Hytner lures big names and old friends to £12m the­atre

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Anita Singh ARTS AND EN­TER­TAIN­MENT ED­I­TOR

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.

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