Heads it"s Lia – tails it"s Kristin: The toss of a coin will decide leading lady for Harold Pinter"s revived play


Heads it's Lia – tails it's Kristin: The toss of a coin will decide leading lady for Harold Pinter's revived play

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UPDATED:

23:22 GMT, 9 August 2012

The toss of a coin will determine which role award-winning actresses Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams will play each night in a revival of Harold Pinter’s Old Times.

This dramatic swap means that leading man Rufus Sewell may not always know who’s who until the curtain goes up.

The play, originally staged by Peter Hall with Colin Blakely, Dorothy Tutin and Vivien Merchant (Pinter’s then wife), is set in a swanky farmhouse where married couple Deeley and Kate chat about an impending visit from Kate’s old friend and roommate Anna, whom they haven’t seen for 20 years.

Lia Williams

Kristin Scott Thomas

The flip of a coin will determine which role Lia Williams (left) and Kristin Scott Thomas will play

This is one of Pinter’s ‘memory’ plays, so it’s the past that betrays. When Anna does arrive, all three discuss incidents that may, or may not, have happened.

Ian Rickson, who rehearses the new production in late November, thought it would be ‘creatively exciting to mine the play, by having both women playing the parts and swapping on different nights’.

He says there’s a ‘very strong connection between Anna and Kate and they do somehow share the same soul’. Others think the two women could even be aspects of the same person.

‘Sometimes we might even toss a coin to decide who goes on playing what part,’ says Rickson. ‘Rufus also loves the idea, because it gives him lots of opportunity.’

Rufus Sewell won't know who is to play his leading lady until the curtain comes up

Rufus Sewell won't know who is to play his leading lady until the curtain comes up

This follows another major swap, set up
by Danny Boyle when he directed Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee
Miller in Frankenstein at the National Theatre.

This column was first with the news that he had decided to have his stars alternate between the monster and his creator.

Rickson would not have dreamt of splitting the roles unless he knew the actresses well. He has directed Scott Thomas twice before: in her Olivier-award winning role in The Seagull and more recently in another Pinter classic, Betrayal. Rickson directed Williams in The Hothouse at the National, and what’s more, the actress has an innate understanding of the point of a Pinter pause.

‘They both have this wonderful, deep intensity — as has Rufus,’ the director told me.

Old Times will begin previews, appropriately enough, at The Harold Pinter Theatre (the old Comedy Theatre) around January 12. A spokeswoman for producer Sonia Friedman said that date was still being finalised. An official opening night will be held late in January, with tickets going on sale in the autumn.

Rickson will direct Jez Butterworth’s new play The River before he gets to Old Times. He has just received the latest draft of the play. Performances start at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs on October 18. They famously collaborated, along with Mark Rylance, on Jerusalem, which was a phenomenal hit in London and New York.

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MARATHON legend Haile Gebrselassie admires one athlete above all others, and shared his secret in conversation with Stephen Daldry at the Criterion Theatre on Tuesday. He said that while he applauds sport stars with multiple Olympic medals (including swimmer Michael Phelps with 18 golds) it doesn’t mean they’re the greatest.
So who, in his opinion, is tops
Paula Radcliffe — even though she missed out on Olympic glory. ‘I’m telling you, she’s the best long-distance runner,’ he said. ‘She has achieved more than anybody. She’s the one: her marathon, her 10,000 metres — amazing!’
It was extraordinary to listen to a man who could end up president of Ethiopia.
At 1pm today, actor Clive Owen will be at the Criterion talking to Rwandan mountain biker Adrien Niyonshuti.

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Joe Cole is the next big thing

Joe Cole is the next big thing

The day after Joe Cole and I had cold drinks at Costa in Olympia I bumped into a top film executive and the moment I mentioned Cole’s name he exclaimed: ‘He’s going places!’

Cole has done Skins, and he’s in the second series of The Hour. But it’s the scorching performance he gives in low budget film Offender, which opened Wednesday, that marks him out.

Offender is about Tommy, played with fantastic ferocity by Cole, who gets himself locked up in a young offenders institution so he can get at the ruthless yobs who beat up his pregnant girlfriend.

‘He hasn’t seen the bigger picture — which is the rest of his life,’ Cole explained. The anger and sadness expressed by Cole’s character is what makes the film work.

Cole thought his own life was over when he dropped out of college. He felt he had disappointed his parents and, for a while, he moved away.

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Sian Phillips will join the cast

Sian Phillips, Harriet Thorpe and Matt Rawle, who will be joining Will Young and Michelle Ryan in director Rufus Norris’s new production of the Fred Ebb/ John Kander musical Cabaret.

Ms Thorpe was in Norris’s last iteration of the show, based on Christopher Isherwood’s study of life at the Kit Kat Klub as the Nazis were on the rise in pre-war Berlin. The show will play four performances at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley from August 30 before moving into the Savoy Theatre from October 4.

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Action man: Renner takes the stage

Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz, who star in The Bourne Legacy, the fourth in the Bourne movie series.

He is also the first not to star Matt Damon as Jason Bourne.

Renner, who was in the last Mission Impossible and The Avengers, plays Aaron Cross, who gets caught up in a rogue CIA operation.

When the whole thing comes crashing down, Renner and research scientist Weisz are forced to go on the run.

It’s a marvellously intense thriller and though it helps if you’ve seen the other Bourne movies, you can still have a good time if you haven’t.

Just sit back and go with it.

Bourne 5 will shoot late next year.