In recent years Joanna Lumley has been more often found in the corridors of Westminster than on the boards of the West End. However, this summer she will return to the London stage for the first time in 15 years to star in a revival of the historical comedy, La Bête.
Billed alongside the British comedienne are David Hyde Pierce – the haughty "Niles" in the US sitcom Frasier – and Mark Rylance, currently the lead in Jerusalem at the Apollo. In a bold move, the Matthew Warchus-directed play will transfer immediately to New York in the autumn for the 63-year-old Lumley's Broadway debut. The global success of Absolutely Fabulous has given Ms Lumley a following in the US.
Set in 17th-century France, Lumley will play a fickle princess caught between Hyde Pierce's supercilious classical playwright Elomire and Rylance's crude street clown. La Bête was written by David Hirson and first performed in 1991 in New York. Its West End adaptation won the 1992 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy.