The Seven Year Itch

Previewed 2 October 2000, Opened 9 October 2000, Closed 9 December 2000 at the Queen's Theatre in London

A major revival of George Axelrod's comedy The Seven Year Itch starring Daryl Hannah for a strictly limited season

The Seven Year Itch tells the story of Richard Sherman, a New York publishing executive whose wife and son depart for their summer holidays out of town, leaving him to fend for himself. As he tries to quit smoking and stay of the booze, he encounters his new upstairs neighbour, an exquisitely beautiful and extremely friendly young woman (played in the movie by Marilyn Monroe) who provokes him into the most extravagant flights of fantasy. The man has been married for seven years and faithful throughout that time. But as anyone who has ever had an itch knows, sometimes you've just got to have a stratch...

The cast for this stage version features Daryl Hannah in her West End stage debut along with Rolf Saxon. Directed by Michael Radford with designs by Tim Goodchild and lighting by Howard Harrison.

George Axelrod's 1952 play is best known for Billy Wilder's 1955 film version starring Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell. The stage play was first produced in London's West End at the Aldwych Theatre in a production that opened on 14 May 1953 and starred Rosemary Harris and Brian Reece. Playing for just over nine months, it closed on 27 February 1954. Adrienne Posta and Patrick Mower starred in the first West End revival which opened at the Albery Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre) on 21 February 1985, running for just over three months up to 8 June 1985.

"When one learnt from the pre-publicity that Hannah had never appeared on a stage, anywhere, before, and that she was receiving hypnotherapy for chronic stage fright, it looked like a grotesquely cynical case of celebrity casting, and a recipe for disaster. In fact, although the play is occasionally creaky and its star's inexperience sometimes shows, the evening turns out to be a real pleasure, and Hannah is an irresistible delight... There are undoubtedly moments from the film that you miss in the stage version offered here. The dialogue isn't quite so sharp, and no one can entirely banish the memory of Monroe, especially in the unforgettable sequence when she stands over a subway grille with the breeze blowing up that fabulous white dress. Hannah has a game attempt at recreating the moment by undoing a few buttons in front of a domestic fan, but it doesn't cause quite the same frisson... Rolf Saxon runs through a hilarious riot of emotions as a middle-aged married man enduring all the agonies of lust and guilt, as well as the fleeting ecstasy, of a one-night stand with an impossibly lovely girl. There, too, the play is more honest and more touching than the film, which balked at the possibility of a fully consummated night of passion. But Michael Radford's endearing production, with its evocative Manhattan-in-the-Fifties design by Tim Goodchild, will be best remembered for Hannah's brave and delicious stage debut." The Daily Telegraph

"George Axelrod's 1952 comedy preceded Billy Wilder's film by two years, but it's the film we remember, because Marilyn Monroe sensuously fluted and creamily fluttered through the role of the aspiring actress... Hannah gives a more thoughtful performance, puckering and wincing, whinnying and whimpering as she communicates the unease of a slightly gormless babe yet to find her sexual and emotional feet. But has she the effortless charisma to explain why Rolf Saxon's Richard, who has been left by his wife to work through the New York summer, boggles and gulps so much? Yes, Hannah is attractive; but, no, you can't believe she would launch a thousand ships and leave one middle-aged publishing executive screaming for a lifebelt... Richard wants his seven-year marriage to stay intact, but also his youth back. The play is largely his flummoxed monologue, interspersed with his fantasies: fun but not spellbinding fun... And when a comedy itself needs comic relief, which it gets in the form of Anthony O'Donnell as a psychiatrist with a funny accent, you know something is amiss." The Times

The Seven Year Itch in London at the Queen's Theatre previewed from 2 October 2000, opened on 9 October 2000 and closed on 9 December 2000