Although we’re a bit confused as to exactly what is going on with iconic Hammersmith arts complex Riverside Studios these days, the fact it went into administration back in March doesn’t seem to have slowed it down especially.
In fact this Christmas it’ll stage its biggest production in years, as screen stars Woody Harrelson and Andy Serkis return to the London stage for the first time in aeons for a revival of caustic Irish playwright David Ireland’s 2018 Edinburgh Fringe smash ‘Ulster American’.
The provocative comedy about misogyny and callous English and American attitudes towards the island of Ireland will co-star ‘Derry Girls’ alumnus Louisa Harland as a Northern Irish playwright Ruth, whose big break has arrived in the form of a prestige production of one of her works starring a major Hollywood star Jay (Harrelson) and big name English director Leigh (Serkis). Unfortunately, the two men are truly horrible people.
While the original Edinburgh production uncomfortably milked the men’s misogyny for laughs, this revival is helmed by top-flight director Jeremy Herrin, who should be able to steer his way through Ireland’s savage satire a little more defty.
Whatever the case, it’s clearly a treat to see two major stars in such an intimate venue. From ‘Cheers’ to ‘True Detective’ the storied Harrelson has a ludicrously prestigious CV that scarcely needs an introduction. He’s done a fair amount of theatre too, although he hasn’t been seen over here since a 2005 revival of Tennessee Williams’s ‘Night of the Iguana’. Brit Serkis was a London state regular until he hit it big with the Lord of the Rings trilogy – but we’re pretty sure this is his first stage role since 2001.
All in all it’s a pretty impressive ticket for a London Christmas season that already includes a ‘Stranger Things’ play, David Tennant doing ‘Macbeth’ and other such treats.
‘Ulster American’ is at Riverside Studios Dec 4-Jan 28. Tickets go on sale at 10am Oct 12, or sign up here for priority booking on Oct 10.