Though musicals are much more expensive to produce than dramas, which themselves cost about £350,000 to stage, they have a better chance of surviving and making money; hence, half the theatres in the West End are now staging musicals. Typically, however, a successful drama revival is likely to be of a play perceived as “classic”: they are known quantities and attract star players. So the West End can currently boast Kathleen Turner in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Woody Harrelson in Night of the Iguana, Martin Shaw in A Man for All Seasons and Edward Fox in You Never Can Tell. The same rule applies to the few examples of new work. Embers, previewing now, is a novel-adaptation by a “name” writer, Christopher Hampton, and comes armed with a heavyweight star — Jeremy Irons. Ditto with a newish play, Honour, starring Diana Rigg, which premiered at the National three years ago. Pretty safe bets for their backers.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Is it still possible to succeed with a new play in the West End, asks Richard Brooks in The Times.