A cast boasting Alan Rickman, Juliet Stevenson, Dexter Fletcher and Miranda Richardson appears to be one that would be better suited to a British rom-com than a contemporary dance piece, but this impressive array of talent has been assembled by choreographer and director Jonathan Lunn, who incidentally worked on Love Actually, to contribute to his new piece, Reading Room, a fusion of dance and spoken word.
According to the BAFTA-winning and two-time Oscar nominee Richardson, a friend of Lunn's who will also be narrating one of the London performances, they will by no means be the main attraction. "The dancers will be doing the majority of the work," said Richardson. "I've been at rehearsals and they are amazing to watch."
The piece explores the relationship between physical and verbal communication through contemporary dance and oral readings. It will be narrated by the aforementioned actors in a series of performances across the country. Samuel Beckett's last prose work, Stirrings Still, poems by Raymond Carver and Billy Collins, and an original work written and pre-recorded by the late Anthony Minghella, will provide the texts that will accompany the work of five dancers.
Lunn, who spent 10 years with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre as a dancer, choreographer and associate director, collaborated with Minghella on Hang Up more than 20 years ago. Later, the pair reunited to write the duet "Self Assembly", which is incorporated into Reading Room. It uses the metaphor of an Ikea flat-pack instruction sheet to imagine a way of making a relationship fit, a theme Richardson feels is echoed throughout the performance.
Despite admitting that the work was somewhat less demanding as the actors do not have to learn the piece, Richardson said: "The attitude has to be the same when you are dealing with people like Beckett, you have to be on your toes."
Southbank Centre, London SE1 (0871 663 2500 ), 5 & 6 June; various performances across the UK until 28 June