About Last of the Duchess
A Hampstead Theatre production
THE LAST OF THE DUCHESS
By Nicholas Wright
Based on the book by Caroline Blackwood
Directed by Richard Eyre
Designed by Anthony Ward
Lighting by Peter Mumford
Anna Chancellor, Sheila Hancock and Angela Thorne will be joined by Conrad Asquith, Helen Bradbury, Jasmina Daniel and John Heffernan in Nicholas Wright’s new play The Last of the Duchess, directed by Richard Eyre.
The Last of the Duchess reunites director Richard Eyre with playwright Nicholas Wright. They have previously worked together on the award-winning Vincent in Brixton and the acclaimed The Reporter, both at the National Theatre. They also wrote Changing Stages, a history of twentieth-century British Theatre.
It is 1980. The Sunday Times plans a Snowdon portrait of the long-reclusive Duchess of Windsor. Lady Caroline Blackwood, novelist, wit and journalist, is sent to the Windsor mansion near Versailles to secure it. She immediately finds herself locked in battle with the Duchess’s formidable lawyer, Maître Suzanne Blum.
But she soon finds Blum an even more fascinating figure than the Duchess herself. Is this eccentric and energetic French presence determined to protect the Duchess – or perhaps hide unscrupulous manipulation of her money and fame? How did she get power of attorney over the Windsor fortune? And why is no one allowed to see the Duchess?
Based on Caroline Blackwood’s astonishing biographical portrait of the Duchess, Nicholas Wright’s new play is a compelling study of class, snobbery and the improbable forms that love takes.
Sir Richard Eyre was director of the NT for 10 years. Too many to list, he has directed numerous award winning plays and films. His most recent films are Notes On A Scandal and Iris, and his plays include Private Lives (Vaudeville Theatre), Welcome To Thebes and The Observer (National Theatre). Betty Blue Eyes is currently playing at the Novello Theatre.
Nicholas Wright’s many plays include Terese Raqun , Mrs Klein and His Dark Materials (National Theatre), Lulu (Almeida Theatre) and Rattigan’s Nijinsky, currently at Chichester Festival Theatre. Amongst other television scripts he wrote three of the episodes of the acclaimed The No 1 Detective Agency for BBC Television.
Anna Chancellor is currently starring in BBC2’s hit series The Hour. Her stage appearances include The Observer and Never So Good (NT), Creditors and Boston Marriage (Donmar) and Nina Gawa’s King Lear. Film appearances include St Trinian’s, Breaking and Entering, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Four Weddings and a Funeral. TV includes Spooks, Cazalet Chronicles, Pride and Prejudice and Kavenagh Q.C.
Sheila Hancock’s many and varied stage roles include appearances in Sister Act (London Palladium), The Arab Israeli Cookbook (Gate), Under the Blue Sky (Royal Court) In Extremis (NT), The Anniversary (Garrick Theatre) and Sweeny Todd (Drury Lane). TV includes Feather Boy, Bedtime, Forty Something. Bleak House and The Catherine Tate Show, and as a judge in Over The Rainbow. She won her first Laurence Olivier award, for her role in Cabaret at the age of 73. Her films include Love and Death on Long Island, Three Men and a Little Lady, The Anniversary and The Boy in The Stripped Pyjamas. She also wrote The Two of Us a best selling two part memoir.
Angela Thorne last worked with Richard Eyre and Nicholas Wright in The Reporter at the National Theatre. She is well known for her TV roles in To The Manor Born and Anyone for Denis. She has also appeared in Wallander, The Royal, Elizabeth R, The Canterville Ghost, Ballet Shoes and Foyle’s War. Films include Oh What A Lovely War, Lassie, Three Up Two Down and Bright Young Things. Stage appearances include Ring Around The Moon (Playhouse Theatre) Quartet (Albery Theatre), Arsenic and Old Lace (National Tour),
Conrad Asquith’s many stage rôles include in The Mysteries Ibelgrade Theatre, Coventry), Love’s Fire, The Rivals, Charley’s Aunt and Falstaff (Oxford Playhouse). Film includes Being Human, Hostages, Black Beauty and Cold Fish. He has appeared in several episodes of Dr Who.
Helen Bradbury’s most recent stage appearance was in Crash (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Other stage appearances include in The Miser (The Royal Exchange, Manchester) and The Fairy Queen (Glyndebourne Festival). TV includes the latest series of Upstairs Downstairs and Lennon Naked.
Jasmina Daniel Theatre work includes Pera Palas (Arcola); Crocodile Seeking Refuge (Jackson’s), The Chair Women (Riverside Studios), Othello (Mermaid), Sitting Ducks (Garrick), Arms and the Man (Royal Exchange), The End of Me Ol’ Cigar (Greenwich and Hang Down Your Head and Die (Comedy). Recent television includes Prometheus, The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Sitting Ducks, An Unfortunate Acccident and Emmerdale. Film rôles include Mr. Jericho, Tales from the Crypt and All Neat in Black Stockings.
John Heffernan stage performances include in Emperor and Galilean, After The Dance, The Habit of Art, The Revenger’s Tragedy and Major Barbara (National Theatre), Love Love Love (Paignes Plough), King Lear, King John, Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet(RSC), and Carrie’s War (Apollo Theatre, London). Television includes The Shadow Line, The Academy and Holby Blue, and he played Oswald in Trevor Nunn’s film of King Lear.