The Classic Hit Comedy
By CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON
In a new production directed by SIMON CALLOW
3rd April – 22nd July, 2017
Strictly limited season
“Intellectually stimulating, touchingly sympathetic and gloriously, gloriously funny”
MATT BERRY, SIMON BIRD, LILY COLE, CHARLOTTE RITCHIE & TOM ROSENTHAL
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.
“I am a man of no convictions. At least I think I am.”
As central character Philip, played by Simon Bird, says.
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.
Acclaimed director Simon Callow says: “When Christopher Hampton’s The Philanthropist first burst onto the world, he was 23; the play was really about his contemporaries, but neither then, nor ever since, has it been cast at the right age. I’m very excited, not only to be doing the play, which I think one of the funniest, sharpest plays in the English language, but to be doing it with a group of brilliantly witty and original young actors who will reveal the play as it’s never been seen before”.
BAFTA award winning writer, actor and musician Matt Berry is best known for his roles in comedy hits The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh (BBC3), and as star and writer of sitcom Toast of London(Channel 4). Berry most recently appeared in the feature length drama The Last Dragonslayer (SKY 1).
Simon Bird is best known for his star-making turn in the hugely successful, BAFTA winning The Inbetweeners (E4) which ran for three series, and its two globally successful movies (The Inbetweeners Movie still holds the record for highest grossing UK opening weekend for any comedy film), as well as Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4), which to date has run for four series.
Lily Cole’s screen credits include St Trinian’s, Ab Fab: The Movie, and Snow White and The Huntsman. Cole has amassed theatre credits including The Last Days of Troy (Royal Exchange, Manchester), and The Old Vic’s 24 hour plays, for which she performed alongside an all-star cast.
Tom Rosenthal has established himself as one of the UK’s foremost stand-up and screen comedians, known for his roles in hit comedies Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4), alongside his The Philanthropist co-star Simon Bird, and the British Comedy Award winning series Plebs (ITV2). He also featured in the second series of the award-winning crime drama Broadchurch (ITV). Rosenthal performed in the critically acclaimed Chicken Soup with Barley at The Royal Court, directed by Dominic Cooke.
Completing the cast is Charlotte Ritchie, best known as Nurse Barbara Gilbert in the much lauded drama series Call the Midwife (BBC 1). Ritchie has also showcased her comedic skills in hit comedies Fresh Meat (Channel 4) and Siblings (BBC3). Her theatre credits include One Night in November and the recent successful production of Private Lives.
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 andThe 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).
Critical praise for The Philanthropist:
“Christopher Hampton’s finest play”
“The play begins with a wickedly funny coup de theatre”
“One of the most delightful and subtle comedies of the last century”
“A clever, witty inversion of Molière’s great comedy ‘The Misanthrope’”
Dates: Monday 3 April – Saturday 22 July
Press night: Thursday 20 April: 7.00 pm
Performances: Monday to Saturday: 7.30pm, matinees Thursday and Saturday: 2.30pm
Tickets: From £19:50
Box Office: www.atgtickets.com/the-philanthropist / 0844 871 7632