David Mamet play based on Weinstein scandal to star John Malkovich in London
A new play by David Mamet tackling the Harvey Weinstein scandal is set to premiere in the West End later this year, and will star John Malkovich making his first stage appearance in almost three decades at the Garrick Theatre.
Titled Bitter Wheat, the play will focus on a Hollywood studio head called Barney Fein who falls from a position of power to put of shame. The play comes after Mamet revealed he had written a play about the scandal surrounding Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual assault by over 80 women between the years of 1980 and 2015.
Weinstein co-founded the entertainment company Miramax with his brother in 1979, and it went on to produce some of the biggest films in modern cinema, with successes including Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love and Chicago, and Weinstein was considered one of the most powerful figures in the industry.
In October 2017, articles published by The New York Times and The New Yorker reported that over a dozen women had accused Weinstein of sexually harassing, assaulting or raping them, by abusing his power within the industry. As more women reported their experience of abuse as a result, the hashtag #MeToo began to trend, with people sharing their experiences of sexual abuse; something described as ‘The Weinstein Effect’.
Mamet, who also wrote the play Oleanna about a professor and a student accusing him of rape, first revealed he was working on a play based on the scandal in an interview with the Chicago Tribune last year, in which he said: “I was talking with my Broadway producer and he said, ‘Why don’t you write a play about Harvey Weinstein?’ And so I did.”
John Malkovich stars as Barney Fein in Bitter Wheat. He has previously directed in London, with a production of Good Canary at the Rose Theatre Kingston in 2016. On Broadway, his credits include stagings of A Streetcar Named Desire, True West and Death of a Salesman. Bitter Wheat will be his first stage work in the West End since he appeared in the Dusty Hughes play A Slip of the Tongue at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1992.
The play will also star Doon Mackichan, known for her work on television series such as Plebs and Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge as Fein's assistant Sondra, and Ionna Kimbrook, who will make her theatre debut in the play as Yung Kim Li. Further casting is set to be announced.
Bitter Wheat will be directed by Mamet, and will have designs by Christopher Oram, and lighting by Neil Austin.
Bitter Wheat tickets go on sale at 12pm today.