Festen

Previewed 18 March 2004, Opened 25 March, Closed 1 May 2004 at the Almeida Theatre
Previewed 15 September 2004, Opened 23 September 2004, Closed 16 April 2005 at the Lyric Theatre

David Eldridge's English Language stage adaptation of Festen in London

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!

Dramatisation by David Eldridge, based on the Dogme film and play by Thomas Vinterberg, Mogens Rukov and Bo hr. Hansen. PLEASE NOTE that this production is suitable for over 15's only.

The cast at London's Almeida Theatre featured Robert Pugh as 'Helge Klingenfelt', Jane Asher as 'Else Klingenfelt', Claire Rushbrook as 'Helene Klingenfelt', Jonny Lee Miller as 'Christian Klingenfelt', Tom Hardy as 'Michael Klingenfelt', Sam Beazley as 'Grandfather', Andrew Maud as 'Lars', Gary Oliver as 'Kim', Lisa Palfrey as 'Mette', Michael Thomas as 'Helmut', Patrick Robinson as 'Gbatokai', Ruth Millar as 'Pia', and Sam Cox as 'Poul'.

The cast at the West End's Lyric Theatre from 15 September 2004 to Saturday 15 January 2005 featured Stephen Moore as 'Helge Klingenfelt', Jane Asher as 'Else Klingenfelt', Claire Rushbrook as 'Helene Klingenfelt', Luke Mably as 'Christian Klingenfelt', Rory Kinnear as 'Michael Klingenfelt', Sam Beazley as 'Grandfather', Andrew Frame as 'Kim', Andrew Maud as 'Lars', Lisa Palfrey as 'Mette', Michael Thomas as 'Helmut', Patrick Robinson as 'Gbatokai', Ruth Millar as 'Pia', and Sam Cox as 'Poul'.

The cast at the West End's Lyric Theatre from Monday 17 January 2005 to Saturday 16 April 2005 featured Stephen Moore as 'Helge Klingenfelt', Carol Royle as 'Else Klingenfelt', Lisa Palfrey as 'Helene Klingenfelt', Paul Nicholls as 'Christian Klingenfelt', William Beck as 'Michael Klingenfelt', Sam Beazley as 'Grandfather', Andrew Maud as 'Lars', Jason Baughan as 'Kim', Michael Thomas as 'Helmut', Morven Christie as 'Pia', Patrick Robinson as 'Gbatokai', Sam Cox as 'Poul', and Susannah Wise as 'Mette'.

Directed by Rufus Norris, with sets by Ian MacNeil, costumes by Joan Wadge, lighting by Jean Kalman, music Orlando Gough, and sound by Paul Arditti.

"The haunting success of Festen is how it drifts in and out of reality. 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... This family is in self-destructive meltdown, and the more childhood recollections come tumbling out, the more agonising the party becomes. The usually incomparable Stephen Moore is a little too bland as the sinister father, but Sam Beazley is magnificent as the befuddled grandfather... 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... In all of London's theatre, I cannot find a more thoughtful thriller or a family album quite so scorched with the truth." The Daily Express

"TV fave Stephen Moore is terrifying as the father, and Luke Mably sweats fruitfully as Christian, his son. Claire Rushbrook is well cast as a right-on elder sister, Helene, as is Rory Kinnear, playing the oikish other brother, Michael. But the play, adapted by David Eldridge from the 1998 film by Thomas Vinterberg, doesn't give them enough to chew on. Christian's complaint is voiced, the guests carry on partying, everyone puts decorum before decency. And, anyway, no one believes him, not even Helene, who's just found her sister's suicide note explaining that she'd topped herself because Dad had 'started again'... Eventually events take a turn for the surreal, the Hamet references get increasingly explicit (it's set in Denmark) and the family traditions more and more horrific... The genius of the film of Festen lay in its 'Dogme' principles; shot entirely on location using hand-held cameras, it felt like some nightmarish home movie. The play is more like a feature-length You've Been Framed, albeit with far better actors." 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... 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.