Duke of York's Theatre Archive

Current show: Mary Stuart from 13 January to 31 March 2018

Having opened in London's West End at the Ambassadors Theatre just three months previous, Marie Jones' two-hander comedy Stones in his Pockets proved to be such a hit that it moved here to the larger Duke of York's Theatre in August 2000 where it enjoyed a successful run of just under three years before it transferred back to the Ambassadors Theatre in July 2003. The next production here at the Duke of York's Theatre was a three month run of Polly Teale's After Mrs Rochester. Presented by Shared Experience Theatre Company, it arrived in the West End following a successful regional tour. Primarily based on Jean Rhys' prequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre called Wide Sargasso Sea, the play also retold Jean's own life and revealing how her obsession with Jane Eyre resulted in her own critically acclaimed novel. Stephen Poliakoff's new play Sweet Panic opened for a three month run in November 2003 starring Jane Horrocks as a once confident psychologist who is forced to re-appraise both her own life and that of the young people who are in her charge. Although a new play, Stephen Poliakoff conceived the play seven years previously, when his own children were just five and eleven, while earlier in 2003 he had written the screenplay for the television drama The Lost Prince, about the youngest child of King George V and Queen Mary, who died at the age of 13 in 1919 having suffered from epileptic seizures and an autism-like developmental disorder. Poliakoff said that "when I was writing The Lost Prince it made me look at how they dealt with problem children in that era, and think about how far we have travelled. Obviously there is more humanity today in the way we treat them and talk to them. But whether we have any more understanding of their problems, or any more ability to give them a better life, I really don't know. It is a hugely under resourced area. There are enormous numbers of children, especially boys, with huge difficulties in reading, learning and expressing their emotions. Not all from poor families at all. It goes right across society."

The first new production of 2004 was Michael Hastings' new play Calico which opened in March 2004. A lively portrayal of James Joyce, his wife, his disturbed daughter, and his secretary, Samuel Beckett, the play featured Imelda Staunton as James Joyce's wife, Nora Barnacle. "She was married to the most famous man in Europe, and she wasn't the least intimidated by it," Imelda Staunton said. "They had dinner with the crème de la crème, and she'd hold her own or, if she couldn't hold her own, just sit there completely silent and not bother with the other people. She'd go: I deserve to be here and you're boring, you're just talking about books, so I'm not talking to you. That sort of feistiness is peculiarly Irish. So is the feeling of 'don't get on your high horse, or I'll bring you down a couple of pegs and no mistake'." Performing the play she described how the playwright "Michael Hastings plunges you straight into this rich language and strong emotions. Its 2,000 volts from the start. You are on, you're off, you're on again. There's no dressing-room time at all. There are no long scenes saying, ahh, hello, so you're Mr Beckett, are you? There's no time to get nervous. You have to be firing on all cylinders from the word go. Nought to 60 in ten seconds." Unfortunately the play closed early after just four weeks to be replaced by Simon Gray's The Holy Terror, revised from his earlier play titled Melon which had run at the Haymarket Theatre in 1987. Now starring Simon Callow in the central role of 'Mark Melon', an arrogant, manipulative, cunning and ruthless book publisher, the play closed early after a run of just four weeks. Fortunately the next show at the Duke of York's Theatre fared better - arriving in London's West End following a ten month run on Broadway, the play Dirty Blonde opened here in June 2004. Written by and starring Claudia Shear, this 'quirky comedy' revolved around two obsessive Mae West fans who fall in love after meeting at her gravesite. Starring the entire original cast of three who all reprised their roles for this London transfer which enjoyed an eleven week run.

David Grindley's revival production of R C Sheriff's Journey's End transferred here from the Playhouse Theatrein October 2004 for a run of just over four months before it transferred again to the Ambassadors Theatre. The next production here at the Duke of York's Theatre was a major 12 week revival directed by Sir Peter Hall of Ronald Harwood's comedy-drama The Dresser which starred Julian Glover and Nicholas Lyndhurst. Following a sell-out season at the Almeida Theatre in North London earlier in 2005, Richard Eyre's revival of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler transferred here from May 2005 for an eleven week season. The production featured Eve Best in the title role along with Iain Glen as 'Judge Brack'. Iain Glen was attracted to the role because "he's an enigma, and I was drawn to him because I feel he's very open to interpretation," Glen explained. He's not untypical of a certain sort of man - he's unable to commit to a married state, so he creates triangular relationships. There are men who can divorce, well, not exactly sex from love, but they can compartmentalise their lives. Yet Brack's feelings for both Hedda and her husband are in earnest. It's very subtle and complex."

In August 2005 a new farce by Ray Cooney and his son Michael Cooney about three brothers called Tom, Dick and Harry opened here starring three real-life brothers - Joe McGann, Stephen McGann and Mark McGann - in the title roles. After ten weeks of hilarity it closed to make way for more serious drama in the shape of Doug Wright's Tony award winning play I Am My Own Wife about the life of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a German transvestite who was caught up in the great European dramas of the 20th century and who, unlike many contemporaries, survived both the Nazi regime and its replacement, the Soviet-dominated Communist dictatorship in East Germany. Starring Jefferson Mays who was reprising his Tony award-winning role from Broadway, the production played for a short five week run which left the theatre dark over Christmas and New Year period.

Christopher Hampton's new play Embers in March 2006 brought Jeremy Irons back to the London stage. Adapted from the novel by Sandor Marai, the stage production which was directed by Michael Blakemore run for four months. This was then followed in June 2006 by a short three week season of Atom Egoyan's staging of Samuel Beckett's Eh Joe starring Michael Gambon. A short play running for just 30 minutes it was performed a number of times each evening. Although starring Michael Gambon, he didn't actually say anything out loud, but rather just listened to and, in some ways, reacted to to the pre-recorded voice of Penelope Wilton while a live camera projection of him was projected on to the front of the stage. Tom Stoppard's new play Rock'n'Roll, transferring from a season at the Royal Court Theatre, opened here in July 2006 starring the original cast of Brian Cox, Sinead Cusack and Rufus Sewell. Dealing with the recent history of Czechoslovakia between the Prague Spring in 1968 and the Velvet Revolution in 1990, the play was directed by Trevor Nunn. "It's a very humanist play about how different passions and ideas influence each other," Brian Cox said. "The drama reflects how political consciousness has ebbed and flowed through everything from flower-power and feminism to music. In the West we had protest songs and 'Make Love not War', but it was a romanticised kind of politics. In Czechoslovakia rock'n'roll was a genuinely potent force. When I worked at the Moscow Arts Theatre in the late 1980s, I found that my students' knowledge of English had come from Lennon and McCartney. Liberalisation in the Eastern bloc began through rock music." After a seven month run the play closed in February 2007 to be replaced the following month by a transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory of Matthew White's revival of the Alan Menken and Howard Ashman musical Little Shop of Horrors. Starring Paul Keating and Sheridan Smith, the production enjoyed a four month run here at the Duke of York's Theatre before transferring to the Ambassadors Theatre in June 2007.

In July 2007 Orlando Bloom lead the cast of Anna Mackmin's revival of David Storey's 1969 drama In Celebration. The play, about three brothers who return home to the northern roots of their childhood for a family reunion also featured Gareth Farr and Paul Hilton as the two other brothers along with Tim Healy and Dearbhla Molloy as their parents. Unfortunately the production only managed a two month season before it was followed in October 2007 by William Baker's revival of the Jonathan Larson musical Rent the Musical Remixed. For this 're-envisaged' production William Baker approached the former Sugababe Siobhan Donaghy to play the role of 'Mimi': "I watched the film and thought they must have made a mistake!" Siobhan Donaghy said. "I loved the show but the music wasn't really my kind of thing. More importantly, I didn't look anything like Mimi! The thing was that William was very keen to revamp the whole show. For Mimi they were looking for more of a Nicole Kidman from Moulin Rouge, or a Tra La La from Last Exit to Brooklyn. She's no longer a stripper in a sleazy bar exactly, she's more of a burlesque performer. She's someone who wears a happy mask, but it's fairly obvious early on that she's a tragic character and we are going to watch her gradual demise throughout the show." She was still quite nervous though about accepting the role saying "I am pretty much down to my underwear for much of the show, so I'm dreading my father coming to see this. Actually, my manager's going to be just as shocked. I've been with him for six years and he's seen me go from having zero confidence and stage fright into becoming a completely different person. So this overtly sexual act is going to be quite a shock for him, too." The show run for just under four months before closing in February 2008.

In February 2008 the Duke of York's Theatre welcomed from South Africa a special stage adaptation of the Mozart classic Impempe Yomlingo (The Magic Flute) which transferred here following a hugely successful Christmas season at the Young Vic Theatre. "It's a production with a difference. For a start, there's no orchestra. The singers are accompanied only by marimbas, and Mandisi Dyantyis, a slight 25-year-old, is coaching the players slipping between speaking Xhosa and English. The director, Mark Dornford-May, in search of a musical director, heard about him at the church that his wife, Pauline Malefane, attends - 'we know a guy who knows a guy who knows something about music...' And here Dyantyis is, fresh out of music school, recreating bar by bar the original orchestral parts for eight marimbas, a pair each of soprano, alto, baritone, and bass," explained the Artistic Director of the Young Vic, David Lan. "They play. It's extraordinary. It's Mozart alright, but forget Vienna and sachertorte, and think sunlight dappling the sea. Simon Rattle, on holiday in Cape Town, heard a performance and was bowled over. He gave us a quote: 'Mozart would have been surprised and then delighted.' And that's exactly right. It takes a moment to adjust, and then you get it, and you grin. It's gorgeous, touching, slightly rough, slightly jokey, as though the score is being made love to and ever so gently sent up. And then you have to ask yourself: 'Why am I in tears?'" Running for a limited two month season, the show closed in April 2008 to be replaced the following month by another transfer, this time from the Royal Court Theatre of Polly Stenham's multi award-winning debut play The Face featuring Lindsay Duncan and Matt Smith with Julian Wadham which played here for a ten week season.

In July 2008 Anna Mackmin revival of David Eldridge's 2000 play Under The Blue Sky about three sets of relationships between teachers. David Eldridge original plan for the play was to have just the one teaching couple. "It was going to have a similar structure - first drink, drunkenness and then the hangover the morning after. I remember not being very satisfied with it. I was literally on the top of a bus when it struck me that I could keep this form but have a different couple at each stage. I'm a big admirer of Wallace Shawn's A Thought in Three Parts and I really like the way that title describes a possible shape for a play". In the play he takes the view the teaching is like "a metaphor for unrequited love" thus "You can be in proximity to youth as a teacher but you can't reclaim your own. It can feel like standing on the sidelines watching this constant turnover of young potential." This revival, starring Catherine Tate, Francesca Annis, Lisa Dillon, Chris O'Dowd and Dominic Rowan, enjoyed a two month season before closing in September 2008.

The final production of 2008 here at the Duke of York's Theatre was Rupert Goold's revival of Harold Pinter's classic play No Man's Land starring Michael Gambon and David Walliams. Opening in October, the production played through to early January 2009. Playing a very short 11 day concert season in January 2009 was the Tony Award winning actor Mandy Patinkin. Classic drama then returned here at the Duke of York's Theatre in February 2009 with Lindsay Posner's revival of Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge starring Ken Stott and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as the central married couple, Eddie and Beatrice. "A View From the Bridge is so raw, much more so than The Crucible, with these huge themes: love, lust, betrayal. It's a Greek tragedy, watching the fall of Eddie Carbone," said Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. "My character, Beatrice, has tremendous instincts, leading her to tremendous insight. She's the only one that understands her husband is falling for her niece. The problem with Italian-American culture is often this celebration of the undereducated. But Arthur Miller gives these working-class people vast emotional depth. That's what I love about it. That and the pride of these men. I know that community, because both my parents were first-generation Italian American. After he did national service my father could have gone to college, but he was a Mastrantonio, the first son, so he went to work in a foundry to give his parents money. It was my mother who saw to it me and my sisters, six of us, didn't grow up inside the Italian-American community, that we could be who we were." This production was then followed in June 2009 by the first West End revival of Tom Stoppard's 1993 play Arcadia. Directed by David Leveaux, the cast featured the playwright's son, Ed Stoppard, along with Samantha Bond, Neil Pearson and Dan Stevens and enjoyed a 15 week run. Toby Frow's production of Australian playwright Andrew Bovell's thriller Speaking in Tongues about the disappearance of a leading psychiatrist opened here in September 2009 for an eleven week season starring John Simm, Ian Hart, Lucy Cohu and Kerry Fox. The final production of 2009 was a transfer from Stratford of Gregory Doran's eastern Mediterranean themed revival of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company for a ten week season over Christmas and the New Year. The production was notable for featuring Richard Wilson - best remembered for playing 'Victor Meldrew' in TV's One Foot in the Grave - who was making his well-received RSC debut playing the role of 'Malvolio'.

Alan Ayckbourn's classic 1977 comedy Bedroom Farce was revived here at the Duke of Yorks Theatre by Sir Peter Hall in March 2010 for a twelve week season starring Jenny Seagrove and David Horovitch. This was then followed by the thriller Ghost Stories written by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman. The production transferred here following a short run at the Liverpool Playhouse and the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith in London. Opening to good notices from the national newspaper critics, the showenjoyed an extended twelve month run before closing in July 2011 to make way for a short seven week summer season of David Grindley's acclaimed 2004 revival of R C Sheriff's Journey's End. This was followed in September 2011 by Backbeat, a play with songs, that told the story of how the Beatles from Liverpool became the world famous Beatles as they journeyed from the famous docks of Liverpool to search for success in the seedy red light district of Hamburg. The show, featuring many of the early rock'n'roll hits that Beatles cut their teeth with performed live on stage was based on the 1994 Universal Pictures Film.

The first new production here in 2012 was Zach Braff starring hin his own play All New People which arrived in February 2012. Braff, who played Charlie the suicidal hero in the play said: "I definitely am not, nor have ever been, suicidal, thank God, but I think I wrestle with the themes of the play, which are isolation and loneliness and the search for companionship." Three transfers from the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square then followed presented as a 'mini-season' together. First up in May 2012 was Laura Wade's play Posh. Set in Oxford University the play was based around the fictional 'Riot Club', an elite student dining - ie drinking - society. While there are obvious parallels in the play between the fictional 'Riot Club' and the notorious 'Bullingdon Club' in Oxford which counted among its members David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson, the playwright Laura Wade said that the 'Riot Club' "is a fictional club and it exists in a world of metaphor. The play was never seeking to be a documentary about those individuals. The play is set now, and they were at Oxford in the Eighties, and the Bullingdon is a different club to the one in the play... I was drawn to the idea of creating a club from scratch, rather than trying to replicate real-life events. So we get a room, 10 boys, a lot of alcohol and food, a certain amount of ambition, intelligence and charm and we see what happens when you put all that in the oven for a few hours. I felt it was important that this wasn't just an opportunity to sit and watch a lot of rotters. They're smart and charming, and I wanted us to enjoy being in there with them and for us still to be there when things get much darker so that to some extent we are then implicated." The second transfer from the Royal Court, in August 2012, was April De Angelis' play Jumpy about a fifty-something wife and mother who had once protested at Greenham Common but who was now trying to adjust to having her own teenage daughter in a changing world. The third play was Nick Payne's Constellations in November 2012. Described as 'A story of love, honey, and a quantum multiverse' the play was focused on the relationship between Roland and Marianne and showed the myriad possible paths that the relationship could take.

2013 opened with another transfer, this time from the Hampstead Theatre of Neil Armfield revival of David Hare's 1998 play The Judas Kiss about Oscar Wilde's imprisonment and relationship with Bosie. The revival starred Rupert Everett as 'Oscar Wilde' and Freddie Fox as 'Lord Alfred Douglas' ('Bosie') and enjoyed a thirteen week run here in the West End. In May 2013 Zoe Wanamaker and Owen Teale starred in David Leveaux's well received revival of Peter Nichols' Passion Play. Dealing with adultery in a long marriage this 1981 play had won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for 'Best Play' when it was first presented on the London stage. Over the summer of 2013 a revival of Henrik Ibsen's A Dolls House was presented featuring Hattie Morahan and Dominic Rowan. Directed by Carrie Cracknell, the production was a transfer from the Young Vic Theatre. In October 2013 a new comedy Perfect Nonsense written by Bobby and David Goodale opened. Based on the Jeeves and Wooster characters devised by PG Woodhouse, the original cast for this stage comedy featured Stephen Mangan as 'Bertie Wooster' and Matthew Macfadyen as 'Jeeves'. In October 2014 Angus Jackson's revival of Tim Firth's comedy Neville's Island transferred here from the Chichester Festival Theatre. Starring Adrian Edmondson, who reprised his role as 'Gordon', here in the West End he was joined by Miles Jupp, Neil Morrissey and Robert Webb.

A transfer from the Royal Court Theatre of Jennifer Haley's new play The Nether in London 2015 - theatre tickets and information opened in January 2015 for a three month season which was followed by a three month run of Lindsay Posner revival of Noel Coward's comedy Hay Fever starring Felicity Kendal and Simon Shepherd in the Judith and David Bliss roles. Over the school holidays the touring production of Jacqueline Wilson's Hetty Feather returned to London for a four week run.

In September 2015 Claire van Kampen's new play Farinelli and the King starring her husband Mark Rylance transferred here for a short two month season following an acclaimed run at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Christmas and the new year saw a two-and-a-half month season of David Wood's stage adaptation of Michelle Magorian's novel Goodnight Mister Tom with David Troughton playing the role of 'Tom' (a role originated by Oliver Ford Davies when the production was first seen in London the previous year at the Phoenix Theatre) - also over the holdays Peppa Pig played special daytime performances. Also returning to London, following an earlier season at the Wyndham's Theatre, was Florian Zeller black comedy The Father starring Kenneth Cranham which played here during February and March 2016. Kit Harington starred in Jamie Lloyd's revival of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus for an eight week season, this was followed by a transfer in July 2016 from the Haymarket Theatre of Alan Strachan's revival of Alan Ayckbourn's comedy How The Other Half Loves. Sean Foley's revival of Ronald Harwood's play The Dresser starring Reece Shearsmith and Ken Stott and Reece Shearsmith opened here at the Duke of York's Theatre in October 2016 and was then followed in February 2017 by a revival of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie starring Cherry Jones as the mother 'Amanda Wingfield'.

Following acclaimed runs in Edinburgh and at London's National Theatre, Lee Hall's new musical play Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour opened here in May 2017. This is followed by two transfers from the Almeida Theatre in North London: From September 2017 James Graham's 'newspaper docu-drama' Ink about the rise of The Sun newspaper in the early 1970s; and then from January 2018 Robert Icke's new adaptation of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart starring Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams.