Tuesday 28 January 2020

National Theatre play to feature 'well loved' actors in 70s and 80s improvising

The National Theatre on the South Bank of the Thames
The National Theatre on the South Bank of the Thames

The National Theatre is bucking the trend to chase younger audiences with a new play starring actors in their 70s and 80s who are let loose on stage without a script.

Lost Without Words, a "theatrical experiment", will open at the National in March 2017.

The play is designed to see what happens when elderly actors, who are used to delivering scripts but are "appearing in our theatres less and less", go on stage without a script to see "what scenes they create" and "what stories unfold".

The cast has not yet been finalised but the theatre's artistic director Rufus Norris said that it would feature "well loved" and "respected" names.

He said the play would consist of "structured improvisation", adding: "Some of the stuff I have seen so far has been moving and hilarious."

The script is likely to change from night to night but the "one thing we know for sure is that those people are going to know how to 'enter through the French Windows'," he joked.

Norris added that he hoped the audience would be "a real mix of young people who are interested in improvised theatre and also people who know and love these actors."

The average audience at the National Theatre has only dropped from 55 to 51, "despite obsessing all the time" about bringing the age down.

"It would be great to have a show where it goes in the opposite direction. It would be brilliant to have a show where the average age is 85," he said.

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