Druid, Abbey productions both set to travel

GALWAY, Ireland — It is highly likely that the Druid Theater Co.’s acclaimed production of J.M. Synge’s “The Playboy of the Western World” will have a West End run in November-December of this year, according to company managing director Fergal McGrath.

Producer Andrew Welch is in talks to bring the show to London.

The production, helmed by Druid a.d. Garry Hynes and starring Cillian Murphy, premiered at the Town Hall Theater here in February (Variety, Feb. 23-29).

This “Playboy” is the first production in “DruidSynge,” the company’s ambitious plan to stage all six of Synge’s completed plays (as well as a reading of “When the Moon Has Set,” which he left unfinished at his death).

Hynes will direct all the productions, the next of which will be “The Well of the Saints” (opening here in September and touring to the Dublin Theater Festival in October) and “The Tinker’s Wedding,” which will tour County Wicklow, where it is set, in the autumn.

McGrath reports “huge interest on three continents” from festivals and venues in presenting the complete Druid Synge plays; negotiations are under way for the plays to be presented at the 2005 Edinburgh Intl. Festival.

Druid’s is not, however, the production of Synge’s “Playboy” that is touring to several U.S. venues and festivals this autumn; that production is directed by Ben Barnes for the Abbey Theater as part of its 100th-anniversary season.

Perpetuating a mounting rivalry between the productions, the Abbey chose to open its “Playboy” June 12 at the Town Hall in Galway — the very venue where Hynes’ premiered four months before.

Starring Tom Vaughan Lawlor, Cathy Belton and Olwen Fouere, Barnes’ “Playboy” tours to seven cities and towns in Ireland and Northern Ireland before landing at the Abbey from Aug. 3-Sept. 11 and then heading to the U.S.

In addition to an Oct. 26-31 run at Gotham’s Skirball Center, it will play New Haven, Boston, Philadelphia, Stamford, Conn., and Chicago.

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