Hytner lures big names and old friends to £12m theatre
WHEN Nicholas Hytner unveiled the productions yesterday that will launch his new Bridge Theatre, there was something familiar about the line-up.
Hytner has lured star names who worked with him at the National Theatre, where he spent 12 years as artistic director, beginning a rivalry that will only deepen as the two companies compete for audiences on the same stretch of the Thames.
The £12 million Bridge Theatre will launch with a play written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, the pair who gave the National one of its biggest hits with One Man, Two Guvnors.
The play, Young Marx, is about Karl Marx’s exile in London and will star Rory Kinnear, an actor long associated with the National after giving a string of award-winning performances there, including Hamlet and as Iago in Othello.
It will be followed by a production of
Julius Caesar, featuring Ben Whishaw as Brutus and David Morrissey as Mark Antony, and a play about JS Bach with Simon Russell Beale playing the lead.
The riverside theatre, close to Tower Bridge and City Hall, will open on Oct 26. Hytner said: “We want to make bold, popular theatre. We’ve commissioned ambitious plays that reach out to embrace the audience, and we’ve built an environment for them that is exciting, welcoming and flexible.
“We reckon that London needs new theatres, designed for the shows that people make in the 21st century and the expectations that audiences have for a really good night out.”
The theatre has been bankrolled by venture capitalists and is sited in a luxury housing development that will also house a branch of The Ivy.
As the first large-scale commercial theatre to be built in London in 80 years, the Bridge will have a 900-seat auditorium and facilities unavailable in older West End theatres – the company has taken into account complaints elsewhere about queues for the ladies’ lavatories.