The rubber-faced star of the Mr. Bean tv and film series and cult comedy classic Blackadder will star in his first West End play for 25 years at the Wyndham's Theatre. His most recent West End foray was as Fagin in Cameron Mackintosh's Oliver at the London Palladium in 2009.
The show will preview from the 23th January and open a week later on the 29th. The play will have run previously at the Theatre Royal Brighton between the 8th and 12th January and at the Theatre Royal Bath from the 14th to the 19th January. The show, a revival of Simon Gray's 1971 play, will be directed by Richard Eyre and produced by Michael Codron. Set in the 1960s it follows hapless teacher St John Quartermaine who has a good soul but isn't a particularly good teacher. He listens to the gripes and grumblings of the rest of the staff of their school that teaches English to foreigner students all the while dealing with and realising his own torments. Although the play has comical moments it also heavily explores themes of loss and loneliness. A tv film version was produced in 1987 starring Edward Fox as Quartermaine and also featured John Gielgud, Clive Francis, Eleanor Bron and Tessa Peake Jones. Further casting for this production has yet to be announced.
Atkinson shot to fame on satirical sketch show Not The Nine O'clock News in 1979 alongside Griff Rhys Jones, Mel Smith, Pamela Stephenson and Chris Langham. Subsequent turns as Edmund, 'The Black Adder' in the hugely popular Blackadder series and his grotesquely addictive Mr. Bean character have cemented him as one of Britain's top funnymen. He also starred in BBC police sitcom The Thin Blue Line and more recently as James Bond parody Johnny English in two successful films. He had previously played opposite Sean Connery in arguably the best Bond film, Never Say Never Again.