A Room With A View is set to open in Bath in a major new stage production of E.M. Forster’s much-loved novel, adapted by Simon Reade and directed by former RSC Artistic Director Adrian Noble. The eleven-strong cast led by Felicity Kendal also features Simon Jones, Abigail McKern, Joanne Pearce and Jeff Rawle. The play will appear at Bath’s Theatre Royal from Wednesday 28th September to Saturday 8th October before touring to Brighton, Richmond, Guildford, Norwich, Cambridge and Chichester.
English rose Lucy Honeychurch is touring Italy with her prim spinster cousin Charlotte Bartlett as chaperone. Charlotte is quick to step in when Lucy makes the mistake of fraternising with the lower-class Mr Emerson and his son George at their Florentine pensione. However, when she witnesses Lucy and George kissing, she has no option but to whisk Lucy away to Rome.
Back home at the family’s Surrey estate, Lucy becomes engaged to the eminently suitable (but priggish and pretentious) Cecil Vyse. Charlotte has sworn Lucy to secrecy over the kiss with George, but will Lucy be able to repress her feelings when she discovers that the Emersons have taken a house in the village?
With its cast of vivid characters, this elegant comedy, written in 1908, is widely recognised as one of the finest novels of the twentieth century. The award-winning Merchant Ivory film adaptation in 1985 was voted number nine in The Guardian’s list of the best romantic films of all time.
One of the UK’s most popular actresses, Felicity Kendal plays Charlotte Bartlett. Well known for her illustrious television and stage career, she has starred in many popular series including The Good Life, Solo, The Mistress (which was filmed in Bath), Rosemary and Thyme and won numerous awards for her stage work. In 2010, she took part in BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing. Her extensive theatre credits include Amadeus, Othello, On the Razzle, Arcadia and Humble Boy, all at the National Theatre. In the West End, her many credits include Clouds, for which she won the Variety Club Best Actress of the Year Award, and Much Ado About Nothing and Ivanov with Alan Bates, for which she won the Evening Standard Best Actress Award. Her recent performances in Bath have included Alan Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking in 2012 and 2013, and Noël Coward’s Hay Fever in 2014, both of which enjoyed West End success. Her many previous performances in Bath also include Fallen Angels in 2000, Happy Days in 2003, Amy’s View in 2006, The Vortex in 2008, and Mrs Warren’s Profession in 2009, all of which played the Theatre Royal prior to the West End.
Simon Jones appears as Mr Beebe. His television roles include playing ‘Bridey’, the Earl of Brideshead, in Brideshead Revisited alongside Jeremy Irons and Diana Quick, Sir Walter Raleigh in Blackadder, and Arthur Dent in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. His film work includes Privates on Parade, Miracle on 34th Street, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Brazil, Twelve Monkeys and The Devil’s Own. His many stage credits, on both sides of the Atlantic, include Blithe Spirit alongside Angela Lansbury in the West End and on tour in America; Amadeus with Rupert Everett at Chichester Festival Theatre; and The Real Thing on Broadway.
Olivier Award-winning Abigail McKern plays the roles of Signora Bertolini and Mrs Honeychurch. An alumna of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, her numerous stage credits include Brave New World and A Tale of Two Cities at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate and on tour; The Cherry Orchard, The School for Scandal and The Magistrate, all of which toured to Bath; and, earlier in her career, As You Like It, for which she won the 1984 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. On television, she co-starred with her late father, actor Leo McKern, in three series of Rumpole of the Bailey. Her many screen credits also include The Night Manager, Jonathan Creek, Bonkers, Wish Me Luck and The Charmer. She performed in both the screen and stage adaptations of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, which played the Theatre Royal Bath in 2007.
Jeff Rawle appears as Mr Emerson. Currently known to Hollyoaks fans as the menacing Silas Blissett, a role he has played since 2010; Jeff is also well known to fans of Drop the Dead Donkey for his role as George Dent in sixty-six episodes of the cult classic in the 1990s. In a television career spanning over forty years, he played the title role in Billy Liar in the early 1970s and has since appeared in countless favourite series ranging from Doctor Who to Doc Martin. Earlier this month, he performed in BBC4’s Lost Sitcoms series playing Albert Steptoe in Steptoe and Son.
Joanne Pearce appears as Eleanor Lavish. Her previous performances at the Theatre Royal Bath include Kean in 2007 and The Entertainer in 1986. Her television credits range from The Young Ones and The Jury to Inspector Lewis, Murphy’s Law, Lovejoy and Silent Witness.
Reverend Cuthbert Eager is played by David Killick, who has performed at the Theatre Royal many times, most recently in The Importance of Being Earnest in 2015, and Bath’s Summer Season productions of The School for Scandal in 2012 and A Little Hotel on the Side in 2013.
The cast also features Charlie Anson (Downton Abbey, Peaky Blinders) as Cecil Vyse, Lauren Coe (Camelot, Primeval) as Lucy Honeychurch, Tom Morley (Pitcairn, The Musketeers, Humans) as George Emerson, with Susie Fairfax as Miss Teresa Alan and Jack Loxton as Freddy.
A former Literary Manager at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Simon Reade’s recent adaptations include Pride and Prejudice, which returns to Bath in a new production by Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in January 2017; Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children for the RSC, which played Bath in 2003 direct from London’s Barbican and residencies in Michigan and New York; and Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, which has played London and toured extensively.
A Room With A View is directed by Adrian Noble, who last year directed the West End production of The Importance of Being Earnest starring David Suchet, which toured to Bath in June 2015. The recipient of more than twenty Olivier Award nominations, Noble was the Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1990-2003, where he directed numerous productions including The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Stratford, Barbican), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Stratford, Barbican and Broadway), The Seagull (Stratford, Barbican) and The Secret Garden (Stratford, London). His extensive directing credits also include The Tempest, Amadeus, Inherit The Wind and As You Like It as Artistic Director of San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre; Pericles for the RSC and in the West End; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium starring Michael Ball; and Brand starring Ralph Fiennes in the West End. In 2014, he directed the Theatre Royal Bath’s acclaimed Summer Season staging of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? starring Clare Higgins and Tim Pigott-Smith.
Edward Morgan Forster, best known by his pen name E.M. Forster, had five novels published in his lifetime: Where Angels Fear To Tread in 1905, The Longest Journey in 1907, A Room With A View in 1908, Howard’s End in 1910 and A Passage To India in 1924. His sixth novel, Maurice, published posthumously in 1971, shortly after his death a year earlier, had been written more than fifty-five years earlier. He also wrote numerous short stories. Forster’s work was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in thirteen different years. From 1959 onwards, he was President of the Cambridge Humanists and also a member of the Advisory Council of the British Humanist Association from 1963 until his death. As well as A Room With A View, the many major film adaptations of his novels also include Merchant Ivory’s Maurice in 1987 and Howard’s End in 1992, and David Lean’s 1984 film A Passage To India.
A Room With A View appears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday 28th September to Saturday 8th October. Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 and online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk