1944. America. Celebrated actor, singer and political campaigner Paul Robeson – forever associated with ‘Ol’ Man River’ – is touring the country as the eponymous hero in Shakespeare’s Othello. His Desdemona is the brilliant young actress Uta Hagen. Her husband, the Broadway star José Ferrer, plays Iago.
All the actors are friends. But in mid-century American society, they are not all equals.
As the tour goes on, the boundaries between the onstage passions and their offstage lives begin to blur. Soon the chemistry between Robeson and Hagen and the rivalry between Robeson and Ferrer is every bit as dangerous as that between their famous characters. Revenge takes many forms and in post-war America it isn’t always purely personal – it can be disturbingly political too.
Nicholas Wright’s new play is based on true events involving some of the twentieth century’s most influential American artists. His original plays include Rattigan’s Nijinsky (Festival 2011) and, for the National Theatre, Mrs Klein, Vincent in Brixton (Olivier Award for Best New Play) and The Reporter, both directed by Richard Eyre.
Director Richard Eyre makes a welcome return to Chichester, following The Stepmother (2017). A former Director of the National Theatre, his recent films include King Lear and The Children Act.