On the back of Jermyn Street Theatre’s recent announcement of the UK premiere of Henrik Ibsen’s comic fantasy St John’s Night, to be staged this July, the smallest theatre in the heart of the West End announces another major production for this autumn. Three giants of the British stage come together as Trevor Nunn directs Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon in All That Fall, a radio play by Samuel Beckett. The work, which has never been seen in London before, continues and extends this small and intimate theatre’s burgeoning reputation for attracting the very best talent in British theatre in order to rediscover and stage lesser-known works by major writers.
Specially commissioned by the BBC as a radio play, when it was first heard on the Third Programme in 1957, All That Fall was immediately and universally acclaimed for its comic and linguistic exuberance. The Times Literary Supplement said of it, “A most impressive and original piece of writing for the ear, comparable in its impact, though not at all in its tone or mood, with Under Milk Wood. The use of language has a rich local flavour; there is a rhetorical zest, a rhythmical extravagance, and a melancholy humour, that recall Synge and O’Casey.”
The piece charts the journey of old and unwieldy Mrs Rooney as she drags herself towards a railway station on a Saturday lunchtime to meet her blind husband on his way back from the office to guide him home. Along the way she passes the time of day with a man with a dung cart and a man with a bicycle. A third man with a motor-car offers her a lift and a church-struck spinster helps her up the station steps.
Trevor Nunn says, “For many years I have been hoping to present Samuel Beckett’s extraordinary radio play ‘All That Fall’ on stage. The Jermyn Street Theatre is the perfect intimate space for this unique project, as I attempt to recreate the studio circumstances for which the play was written. Most excitingly, this rare staging of a little known Beckett masterpiece has attracted the involvement of two world famous actors, Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon, to play the leading parts of Mrs and Mr Rooney.
Richly showing Beckett’s connection to O’Casey, the play moves through comedic situations to a conclusion as disturbingly bleak as anything in his writing. My hope is that audiences won’t try to find and read the play beforehand, but come to it as if it is a new work about which they know almost nothing. The impact of this play will then be at its most devastating.”
Gene David Kirk, Artistic Director of Jermyn Street Theatre says, “This is a quadruple coup for Jermyn Street Theatre. A rare staging by one of the most influential figures of twentieth century theatre directed by one of the most lauded directors of his generation and starring two of the greatest actors working today. Any one of those ingredients would have been massive for a theatre of our size but to have them together makes us immensely proud and excited. For a tiny auditorium in the heart of Theatreland, surrounded by the West End’s legendary playhouses, this proves that Jermyn Street Theatre delivers a punch far above its weight”.
At the beginning of this year Jermyn Street Theatre won The Best Fringe Theatre of the Year in The Stage 100 Awards. Increasingly in the ascendance under the stewardship of Gene David Kirk, it is considered to be one of the most exciting venues of its size in the UK. With a commitment to presenting both little performed European and American classics and vibrant new plays and musicals, the theatre has won recent acclaim with its productions of Charles Dyer’s Mother Adam, Ibsen’s Little Eyolf starring Imogen Stubbs, The River Line by Charles Morgan, The Two-Character Play by Tennessee Williams and The Art Concealment about the celebrated playwright Terence Rattigan. In 2011 Jermyn Street Theatre was nominated for the Peter Brook Empty Space Award and in July 2012 in another major first, the theatre will present the UK premiere of Henrik Ibsen’s St John’s Night directed by Anthony Biggs.
11th October 7.30pm