Adrian Lester in Red Velvet at the Garrick Theatre
Audiences are already anticipating the opening of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company season, with the likes of The Winter’s Tale and Harlequinade/All On Her Own set to begin performances shortly. Now another production has been added to the list as the acclaimed performer Adrian Lester is set to appear in Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet, following his previous portrayal of Ira Aldridge in the production at the Tricycle Theatre in 2012.
Red Velvet deals with the issue of race in 1833 and introduces us to the black American actor Ira Aldridge, whose next career move could be the source of contention in an era when slavery has only recently been abolished. He is tasked with playing Othello on the stage when Edmund Kean is forced to step down and as there have recently been riots due to the recent abolition there is debate as to the public reaction.
The show was staged at the Tricycle in 2012 with Lester in the lead role and this is the first time the play will be seen in the West End. It is bound to be an eye-opening production even during a season that is welcoming some high profile shows.
Adrian Lester is sure to be one of the many sources of anticipation for the production. He has played Othello himself in 2013 when the Shakespearean play was staged at the National Theatre. His other credits Henry V at the National Theatre and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre, amongst others. The award-winning performer has also appeared on television screens in the likes of Hustle, Bonekickers and Merlin, whilst his film credits include Primary Colors (sic), Love’s Labour’s Lost (directed by Kenneth Branagh), The Day After Tomorrow and Doomsday.
As well as the mentioned The Winter’s Tale (with Judi Dench) and Harlequinade/All On Her Own (with Zoë Wanamaker), the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company season also includes productions like The Painkiller (with Rob Brydon), The Entertainer and Romeo & Juliet. Branagh himself appears in some of the productions and also directs. Red Velvet will be directed by Indhu Rubasingham.
Red Velvet is at the Garrick Theatre from Monday 1st February 2016 (previews from Saturday 23rd January 2016) to Saturday 27th February 2016.