The first West End revival of Michael Frayn’s comedy “DONKEYS’ YEARS”, which opened at the Comedy Theatre to rave reviews on Tuesday 9 May, is doing smash hit business and therefore has extended its booking period yet again, this time by 15 weeks, until 16 December. The production has been largely playing to full houses and, despite the difficult summer that the West End has experienced, the play has been profitable every single week of its run. “DONKEYS’ YEARS” has recouped its capitalisation and discussions are underway for a Broadway production.
There will be major cast changes on 4 September, with Karl Theobald taking over the role of ‘Snell’ and Hamish Clark playing ‘Quine’. Paul Raffield will play ‘Sainsbury’. Samantha Bond will continue in the role of ‘Lady Driver’ until 23 September and Janie Dee will take over the role on 25 September. David Haig will continue to star as ‘Christopher Headingley’, Michael Simkins as ‘David Buckle’, Jonathan Coy as ‘Norman Tate’, Edward Petherbridge as ‘Sydney Birkett’ and Chris Moran as ‘William Taylor’.
Karl Theobald is best-known for his starring role as ‘Dr Martin Dear’ in “Green Wing” on Channel 4, a role he has played to huge acclaim throughout both series. He has recently played ‘Alsop’ in the BBC drama series “The Virgin Queen” and filmed the leading part of ‘Spud’ in George Springer’s new feature film “The Truth”. Hamish Clark has starred as ‘Duncan’ in seven series of the prime-time BBC drama “Monarch of the Glen”. He also starred as the leading character ‘Roger’ in three series of “My Wonderful Life” on television. Paul Raffield has been a regular actor for several seasons at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and his television credits include “The Worst Week of My Life” and “2.4 Children”. Janie Dee won the Evening Standard, Olivier and Critics’ Circle Awards as ‘Best Actress’ for “Comic Potential” and the Olivier Musical Theatre Award as ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for the Royal National Theatre production of “Carousel”. She has starred in West End musicals including “Mack & Mabel”, “Enter the Guardsman”, “Show Boat” and “Cats”, and her West End plays include “Celebration”, “Betrayal” and the Royal National Theatre productions of “Women of Troy”, “Johnny on a Spot” and “The Soldiers”.
Twenty-five years after graduation, six former students return to their university college for a reunion dinner. Whilst their lives may have had varying degrees of success, all are connected by a common past. Once locked in college for the night, the graduates begin to relive their youth, and old friendships, feuds - and the much-desired but absurdly proper Master's wife - come tumbling back chaotically into the present......
“DONKEYS’ YEARS” is directed by Jeremy Sams, with design by Peter McKintosh and lighting by Howard Harrison. Jeremy Sams has just directed “Little Britain Live” and recently directed the National Theatre, West End and Broadway productions of “Noises Off”. This autumn he will direct the West End revival of “The Sound of Music”.
“DONKEYS’ YEARS” originally opened in London at the Globe Theatre (now the Gielgud Theatre) in 1976, winning the Olivier Award for ‘Best Comedy’. Michael Frayn’s other award-winning stage plays include “Noises Off”, “Democracy” and “Copenhagen” (all at the National Theatre, in the West End and on Broadway), as well as “Clouds”, “Alphabetical Order” and “Benefactors”, all of which have enjoyed hugely successful runs in the West End.
“DONKEYS’ YEARS” is produced in the West End by Sonia Friedman Productions, Tulbart Productions, Michael Linnit, Lee Menzies, TEG Productions and Boyett Ostar Productions.