Ralph Fiennes to Star in David Hare Coronavirus Play in London

Ralph Fiennes to Star in David Hare Coronavirus Play in London

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” actor Ralph Fiennes will star in a production of “Beat the Devil,” a new play by eminent playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter David Hare (“The Reader,” “The Hours”).

Theater director Nicholas Hytner, BAFTA winner for the film “The Madness of King George,” will direct the production, which will be staged at London’s Bridge Theater.

The play will be staged in September and October, if the U.K. government gives the go ahead for indoor performances with socially distanced audiences.

“We are hoping that we will get the green light to open with a reduced capacity of 250 seats and stringent safety measures, and we are inviting audiences from today to book seats with the assurance that, of course, if the season is delayed there will be automatic refunds for any performances that can’t go ahead,” the theater said in a statement.

A monologue, “Beat the Devil” is written as a response to Hare’s experience of contracting coronavirus. “On the same day that the U.K. government finally made the first of two decisive interventions that led to a conspicuously late lockdown, David Hare contracted COVID-19,” states the play description.

“Nobody seemed to know much about it then, and many doctors are not altogether sure they know much more today. Suffering a pageant of apparently random symptoms, Hare recalls the delirium of his illness, which mix with fear, dream, honest medicine and dishonest politics to create a monologue of furious urgency and power.”

In addition, The Bridge is also staging the series of Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads” that the London Theater Company produced for the BBC and was broadcast in June. Eight of the actors – Monica Dolan, Tamsin Greig, Lesley Manville, Lucian Msamati, Maxine Peake, Rochenda Sandall, Kristin Scott Thomas and Imelda Staunton – will reprise their roles from the series, on The Bridge stage. Three monologues – “An Evening with an Immigrant,” “Quarter Life Crisis” and “Nine Lives” – from Inua Ellams, Yolanda Mercy and Zodwa Nyoni, respectively, will run alongside them, the first two played by their authors, the third by Lladel Bryant.

In July, the U.K. government launched a $1.9 billion lifeline for the arts sector that includes theater. The sector has been severely impacted by the pandemic, with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” being a high-profile casualty.

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