Maggie Gyllenhaal to take to New York stage as sexually frustrated pregnant woman in The Village Bike

Alice Jones' Arts Diary

Taking the lead from her younger brother, Jake, Maggie Gyllenhaal will star in a hit of the London stage in New York next year.

Jake appeared in Nick Payne’s 2009 Bush Theatre play If There Is I Haven’t Found it Yet, last autumn. Now Maggie, whose two previous off-Broadway credits are Chekhov’s Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya, will take the lead in The Village Bike, Penelope Skinner’s comedy about a sexually frustrated pregnant woman which got rave reviews at the Royal Court in 2011 and won her the Evening Standard award for Most Promising Playwright.

The Village Bike will open at the Lucille Lortel in May 2014 in an MCC Theatre production led by Sam Gold, who directed Matthew Rhys Look Back in Anger last year. “It has been in the offing since the beginning of the year but has taken a long time to tie down the dates”, Skinner tells me. “I’m a massive fan of Maggie’s work. I’ve tried not to get too excited but it really is too exciting.”

Skinner, making her New York debut, will fly to America for further casting before sitting in on rehearsals next year. “It’s going to keep the England setting so Maggie will be doing a British accent”, she says. “I’m not intending to change specific English references but I guess some things won’t translate. It’s hard to know what they will be until we’re in the room. We share the same language but it’s more culturally different than you think.”

Will she temper her script – packed with innuendo and porn fantasies – for New York audiences, traditionally more conservative than in London? “I hope not. From what Sam has said, he’s keen on all of that. He’s not afraid of being provocative and challenging.”

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