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The Independent Culture
Plays, like buses, seem to move in fleets. This year, the Greeks are most definitely in. Funds permitting, the Gate Theatre will present an ambitious five-play cycle of Iphigenia in Aulis, Electra, Helen, Orestes and Iphigenia in Tauris. Contact Theatre is doing Lysistrata, and the RSC a new production of Euripides's Ion. Stealing a march on all of these, however, is ATC.

In a rare example of genuine co-production, the artistic director, Nick Philippou (a Greek-Cypriot by birth), is working with ATC and one of Greece's largest theatre companies to produce twin productions of Ion. He and his Greek designer and musician began working together over a year ago, and in May he goes to Thessaloniki for two months' rehearsal on the Greek production. In September, he begins rehearsing the British version (in a new translation by Kenneth McLeish) which also opens in Thessaloniki before returning for a six-week UK tour. The final link will be to bring the Greek production over during ATC's season at the Lyric Studio in November.

Richard Wilson has a reputation within the profession as an excellent theatre director. But he is more widely known as the Bafta Award-winning star of One Foot in the Grave, in which he plays a curmudgeonly old man who rails against the world. This Tuesday, he opens in The Weekend, a new play in which he plays . . . a curmudgeonly old man who rails against the world. The author Michael Palin long ago shuffled off his Monty Python image to become a noted writer while building a solid acting career with impressive performances in work such as A Private Function and GBH.

The Weekend opens at the Strand Theatre in London, which once housed the second play by Jeffrey Archer (who luckily didn't give up his day job). Exclusive moved one critic to observe that the play afforded Eileen Atkins the opportunity of moving from playing great tragic roles to answering the telephone.

In The Weekend, Julie Peasgood has to spend much of her time reading magazines. Apparently, any magazine will do, so long as it is peach-coloured 'in order to match the set'.

(Photograph omitted)

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