The Misanthrope

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Previewed 7 December 2009, Opened 17 December 2009, Closed 13 March 2010 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London

A major revival of Molière's comedy The Misanthrope in London starring Keira Knightley, Damian Lewis, Tara Fitzgerald and Dominic Rowan.

Molière's The Misanthrope has been transported from 17th century Paris to modern-day London where Alceste is a famous British playwright disillusioned and angry with the hypocrisy, shallowness and vanity of the contemporary world. Vowing to reject society, Alceste's plans are derailed when he falls madly in love with Jennifer. An ambitious American film star and darling of the social scene, she may prove to be his biggest challenge yet.

The cast for Molière's The Misanthrope in London features Keira Knightley as 'Jennifer', Damian Lewis as 'Alceste', Tara Fitzgerald and Dominic Rowan, Tim McMullan, Chuk Iwuji, Kelly Price and Nicholas Le Pevost. It is presented in a version by Martin Crimp and is directed by Thea Sharrock with set designs by Hildegard Bechtler, costume designs by AMy Roberts, lighting by Peter Mumford and sound by Ian Dickson.

Keira Knightley's extensive film credits include the award-winning Atonement opposite James McAvoy, The Duchess, Pride And Prejudice and as 'Elizabeth Swann' in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. She originally established herself as a film actress in the surprise film hit Bend It Like Beckham. Damian Lewis is best known for Band Of Brothers, the Steven Spielberg's award-winning mini series. His most recent London stage credits include Pillars of the Community at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre and Five Gold Rings at the Almeida Theatre. Tara Fitzgerald's extensive credits include playing the role of 'Dr Eve Lockhart' in the BBC Television's popular drama series Waking The Dead. Her London stage credits include A Doll's House at the Donmar Warehouse and And Then There Were None at the Gielgud Theatre. Dominic Rowan's stage credit include A Voyage Around My Father at the Donmar Warehouse and transfer to Wyndham's Theatre, Happy Now? at the National Theatre and As You Like It at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. His television credits include Catwalk Dogs Lynda La Plante's Trial and Retribution, The Family Man with Trevor Eve and Hearts And Bones.

"The burning question about this latest production of Martin Crimp's mordern take on Moliere's comedy of manners is, obviously, is Keira Knightley any good? In short, yes: she's much better than her (canny) pre-first night pronouncements would have you to believe but - beautiful as she is - she doesn't command as much attention on stage as you'd hope... Damian Lewis relishes his role as self-appointed ranting outcast, delivering Crimp's clever, fluid verse with elan and delightedly toying with the post-modernism of the whole occasion. Thea Sharrock's production has the boldness and vigour that Crimp's script needs, plus an excellent sporting cast. Whether Crimp's update is built to last in the same way as Moliere's classic is doubtful but it makes for a boisterously entertaining evening." The London Metro

"Despite her ladylike looks, 24-year-old Keira Knightley is well known for having a full fruity vocabulary. Here she comfortably, if a bit quietly, brings both together in her first major stage role... Rhyme Writer Martin Crimp has taken Molière's 17th century comedy about the self-centred French court and re-written the story. Remarkably, it's still in rhyme but is now scattered with the F-word and funny asides about the BBC and Andrew Lloyd Webber... Cleverly linked to the 1600s, especially in a great closing scene, Molière will be rocking and rolling (rather than turning) in his grave." The News of the World

"One can see what appealed to Keira Knightley in Moliere's The Misanthrope, with its themes of the transience and vacuousness of society's beautiful people. I fancy the star wanted this play to say something about how she felt about the point she had reached in life... Her beautiful features, which lend themselves so perfectly to close-up shots on screen, seem suddenly diluted and diminished on stage. She does, however, have a presence on the stage and her lines are delivered with sensitivity. The real problem with this production is Martin Crimp, the achingly fashionable playwright charged with adapting and updating this classic... The romance that ensues between a man seeking greater meaning in life and a woman who epitomises meaninglessness is a comical affair in the original, but what has emerged from the other side of Crimp's word- processor looks more like an end-of-term play at a school at the bottom end of the Government's league tables." The Sunday Telegraph

The Misanthrope in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre previewed from 7 December 2009, opened on 17 December 2009 and closed on 13 March 2010.