Previewed 1 May 2013, Opened 7 May 2013, Closed 3 August 2013 at the Duke's of York Theatre in London
A major revival of Peter Nichols' Passion Play in London starring ZoŽ Wanamaker and Owen Teale and directed by David Leveaux.
When trust fails, love dies. Confronted with adultery Eleanor and James discover the limits of their long marriage. Is this an opportunity to take a fresh look at their lives? or will it lead to heartbreak and loneliness? A black comedy about love and infidelity.
The cast for this revival of Passion Play in London features Zoe Wanamaker as 'Eleanor' and Owen Teale as 'James' with, as their 'alter-egos', Samantha Bond as 'Nell' and Oliver Cotton as 'Jim' along with Si‚n Thomas as 'Agnes', Annabel Scholey as 'Kate', Kelly Burke and Matt Weyland. The production is directed by David Leveaux with set designs by Hildegard Bechtler, costumes by Laura Hopkins, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Fergus O'Hare.
Peter Nichols' Passion Play first premiered in 1981, winning the Evening Standard Theatre Award for 'Best Play' and ranks alongside Peter Nichols' other works including Privates on Parade (at the Noel Coward Theatre from 1 December 2012 to 2 March 2013) as one of the most celebrated plays of the last twenty years.
"Peter Nichols's searing, skilful study of the destructive force of adultery is 32 years old, but only occasionally shows its age - and is anyway given little chance to in David Leveaux's well-paced production. Eleanor and James are a model of middle-aged contentment until the younger Kate makes what at first seems a ludicrously unlikely pass at James. Here Nichols experiments: James's alter-ego Jim is introduced, then soon afterwards Nell, Eleanor's other mental half, appears on stage too. It's a brilliant way of showing the teeming mental angst of this torrid situation: at one point Eleanor faces up to a terrible truth stoically, while her inward self, Nell, crumples... A cracking play performed by crack actors." The Sunday Times
"Peter Nichols's play about a married couple's affairs may have felt pretty lively in 1982 but 30 years on, it feels like a bit of an heirloom. Art dealer James has been faithfully married to his chorister wife Eleanor for 25 years but when Kate, the man-eating young widow of an old friend, seduces him over dinner he can't keep his trousers on... Although Zoe Wanamaker invests Eleanor with the right mix of sexuality and emotional desolation, Owen Teale has a much harder job making James'a sympathetic figure. David Leveaux's nifty production, framed by the soaring score of St Matthew Passion, underscores the disparity between the passion James thinks he is indulging in and the more tawdry reality. Yet Passion Play relies essentially on old-school caricatures: selfish husband, fragile wife and sexpot mistress." The Metro
"There may be nothing funny about adultery, but the havoc wreaked upon a marriage by an affair is the subject of this clever and amusing play... The ingenious trick is that while James and Eleanor navigate the progress of his affair, the actors are joined on stage by identically dressed alter egos who voice what they are really thinking. It is a tricky device, but carried off seamlessly, helped by the excellent performances... Packed with black humour, and staged with wit and ingenuity, it's a fast paced and laugh packed evening, but also ultimately a powerful portrayal of the raw pain of emotional betrayal." The Sunday Mirror
"It was written in 1981, so illicit calls are made from telephone boxes and incriminating letters written, but nothing has dated the brutally bruising experience of betrayal... Zoe Wanamaker is at her most compelling. Initially as springy as her curls, confident of her husband's love, she almost visibly caves in, crushed by grief. At the end, this tiny, near-mute husk says, 'I won't be second-best.' But we will never know if Eleanor will have Nell's strength to leave. Nichols's doubling devices leave that hanging, adding to the play's haunting and provocative power. Owen Teale's transformation is just as dramatic, but ugly and awful, from rumpled, sweaty novice liar to practised and plausible deceiver. Not a date play, perhaps, but essential viewing for couples." The Mail on Sunday
ZoŽ Wanamaker's recent West End theatre credits include playing opposite David Suchet in Howard Davies's 2010 revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons at the Apollo Theatre, Phyllida Lloyd's 2001 West End Premiere of David Mamet's Boston Marriage at the Ambassasors Theatre and Michael Blakemore's 1996 West End Premiere of A R Gurney's Sylvia at the Apollo Theatre. David Leveaux's recent London theatre directing credit include the 2011 stage adaptation of Iain Softley's 1994 film Backbeat at the Duke of York's Theatre; a revival of Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia in 2009 at the Duke of York's Theatre; the 2006 bio-musical Sinatra at the London Palladium; and a major revival of Tom Stoppard's play Jumpers starring Simon Russell Beale at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 2003, and subsequent transfer to the Piccadilly Theatre.
Passion Play in London at the Duke's of York Theatre previewed from 1 May 2013, opened on 7 May 2013 and closed on 3 August 2013.