Moliere is having something of a moment in the West End of late with this the third 'revisal' to open in as many months. Whilst Don Juan of Soho and The Miser update their original French sources, Christopher Hampton's The Philanthropist serves as more of a response to his most famous work The Misanthrope, updating the satire on French aristocracy to a university town to provide, as the writer... Read more
Christopher Hampton's play The Philanthropist will be revived in the West End at the Trafalgar Studios this summer. Directed by Simon Callow it will star Matt Berry, Simon Bird, Lily Cole, Charlotte Ritchie and Tom Rosenthal and is produced by Howard Panter for Trafalgar Entertainment Group, Simon Friend and Gavin Kalin.
The Philanthropist last enjoyed a West End revival at the Donmar Warehouse in central London in 2005. Originally written as a response to Molière's The Misanthrope, it was described by the author as being a "bourgeois comedy". Originally opening at the Royal Court Theatre in 1970, it went on to win the Theatre Critic's Award for Best New Play. The Philanthropist quickly transferred to Broadway, opening at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on 15 March 1971, produced by David Merrick and Michael Codron.
The original Broadway production ran for 64 performances and was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Play and Best Actor in a Play. Directed by Robert Kidd, the production featured design by John Gunter and starred Jane Asher, Alec McCowen, Victor Spinetti, Penelope Wilton and Ed Zimmermann.
The Philanthropist was first revived at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1983 where it ran for a limited engagement. It was revived on Broadway again in 2009 by the Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines Theatre in a production which starred Matthew Broderick. Directed by David Grindley, the revival received mixed reviews and ran for 73 performances.
The first London revival at the Donmar Warehouse was praised for its performances: "Christopher Hampton's finest play" (Standard); "highly entertaining production" (Independent); "This is a performance that ranks with his very best" (Guardian); "I was continually gripped, amused and touched by this most civilised and entertaining of comedies...Don't miss it" (Telegraph).
Christopher Hampton’s other works for the stage include Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Treats as well as translations of Florian Zeller’s The Father, The Mother and The Truth. He wrote the book for Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals Sunset Boulevard and Stephen Ward, alongside Rebecca the Musical and Dracula. He won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, 'Dangerous Liaisons'.
Simon Callow will directs this new production of The Philanthropist at the Trafalgar Studios, running from 3 April to 22 July 2017.
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The Prime Minister and his cabinet have been assassinated and England's most treasured writers are being murdered one by one. Back at the university, a bachelor don tries hard to please his academic friends as he anguishes over sex, marriage, anagrams and the meaning of life.