywood cinema, and from there it moved as a play to the Almeida six months ago, only now to complete its journey to central London with a somewhat revised cast... At times this is an immediate and chilling drama of a family in crisis, presided over by Jane Asher's regal mother determined to carry on with the banquet regardless. At others it becomes a surrealist nightmare in which nothing and nobody is quite what first appears... Director Rufus Norris has brilliantly staged this production on the borderlines where reality and memory, dream and nightmare, crash into each other, and Paul Arditti gives us a soundtrack of childhood memories which is never less than haunting." The Daily Express

"For an impeccably constructed story, plus much more, simply cross town to the Almeida, where the Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg's 1997 Dogme film Festen has been adapted for the stage by the young playwright David Eldridge and the director Rufus Norris... You should see the play whether you have seen the film or not. The story loses none of its impact on repeated viewing, and it works terrifically well on stage; a credit to Norris, who has used what might be a limitation - a small and dark space - to heighten and intensify the claustrophobic atmosphere that results from the ritualised kowtowing that a powerful bully demands to endorse his corruption. The film's touches of black comedy also flourish on stage." The Sunday Telegraph

"[A] dazzling adaptation from the big screen. Rufus Norris's production is filled with inspired touches, not least the eerie sound effects: the ghostly giggles of a little girl, the dripping tap, the haunting clink of a spoon on a wine glass to herald yet another horrifying revelation (rape for starters) at this hellish dinner party celebrating Daddy's 60th birthday. Something is very rotten in the state of this Danish family, which resembles that of Shakespeare's Hamlet in many tragic ways. A daughter has already been driven to suicide and her surviving twin is determined that the truth will out. Recast for the West End transfer from the Almeida Theatre, Stephen Moore is too slight, too woolly and lacks menace as the overbearing patriarch. But Rory Kinnear is the business as Michael, the uncomplicated bruiser, and Luke Mably makes a remarkable debut as the tormented twin, Christian." The Mail on Sunday

Festen in London at the Lyric Theatre previewed from 15 September 2004, opened on 23 September 2004 and closed on 16 April 2005.