Donmar sexes up its season by casting Cattrall in Mamet play

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The Independent Culture

Kim Cattrall , the Sex and the City star, is to leave glamour behind her when she returns to the London stage as a mother at the centre of a family breakdown.

The Anglo-Canadian actress is to follow up her West End debut last year in Whose Life Is It Anyway? by appearing in The Cryptogram by David Mamet, at the 250-seat Donmar Warehouse.

She will follow in the footsteps of the stars Gwyneth Paltrow, William H Macy and, most famously, Nicole Kidman, whose brief appearance naked in The Blue Room at the Donmar was described by one critic as "pure theatrical Viagra".

But they all appeared under the artistic leadership of Sam Mendes, who left in 2002 after the Oscar-winning success of his first movie, American Beauty.

His successor, Michael Grandage, has tended to rely on more home-grown theatrical talents, such as Michael Sheen, Clare Higgins, Tom Hollander and Simon Russell-Beale, in his casts - although he picked Ewan McGregor as leading man when the Donmar produced its first West End musical, Guys and Dolls, at the Piccadilly Theatre.

However, it had been deduced from Cattrall's regular visits to watch London theatre, including the opening night of Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll, at the Royal Court, that she was keen to tread the boards again.

And Josie Rourke, who will direct The Cryptogram, stressed Cattrall had a strong track record on stage. "We met in London a few weeks ago about the project and what was absolutely apparent was that she's got the fierce intelligence that you need to work in detail and rigour on this play. That's what Mamet demands," she said. "She's clearly very excited about the prospect of doing this work and had a real grip on what the play is about."

Cattrall was born in Widnes, Cheshire, in 1956, but her family emigrated to Canada when she was a baby. She returned to England at the age of 11 and studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before embarking on her career in New York, aged 16.

Despite appearances in films including Tribute, opposite Jack Lemmon, Ticket to Heaven, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, it was her role as the sex-obsessed Samantha Jones in Sex and the City which catapulted her to international fame.

Her performance in Peter Hall's revival of the Brian Clark play Whose Life Is It Anyway? received good, if not ecstatic, reviews. The Independent's critic described it as "very moving, if slightly too emphatic".

She will appear at the Donmar from 12 October to 25 November. Other stars who have signed up for the next season include Rhys Ifans, who will appear in Don Juan in Soho, a new version of Moliere, by Patrick Marber.

Penelope Wilton and Ian McDiarmid, the former co-head of the Almeida, who played Emperor Palatine in Star Wars, will star in a new version of Ibsen's play, John Gabriel Borkman.

Alan Cumming is to star in a new production of Martin Sherman's Bent, at the Trafalgar Studios, London, opening 22 September, it was also announced yesterday.

From Hollywood to the Donmar

* Nicole Kidman, The Blue Room (1998)

"A terrific actress who brings all five of her roles to instantly distinctive life ... It's pure theatrical Viagra." Daily Telegraph

* William H Macy, American Buffalo (2000)

"A wonderfully funny performance." The Independent

* Gwyneth Paltrow, Proof (2002)

"So how good is Gwyneth Paltrow? I'd say she's definitely got the theatrical gift." The Guardian

* Olivia Williams, Hotel Amsterdam (2003)

"Olivia Williams as [Anthony Calf's film editor] wife, delicately hints at her closeted passion for Laurie." The Guardian

* Derek Jacobi, A Voyage Round My Father (now)

"Sir Derek, looking rather like EM Forster, powerfully conveys the father's irascibility and theatricality." London Evening Standard