Roger Michell will direct a cast led by Eileen Atkins in Joanna Murray-Smith’s latest play, The Female of the Species, opening at the Vaudeville Theatre on 16 July, with previews from 10 July. Joining Atkins are Paul Chahidi, Anna Maxwell Martin, Con O’Neill, Sophie Thompson and Sam Kelly. Designs are by Mark Thompson, with lighting by James Whiteside and sound by Matt McKenzie. The Female of the Species is produced in the West End by David Richenthal and Mary Beth O’Connor, Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer for Nimax Theatres.
Margot Mason is a literary giant on a deadline. When an uninvited fan arrives unexpectedly at her home, followed by her family and friends, Margot's feminist world begins to spiral hilariously out of control.
Multi award-winning actor Dame Eileen Atkins (Margot Mason) has most recently been seen on stage playing Mrs Rafi in Jonathan Kent’s production of Edward Bond’s The Sea at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and Bridget in Michael Attenborough’s production of Frank McGuinness’ There Came a Gypsy Riding at the Almeida Theatre. She has worked extensively for the National Theatre including most recently, Honour, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, including The Unexpected Man, which later transferred to Broadway. Her other theatre work includes The Birthday Party at the Duchess Theatre, A Delicate Balance at the Haymarket and Vita and Virginia, her own play, which premiered at Chichester Festival Theatre before transferring to the West End. In 2006 she played Sister Aloysius on Broadway in John Patrick Shanley’s award-winning Doubt. Her many film credits include Wolf, Vanity Fair, Ask The Dust, Cold Mountain, The Hours, Jack and Sarah and Gosford Park. On television her credits include Upstairs, Downstairs – which she co-created, Cold Comfort Farm, The Maitlands and Bertie, Elizabeth and Ballet Shoes, as well as Cranford for which she has recently received the BAFTA Television Best Actress Award for her portrayal of Miss Deborah Jenkyns.
Paul Chahidi’s (Bryan Thornton) theatre credits include The Cherry Orchard for Chichester Festival Theatre, Rhinoceros and The Arsonist for the Royal Court, The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cymberline and As You Like It for the Royal Shakespeare Company. His television credits include Oliver Twist, Blackpool and Blonde Bombshell. His film credits include Venus and Notting Hill, directed by Roger Michell, as well as The Libertine and Stella Does Tricks.
Sam Kelly’s (Theo Reynolds) recent theatre credits include Kean at the Apollo Theatre, Aladdin for the Old Vic, Much Ado About Nothing for the Theatre Royal Bath, HMS Pinafore and Dead Funny at the Savoy Theatre, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Homecoming for the National Theatre and Under the Whale Back for the Royal Court. His extensive television credits include three series of Barbara in which he played opposite Gwen Taylor, New Tricks, Christmas on the Riviera, Where the Heart Is, Northern Lights, Cold Feet and Martin Chuzzlewit. His film credits include Mike Leigh’s Topsy Turvy and All or Nothing.
Anna Maxwell Martin (Molly Rivers) has recently played Sally Bowles in Rufus Norris’ production of Cabaret at the Lyric Theatre. Previously her theatre credits include The Entertainer and Dumb Show both for the Royal Court, His Dark Materials, Joanna Murray-Smith’s Honour, Three Sisters and The Coast of Utopia for the National Theatre and Little Foxes for the Donmar Warehouse. On television her credits include Poppy Shakespeare, The Wind in the Willows, Bleak House, Dr Who, North and South and Midsomer Murders and on film she has been seen in Becoming Jane, The Other Man, Enduring Love and The Hours. Con O’Neill’s (Frank) theatre credits include The Caretaker for both Sheffield Theatres and the Tricycle, Midnight Cowboy for the Assembly Theatre Edinburgh, Southwalk Fair and Mother Clap’s Molly House for the National Theatre, Featuring Loretta and The Awakening for Hampstead Theatre and Blood Brothers both in the West End and on Broadway. On film his credits include Telstar, A Perfect Match and Bedrooms and Hallways. On television he has appeared in The Stepfather, My Hero, Trial and Retribution, Tom Jones and Waking The Dead.
Sophie Thompson’s (Tess Thornton) theatre credits include Isabella in Measure for Measure for the Globe Theatre, Company and Into the Woods for the Donmar Warehouse and Helena in All’s Well that Ends Well for the Royal Shakespeare Company. On film her credits include Gosford Park, Dancing at Lughnasa, Emma, Nicholas Nickleby and Four Weddings and a Funeral. On television she will soon be seen in Morris: A Life with Bells On and recently played Stella in BBC1’s EastEnders and has been directed by Roger Michell in Persuasion and The Railway Children, both for the BBC.
The Female of the Species is Australian writer Joanna Murray-Smith’s first full-length comedy. In 2003 her play Honour, starring Eileen Atkins and Corin Redgrave, debuted at the National Theatre. A production starring Diana Rigg and Martin Jarvis was later seen in the West End. Earlier this year Trevor Nunn directed Iain Glenn and Imogen Stubbs in Murray-Smith’s Scenes from a Marriage at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry. In 2004 Caroline O’Connor starred in Murray-Smith’s Bombshells which transferred to the Arts Theatre from the Edinburgh Festival. Her other plays include Ninety, Rapture, Nightfall, Love Child, Flame and Redemption, the later was subsequently recorded for BBC Radio.
Award-winning stage and screen director Roger Michell’s recent theatre credits include Betrayal and Old Times both at the Donmar Warehouse and Joanna Murray Smith’s Honour at the National Theatre, where he has also directed productions of Landscape With Weapon, Blue/Orange, The Homecoming, Under Milk Wood and The Coup. He directed My Night with Reg at the Royal Court and subsequently in the West End. For six years he was Resident Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company where productions included Restoration, The Constant Couple, Hamlet, The Dead Monkey and many more. His many screen credits include the hugely successful romantic comedy Notting Hill as well as Venus, Enduring Love, The Mother, Changing Lanes, Titanic Town, Persuasion, My Night with Reg and The Buddah of Suburbia, for which he also wrote the screenplay.