REHEARSALS are under way for the York Theatre Royal and Royal & Derngate Northampton co-production of the world premiere of Alone In Berlin.
Charlotte Emmerson, Denis Conway and Joseph Marcell will lead an ensemble cast, directed by the Royal & Derngate artistic director, James Dacre, and rehearsed in Northampton, where the play will open next month before its York run from March 3 to 21.
Hans Fallada’s novel has been translated and adapted for the stage by Alistair Beaton. Furthermore, the premiere will feature illustrations 25 years in the making by graphic novelist Jason Lutes – from his book Berlin – who collaborates with designer Jonathan Fensom,video designerNina Dunn and lighting designer Charles Balfour.
Cabaret singer Jessica Walker will perform original songs composed by Orlando Gough, complemented by composition and sound design by Donato Wharton.
Set in 1940, Alone In Berlin portrays life in wartime Berlin in a vividly theatrical study of how paranoia can warp a society gripped by the fear of the night-time knock on the door.
Based on true events, the storyline follows a quietly courageous couple who stand up to the brutal reality of the Nazi regime. Through the smallest of acts, they defy Hitler’s rule, facing the gravest of consequences.
This timely story of the moral power of personal resistance tracks Otto and Anna as they negotiate the insidious effects of absolute power on every aspect of daily life. When they decide to make a stand in their unique way, the Gestapo launch a terrifying hunt for the perpetrators.
Otto and Anna find themselves players in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the forces of the state: a game that will eventually lead them down through ever-narrowing circles of totalitarian hell.
Described by Italian Jewish chemist, partisan, Holocaust survivor and writer Primo Levi as “the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis”, Alone In Berlin re-entered the bestseller list three years ago – almost unheard of for a 20th century literary classic – as its themes began to resonate across the world once more.
Although regularly adapted for stage productions across Europe, this York and Northampton co-production, presented in association with the Oxford Playhouse, will be the first time Fallada’s masterpiece has been seen on a British stage.
Dacre’s cast will be led by Denis Conway and Charlotte Emmerson as Otto and Anna Quangel and Joseph Marcell as Inspector Escherich. Conway played opposite Poldark leading man Aidan Turner in Michael Grandage’s The Lieutenant Of Inishmore and is known for his extensive work at Dublin’s Gate Theatre and on screen in Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes The Barley, John Crowley’sBrooklyn and Oliver Stone’s Alexander.
Emmerson’s many credits include title roles in Marianne Elliot’s Therese Raquin (National Theatre) and Laurie Sansom’s The Duchess Of Malfi (Royal & Derngate) and leads in Chekhov’s major plays in productions directed by Peter Stein, Lucy Bailey and Trevor Nunn.
Best known for playing Geoffrey Butler, the butler, in the 1990s’ television series The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, British actor and comedian Marcell was last seen at Royal & Derngate in King John, while his numerous credits for Shakespeare’s Globe include the title role in King Lear.
York Theatre Royal and Royal & Derngate Northampton co-produced Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge last year, directed by Theatre Royal associate director Juliet Forster.
Tickets for the York run of Alone In Berlin are on sale on 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or in person from the Theatre Royal box office.