Mendes returns to the stage - but on Broadway

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The Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes is to return to the stage for the first time in three years to direct a new David Hare play starring the American actress Julianne Moore.

But the production will open not in Britain but on Broadway, this November, the first time the Hare has not premiered his work on home turf.

Following on from Hare's last work, Stuff Happens, which dealt with the diplomatic and political run-up to war in Iraq, Variety magazine reports that The Vertical Hour draws on post-11 September politics.

Moore has been lined up to play Nadia Blye, an American war correspondent-turned-academic who teaches political studies at Yale University. While on holiday with a boyfriend, she meets an Englishman who challenges her beliefs and disrupts her relationship.

She has not been on stage in New York since 1992 when she appeared in Vanya on 42nd Street, a play which revolved around a rehearsal of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya.

Mendes's last stage production was also on Broadway where he directed a revival of the musical Gypsy in 2003.

His most recent play in Britain was the double-bill of - coincidentally - Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night, with a cast including Simon Russell Beale, which were his final productions as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse in London.

Terri Paddock, of the website, said British audiences would be disappointed that the production of a new Hare play by Mendes would be on Broadway.

But there were hopes it might transfer. "It has been rumoured that whatever he did would start there and then hopefully come here," she said.

Although Mendes, 40, has now made three films, the Oscar-winning American Beauty, The Road to Perdition and Jarhead, he began his career in theatre, joining the Chichester Festival Theatre straight from Cambridge University.

He ran the Donmar for a decade where his productions included an award-winning revival of the musical Cabaret and David Hare's play The Blue Room in which Nicole Kidman made her West End debut - and stripped. The performance was famously described as "theatrical Viagra".

Terri Paddock said: "It's true to say that, whatever his film success, theatre-goers will always think of him as a theatre director, not in terms of trying to limit him, but in terms of owning him."

But she noted there had been an unfortunate string of plays in recent years that were huge hits in America but then bombed in Britain - though that seems less likely with this one.

The new play is being produced by the British producer Robert Fox with the American Scott Rudin. They previously worked together on the film of Michael Cunningham's novel The Hours which starred Moore and was adapted by Hare.

Rudin has a long track record of producing Hare's plays including Amy's View, The Judas Kiss and The Blue Room.

They are working in conjunction with Neal Street Productions, the film and theatre production company Mendes founded with Caro Newling and Pippa Harris when he quit as artistic director of the Donmar Warehousen.

Mendes, who married the actress Kate Winslet in 2003, splits his time between homes in New York and London and has spent much of the past couple of years in America on the production of Jarhead.