This year, Jonathan Kent (above) and joint artistic director Ian McDiarmid have widened their net. The size of the Almeida means great atmosphere and intimacy but relatively low box-office returns. In a sharp-eyed move, Kent has cast his Hamlet with Ralph Fiennes, another solid-gold star, and moved to the Hackney Empire, which is more than three times the size. This means bigger audiences, bigger box office and a big-enough set for Broadway. The resulting in-house vacancy leaves room for the London run of the critical and box-office smash, The Winter Guest by Sharman Macdonald, in a co-production between the Almeida and West Yorkshire Playhouse, whose recent track record is none too ropy either. Who said theatre people weren't good at business?
`Hamlet' is at the Hackney Empire, E9 (071-312 1995). `The Winter Guest' begins previews on Thur at the Almeida, N1 (071-359 4404)Reuse content