Regional legit powerhouse Chichester Festival Theater will present two world premieres, the 76th play from Brit scribe Alan Ayckbourn and a string of revivals including a production of “Antony and Cleopatra” starring Kim Cattrall.
Among the preems is “A Marvelous Year for Plums,” a new thriller by Hugh Whitemore set in 1956 during the political turmoil of the Suez crisis. Helmed by Philip Franks, the production runs May 11-June 2 with a May 17 press night.
Meanwhile, playwright Michael Wynne (“The Priory”) makes his Chichester debut with “Canvas.” The comedy, about three couples on a camping holiday who discover that a rural idyll isn’t the best way to get away from it all, is directed by Angus Jackson and runs May 18-June 16 with a May 24 press night in the Minerva Studio.
Ayckbourn will direct his own play “Surprises” following its premiere earlier in the year at his home venue, the Stephen Joseph Theater in Scarborough. A comedy set in the future, it examines an interconnected set of people whose expectations about love are overturned. The play will run in tandem with Ayckbourn’s own revival of his 1972 hit “Absurd Person Singular,” with the two-play engagement set to run Aug. 8-Sept. 8.
The only tuner on the slate is a new staging of “Kiss Me Kate” helmed by Trevor Nunn. Running June 18-Sept. 1, musical is choreographed by Stephen Mear.
Opening the season is a new production of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” (March 30-April 28). Helmed by Jeremy Herrin, “Vanya” stars Roger Allam, Dervla Kirwin and Timothy West.
That’s followed by new productions of William Congreve’s Restoration comedy “The Way of the World,” helmed by Rachel Kavanaugh, and “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui,” directed by Chichester a.d. Jonathan Church and starring Henry Goodman.
Derek Jacobi leads Richard Clifford’s new production of George Bernard Shaw’s “Heartbreak House,” while the Cattrall-toplined “Antony and Cleopatra,” originally produced at Liverpool’s Everyman Theater in 2010 and now co-starring Michael Pennington, runs Sept. 7-29. Helmed by Janet Suzman, the production is currently eyeing a later West End berth.
Rounding out the season is Jonathan Kent’s new production of Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” starring Anna Chancellor and Toby Stephens (Sept. 21-Oct. 27).