With Matthew Perry’s playwriting debut in London last week, here’s what other actors are bringing to the stage this year.
Early this month, the runaway hit play, Nell Gywnn, moved from Shakepeare’s Globe Theatre to the West End, and with that Arterton made her debut, taking over the role of Gywnn from Gugu Mbatha-Raws (who played the title role earlier). Directed by Jessica Swale, it follows the story of Gywnn who trains as an actress at a time when women hadn’t appeared on stage yet. When King Charles II permits women to act on stage, he ends up watching Gywnn and falls in love with her. Complications follow because both are already in relationships. In an interview with The Telegraph, Arterton said, “Everyone thinks of Nell as a prostitute — and maybe she was. But she was also renowned for her wit.” The actress, who turned 30 on February 2, apparently shares her birthday with Gywnn, which is a lovely coincidence.
Oscar-winning actress (for Twelve Years a Slave) Nyong’o is making her Broadway debut with the new play Eclipsed, in March. A heartbreaking story by Danai Gurira, it is set in an army camp in Liberia where the rebel leader holds four women as his sexual captives during the 2007 civil war. In an interview, the actress was quoted to have said, “This was something that I brought to the table because it had moved me in a way that I wanted to perform it and to share it with people.”
Fiennes’ new play, The Master Builder, opened to a full house at London’s West End earlier this month. Needless to say, it has won quite a few compliments already. The Henrik Ibsen play, adapted for stage by David Hare, centres around Halvard Solness (Fiennes), a middle-aged master builder who’s worried about losing his place in the professional world to the younger and more educated. His life takes a turn when he meets Hilde Wangel (Sarah Snook), a woman he had apparently ‘promised to be with’ when she was 14 years old.
End of Longing, the play Perry has written and acted in, debuted on February 2 at West End, and, by self-admission, he “is very narcissistic,” about it. In an interview with The Daily Mail, the 46-year-old said that the play is about “four broken people yearning for love”, and their path is “bumpy and, hopefully funny.” Incidentally, he is acting in a play after 12 years! Perry, whose battle with drugs and alcoholism is no mystery to the world, ironically plays the role of a drunk in End of Longing, and in an interview stated that playing the character is “a slightly exaggerated form of myself”.
Okay, Jon Snow (Game of Thrones) is no more, but 29-year-old Harington is all set to make his appearance on the London stage with Jamie Lloyd’s production of Doctor Faustus. The story has Lloyd take the four- centuries-old story and place it in a society that’s obsessed with greed. Harington, who was last seen on stage in 2010, told BBC News that he is learning the art of illusion for the play, and was quoted to have said, “I see him (Lloyd) as a magician in the vein of David Copperfield or David Blaine.”
The 54-year-old Oscar-winning actor made his Broadway debut last week in Hughie. Pulitzer Prize-winner Eugene O’Neill’s play, it is about a drunken hustler called Erie Smith, who’s saddened by the death of Hughie, a hotel night clerk. When asked about Smith (Whitaker’s role), the actor was quoted to have said, “The other day, I started seeing him dancing in my head, moving around like he’s not full yet, like one of those animated characters in a computer, and he’s saying: ‘Hey, Forest! Don’t you see me? I’m here! I’m here! Let me out! Let me out!’”