The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company has announced that Red Velvet starring Adrian Lester will be the third play in the inaugural Plays at the Garrick season.
The production, which originally premiered at the Tricycle Theatre in 2012 before transferring to St Ann’s Warehouse in New York in 2014, will play at the Garrick Theatre from 23rd January until 27th February 2016. Red Velvet is written by Lolita Chakrabarti with direction by the Tricycle's artistic director Indhu Rubasingham.
Kenneth Branagh said: “Writing, direction and performance are exceptional in Red Velvet. I’m immensely proud to be presenting this work. I was aware of its development from its inception and believe Lolita Chakrabarti has written an important and exhilarating play which in its discussion of performance, politics, and race is as entertaining as it is illuminating.”
Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 1833. Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, has collapsed on stage whilst playing Othello. A young black American actor has been asked to take over the role. But as the public riot in the streets over the abolition of slavery, how will the cast, critics and audience react to the revolution taking place in the theatre?
Lolita Chakrabarti said: “I am delighted that Red Velvet is continuing its extraordinary journey. From its beginnings at The Tricycle Theatre to its transfer to New York, it's been a wonderful experience and we can't wait to bring Ira Aldridge back to London's West End.”
Adrian Lester said: “Getting Ira’s story to the stage has been a labour of love for us. The fact that we now get to tell that story in the West End and in such illustrious company is fantastic.”
Indhu Rubasingham said: “Red Velvet was my first production as Artistic Director at the Tricycle. It has a very special place in my heart as it had been a long time in the making with the playwright Lolita Chakrabarti and Adrian Lester. It has been an honour to celebrate Ira Aldridge and it is a great privilege and a real joy to be able to bring this production back and to be part of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company season.”
Lester started his career with a string of successful West End productions including Fences, Six Degrees Of Separation, As You Like It and Company before landing the lead role in Mike Nichol's movie Primary Colors. Other movie credits since include The Day After Tomorrow, Maybe Baby, Born Romantic, Love's Labour's Lost, Dust, Final Curtain,Doomsday, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Starting Out in the Evening, As You Like It and Case 39.
Lester is also well known for his TV work including playing ‘Mickey Bricks’ in the long running BBC1 series Hustle, with other TV credits including When Romeo Met Juliet, Merlin, Sleep with Me, Ghost Squad, Being Human, Bonekickers and the US series Red Band Society and Girlfriends. He has appeared on stage as Henry V and Othello at the National Theatre, played Peter Brook’s Hamlet at the Bouffes Du Nord and starred in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London's West End. Awards include the Evening Standard Theatre Award 2013 for Best Actor for Othello, the Critics Circle Award 2012 for Best Actor for Red Velvet and an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical for Company.
The Winter’s Tale, Harlequinade / All On Her Own, Red Velvet, The Painkiller, Romeo and Juliet and The Entertainer make up the inaugural seven play season of work for the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company.
The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, in partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment, will broadcast three productions of its year-long Plays at the Garrick season live to cinemas worldwide. The first Branagh Theatre Live production will be The Winter’s Tale at 19:00 on Thursday 26 November 2015.
Broadcast dates for Romeo and Juliet and The Entertainer will be announced on the day of the preceding production’s broadcast.
Photo Credit: Hugo Glendinning