News: Matt Berry, Simon Bird, Tom Rosenthal To Star In West End Play

Matt Berry, Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal are among the stars of a new production of Christopher Hampton’s celebrated play The Philanthropist to be directed by Simon Callow at the Trafalgar Studios. Also appearing are Fresh Meat's Charlotte Ritchie and Lily Cole. The play will run from April 3 to July 22.

The inversion of Moliere’s The Misanthrope has been delighting audiences since its premiere at the Royal Court in 1970. Set in a fictitious English University town, strongly evoking Oxford or Cambridge, the play follows 24 hours in the lives of a group of young academics. The action unfolds in the rooms of Philip (Simon Bird), the university’s cosseted and floundering professor of philology, for whom solace and certitude exist in complex wordplay. Out in the ‘real world’ the Prime Minister and his cabinet have been assassinated and England's most treasured writers are being murdered one by one!  Back in the cosy bubble of university life, the bachelor don anguishes over sex, marriage, anagrams and the meaning of life. Did someone suggest academics were ‘out of touch’?

When Philip hosts a dinner party, joined by his stylish and perceptive fiancée Celia (Charlotte Ritchie), his worldlier best friend Donald (Tom Rosenthal), the seductive Araminta (Lily Cole), and the wealthy and egomaniacal novelist Braham (Matt Berry), the evening sets off a chain of events which puncture the rarefied and cerebral world they inhabit.  The morning after, the group is left to wade through the emotional detritus and navigate the consequences of their actions. 

Acclaimed director Simon Callow says: “When Christopher Hampton’s The Philanthropist first burst onto the world, he was 23; the play was really about his contemporaries, but neither then, nor ever since, has it been cast at the right age. I’m very excited, not only to be doing the play, which I think one of the funniest, sharpest plays in the English language, but to be doing it with a group of brilliantly witty and original young actors who will reveal the play as it’s never been seen before”.

BAFTA award winning writer, actor and musician Matt Berry is best known for his roles in comedy hits The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh (BBC3), and as star and writer of sitcom Toast of London (Channel 4). Berry most recently appeared in the feature length drama The Last Dragonslayer (SKY 1). 

Simon Bird is best known for his star-making turn in the hugely successful, BAFTA winning The Inbetweeners (E4) which ran for three series, and its two globally successful movies (The Inbetweeners Movie still holds the record for highest grossing UK opening weekend for any comedy film), as well as Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4), which to date has run for four series.

Tom Rosenthal has established himself as one of the UK’s foremost stand-up and screen comedians, known for his roles in hit comedies Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4), alongside his The Philanthropist co-star Simon Bird, and the British Comedy Award winning series Plebs (ITV2). He also featured in the second series of the award-winning crime drama Broadchurch (ITV).  Rosenthal performed in the critically acclaimed Chicken Soup with Barley at The Royal Court, directed by Dominic Cooke.

Charlotte Ritchie is best known as Nurse Barbara Gilbert in Call the Midwife (BBC1). Ritchie has also showcased her comedic skills in hit comedies Fresh Meat (Channel 4) and Siblings (BBC3). Her theatre credits include One Night in November and the recent production of Private Lives.

Tickets here. www.atgtickets.com/the-philanthropist/0844 871 7632

Picture by Shaun Webb.

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