Matt Berry, Simon Bird, Lily Cole, Charlotte Ritchie & Tom Rosenthal to star in The Philanthropist directed by Simon Callow at Trafalgar Studios for limited season
Simon Callow directs a new production of Oscar® winner Christopher Hampton’s most celebrated play, The Philanthropist, at the Trafalgar Studios, starring Matt Berry, Simon Bird, Lily Cole, Charlotte Ritchie and Tom Rosenthal. This classic hit comedy features some of today’s best young comedic actors playing the roles at the age Christopher Hampton first intended. The Philanthropist is produced by Howard Panter for Trafalgar Entertainment Group, Simon Friend and Gavin Kalin. The Philanthropist has been delighting audiences since its premiere at the Royal Court in 1970. A biting ‘bourgeois comedy’ and a fiendishly clever inversion of Moliere’s ‘The Misanthrope’, Simon Callow’s new production boasts some of today’s most exciting young stage and screen actors.
Set in a fictitious English University town, strongly evoking Oxford or Cambridge, the play follows 24 hours in the lives of a group of young academics. The action unfolds in the rooms of Philip (Simon Bird), the university’s cosseted and floundering professor of philology, for whom solace and certitude exist in complex wordplay. Out in the ‘real world’ the Prime Minister and his cabinet have been assassinated and England’s most treasured writers are being murdered one by one! Back in the cosy bubble of university life, the bachelor don anguishes over sex, marriage, anagrams and the meaning of life. Did someone suggest academics were ‘out of touch’?
When Philip hosts a dinner party, joined by his stylish and perceptive fiancée Celia (Charlotte Ritchie), his worldlier best friend Donald (Tom Rosenthal), the seductive Araminta (Lily Cole), and the wealthy and egomaniacal novelist Braham (Matt Berry), the evening sets off a chain of events which puncture the rarefied and cerebral world they inhabit. The morning after, the group is left to wade through the emotional detritus and navigate the consequences of their actions.
Christopher Hampton’s other works for the stage include Les Liaisons Dangereuses (recently revived to great acclaim) and Treats. He has also recently received significant acclaim for his translations of three of the internationally acclaimed French dramatist Florian Zeller’s plays; the award-winning smash hit The Father (“translated with venomous flare”) as well as The Mother and The Truth. The Old Vic has also just presented a major re-staging of his translation of Art. Among Christopher’s many screen adaptations are Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Atonement for which he received an Oscar® and an Oscar® nomination respectively.
Simon Callow has directed over 30 shows, including the multi award-winning musical Carmen Jones, the West End and Broadway productions of Shirley Valentine and the award-winning Single Spies by Alan Bennett at the National Theatre and in the West End. Most recently, he has published his second Wagner biography, Being Wagner: The Triumph of the Will (Cole Williams).
THE PHILANTHROPIST plays at Trafalgar Studios 3 April – 22 July 2017
Photo: Shaun Webb