Friday, 20 March 2015

Anna Karenina at the Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse present

From the novel by Leo Tolstoy
Adaptation by Jo Clifford
 Directed by Ellen McDougall
Designed by Joanna Scotcher

The Royal Exchange Theatre
St Ann’s Square, Manchester
Thursday 19 March – Saturday 2 May 2015

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre launches its new Spring – Summer 2015 Season with Olivier-nominated Ellen McDougall directing Jo Clifford’s stripped back, contemporary adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel ANNA KARENINA – a co-production with West Yorkshire Playhouse. 

This is the Exchange’s second collaboration with Leeds’ WYP following the huge success of SWEENEY TODD in autumn 2013. ANNA KARENINA runs in The Theatre from Thursday 19 March to Saturday 2 May and transfers to Leeds on Saturday 9 May. 

ANNA KARENINA tells the story of Anna - a dutiful wife and a loving mother. When she meets Alexis Vronsky, she finds she cannot deny the life-affirming truth of her own heart. She quickly realises the conventional world she inhabits is intent on crushing this new life she has discovered within her. 

In a parallel story, Levin is trying to live justly in a social system built on injustice. When his love for a childhood friend ends unhappily, he tries to deny its existence. But like Anna discovers he cannot. 

Tolstoy's epic masterpiece explores what happens when two very different couples grapple with the strongest emotion we humans are capable of feeling – love. 

Ony Uhiara, who takes the title role, was last seen in the world premiere of Rory Mullarkey’s CANNIBALS. Other recent theatre credits include EYE OF A NEEDLE (Southwark Playhouse); IDOMENEUS (Gate Theatre); THE EL TRAIN (Hoxton Hall); ILLUSIONS (Actors Touring Company); SIXTY SIX BOOKS (The Bush Theatre); MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (The Globe). ). Film credits include: VENUS and SIXTY 6 and recent TV credits work includes LAW AND ORDER, STOLEN, WHITE VAN MAN and CRIMINAL JUSTICE. 

The cast also includes Anthony Barclay, Donna Berlin, Claire Brown, John Cummins, Ryan Early, Robert Gilbert, Jonathan Keeble and Gillian Saker 

Olivier-nominated director Ellen McDougall makes her Royal Exchange debut with this fast-moving modern version of one of the greatest novels ever written. 

She received an Olivier nomination for her 2010 production of IVAN AND THE DOGS (ATC, Soho, UK tour and Rustaveli Theatre, Georgia). Other recent credits include TELLING TALES (Almeida); PHILOCTETES (Unicorn) SHOWS 1 and 2 (Secret Theatre) for Lyric Theatre Hammersmith; SPRING AWAKENING and IDOMENEUS (Gate Theatre) and NOT NOW BERNARD (Unicorn Theatre and touring). 

Writer Jo Clifford is the author of over 70 plays, many of which have been performed all over the world. These include LOSING VENICE, EVERY ONE, FAUST, THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE and GREAT EXPECTATIONS). Last year she revived her GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN. 

Playing alongside ANNA KARENINA, 2013 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting winner THE ROLLING STONE by Chris Urch receives its world premiere in The Theatre from Tuesday 21 April to Friday 1 May 2015. 

Also directed by Ellen McDougall – and drawing from the same cast and creative team - it tells a very different story of lovers at odds with society.  

Dembe and Sam have been seeing each other for a while. They should be wondering where this is going and when to introduce each other to their families. But they’re gay and this is Uganda and the consequences of being discovered will be violent and explosive.

Both productions are designed by Joanna Scotcher. The creative team is completed by Lizzie Powell (lighting), Tom Gibbons (sound) and Wilkie Branson (movement).

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