They are two of the UK’s best-loved stars of stage and screen, but have never performed together – until now. For the first time in their celebrated careers, TOM CONTI and GWEN TAYLOR are set to take to the stage in the wickedly satirical comedy BEFORE THE PARTY. Premiering at the Theatre Royal Windsor on 2 September ahead of a short run at 6 selected theatres, Tom Conti will also be directing this brand new production of writer Rodney Ackland’s black comedy, having first directed it in 1980 at the Apollo Theatre in London starring Jane Asher and the late Michael Gough.
TOM CONTI is one of the most respected and celebrated actors of his generation. Unforgettable as the leading man in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and Shirley Valentine, he has also appeared as myriad characters on screen and stage. He was recently voted Most Popular Actor in the West End alongside Dame Judi Dench. This year saw him tour the UK as Juror #8 in Twelve Angry Men, a role he reprised from the successful and sold-out extended run of the drama at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End.
GWEN TAYLOR is best known in recent years for her role as Anne Foster, mother of the villainous Frank Foster in Coronation Street, but she is also much loved for starring in the ITV sitcoms Duty Free, A Bit of A Do with David Jason – for which she was nominated for a Best Actress TV Bafta – and as the lead character in Barbara. She also starred as Peggy Armstrong in Heartbeat, and has appeared in Yes, Prime Minister, Murder Most Horrid, Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders and Fat Friends. Her theatre credits include Driving Miss Daisy, The Butterfly Lion, Prick Up Your Ears and Calendar Girls.
The war is over and the Skinner family is trying to return to normal. If only the blasted Government wasn’t such a nuisance with rationing preventing Cook from acquiring delicious delicacies. With daughter Laura returned from Africa, widowed but not alone, they prepare for the latest social gathering.
Rodney Ackland, who adapted the play from a short story by Somerset Maugham, has recently seen a huge resurgence in the popularity of his work, which is much admired by such artists as Dame Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and originally Dame Edith Evans and Sir John Gielgud.
Ackland is best known for his play Absolute Hell, set in a decaying West End drinking club at the end of the Second World War and performed at the National Theatre in 1996 starring Judi Dench. BEFORE THE PARTY is based on a short story by Somerset Maugham, lauded for his 1915 novel Of Human Bondage, widely considered to be his masterpiece.
TOUR DATES 2015:
2nd – 12th September
Theatre Royal, Windsor
01753 853 888 / http://www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk/details.php?id=348
14th – 19th September
Theatre Royal, Norwich
01603 63 00 00 / https://secure.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk/online/mapSelect.asp
21st – 26th September
New Victoria Theatre, Woking
0844 871 7645 / http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-victoria-theatre/
5th – 10th October
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
01242 572573 / http://www.everymantheatre.org.uk/m-shows/before-the-party/
12th – 17th October
Theatre Royal, Bath
01225 448844 / http://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/
Devonshire Park, Eastbourne
01323 412000 / http://www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk/shows/before-the-party/