Heads Up: Michael Frayn Season
From the West End to Sheffield...you've been Frayn-ed!
What are we talking about?
A festival of work by playwright Michael Frayn, across Sheffield's three theatres (the Crucible, Lyceum and Studio). The programme includes major revivals of Copenhagen, Benefactors and Democracy, rehearsed readings of The Sneeze, Here and Wild Honey, plus readings from his columns and novels.
Unrestrained Frayn celebrations in Sheffield.
Directing Copenhagen is David Grindley, who won a Tony for his revival of Journey's End. Associate director at the Bush, Charlotte Gwinner heads north to direct Benefactors; Paul Miller, an associate director at Sheffield Theatres (he was responsible for its Hamlet with John Simm), tackles Democracy.
Frayn himself puts in an appearance – they'll be "an audience with ..." event on 23 March. Henry Goodman (The Holy Rosenbergs, Yes, Prime Minister) and Geoffrey Streatfeild (Spooks, Journey's End) go head to head as Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in Copenhagen. Abigail Cruttenden – Benidorm, Sharpe (she's a former Mrs Sean Bean) – stars in Benefactors. Patrick Drury (Father Ted), Richard Hope (who starred in Frayn's farce Noises Off last time round) and Aidan McArdle (Not Only But Always) are in Democracy.
The Early Buzz
The season featured in the 2012 highlights lists in this paper, The Observer, The Guardian and The Telegraph, where Dominic Cavendish's preview ran: "... best to flag up now the bumper pack of goodies ... Sheffield looks like being Actor Central this year."
The three major productions all won, on their initial stagings, the Evening Standard Award for Best Play. Hat trick!
It's great that...
The rehearsed readings are on Friday lunchtimes, and the audience is encouraged to "bring a snack along and listen...in your lunch break". How civilised.
It's a shame that...
There's a teensy chance Frayn might be over-exposed this year: his work is everywhere. The wonderful Old Vic revival of Noises Off transfers to the West End in March; Here is also getting an outing at the Rose Theatre from April, while Frayn's translation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya is part of Chichester's season, also in March.
Unlikely all will hit perfection – but given the strength of the scripts, and Frayn's current popularity, they could get close.
The Michael Frayn Season takes place at the Sheffield Theatres, 29 February to 31 March.
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