Funnyman Lenny Henry to get serious again on the West End stage
| By London Theatre Direct
Best known for his comic prowess Lenny Henry will be heading the cast in one of the greatest American dramas of the 20th Century, August Wilson's Fences, this summer. His turn as Othello in 2009 was met with widespread critical acclaim, proving that Henry had more strings to his bow than were widely known. His return to the London stage in Wilson's play will be hotly anticipated and a high demand for tickets is expected.
Henry made his stage debut in Othello at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds and the show subsequently transferred to the Trafalgar Studios. The Daily Telegraph said of his performance: "This is one of the most astonishing debuts in Shakespeare I have ever seen. It is impossible to praise too highly Henry's courage in taking on so demanding and exposed a role, and then performing it with such authority and feeling." Lynne Walker of The Independent said that his "emotional dynamism is in no doubt. The frenzy within his imagination explodes into rage and, finally, wretchedness. It’s not a subtle reading but it works powerfully in this context."
In Fences Henry will play Troy Maxson, a Pittsburg family man who once had a shot at the big time as an athlete but missed his chance. Resentful of the world and frustrated about the way his life has turned out, he takes out his anger on his sports obsessed son and loyal wife. We see a family in crisis trying to hold itelf together as the man at its centre deals with his broken dreams. The play won two Tony Awards, the New York Drama Critics Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The show will start its previews at the Duchess Theatre on the 19th June and will be playing a limited run until 14th September. The cast also features Tanya Moodie, Colin McFarlane, Peter Bankole and Ashley Zhangazha.
Lenny Henry is well known for his involvement with British fundraising charity Comic Relief and its annual Red Nose Day appeal. The first series of The Lenny Henry Show which mixed stand up comedy and sketches first aired on the BBC in 1984, and vaious incarnations of it were screened over the next 20 years. He formed part of The Comic Strip alongside his then wife Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Adrian Edmondson and others and co-presented cult children's Saturday morning show Tiswas. Following the success of Othello he made his debut at the Royal National Theatre in 2011 playing Antipholus of Ephesus in Dominic Cooke's revival of The Comedy Of Errors.
Book Fences tickets at the Duchess Theatre now