First Look: Rehearsal images: Absolute Hell at the National Theatre
Absolute Hell by Rodney Ackland
Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins
Previews from 18 April, press night 25 April
Bomb-blasted London. A Soho den in the hangover from World War II, where members drink into the darkness, night after night. Lying, fighting and seducing, these lost souls and bruised lovers struggle from the rubble of war towards an unknown future.
Rodney Ackland’s extraordinarily provocative play was condemned as ‘a libel on the British people’ when first performed in 1952. Now it emerges as an intoxicating plunge into post-war Soho; full of despair and longing. Joe Hill-Gibbins returns to the NT to direct a large ensemble in this new production.
The cast includes Esh Alladi, Elizabeth Andrewartha, Ashley Byan, Jonathan Coote, Rachel Dale, Carole Dance, Joanna David, Charles Edwards, Patricia England, Kate Fleetwood, Jenny Galloway, Frazer Hadfield, Aaron Heffernan, Simon Hepworth, Lloyd Hutchinson, Martins Imhangbe, Stephanie Jacob, Fiz Marcus, Sinéad Matthews, Connor Mills, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Anita Reynolds, John Sackville, Liza Sadovy, Jonathan Slinger, Eileen Walsh, Danny Webb and Jade Yourell.
With set design by Lizzie Clachan, costume design by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Jon Clark, associate direction and movement by Jenny Ogilvie, sound design by Paul Arditti and music direction by Harvey Brough.
Absolute Hell was first performed at the National Theatre in the Lyttelton Theatre in 1995, directed by Anthony Page. The cast included Judi Dench as Christine Foskett, who won an Olivier Award for Best Actress for her performance the following year.
Talks and Events
Censorship in Post-War Theatre – Friday 27 April, 5.30pm
Absolute Hell – British Theatre after the Blitz – Tuesday 15 May, 2pm
Soho Then and Now – Wednesday 16 May, 5.30pm
Kate Fleetwood and Jonathan Slinger on Absolute Hell – Wednesday 13 June, 4pm
Joe Hill-Gibbins and Lizzie Clachan on Absolute Hell – Wednesday 13 June, 5.30pm
Night and the City film screening – Monday 11 June, 5pm
Press Night: Wednesday 25 April, 7pm