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Knightley Joins Lewis In THE MISANTHROPE At The Comedy Theatre, Opening December 17

Damian Lewis leads an outstanding ensemble with TAra Fitzgerald, Keira Knightley, Dominic Rowan and Tim McMullan in Martin Crimp's blistering version of Molière's greatest comedy, The Misanthrope. Directed by Thea Sharrock, the play opens at theComedy Theatre on 17 December 2009 with previews from 7 December 2009.


Transported from 17th century Paris to modern-day London, Alceste (Damian Lewis) is a famous British playwright disillusioned and angry with the hypocrisy, shallowness and vanity of the contemporary world. Vowing to reject society, Alceste's plans are derailed when he falls madly in love with Jennifer (Keira Knightley). An ambitious American film star and darling of the social scene, she may prove to be his biggest challenge yet.

Damian Lewis made his name in Steven Spielberg's award-winning mini series Band Of Brothers.  He has since carved out a prolific career in film, television and theatre most recently appearing on stage in Pillars of the Community (National Theatre) and Five Gold Rings (Almeida) and on screen in the hugely popular NBC series Life.  His film credits include Dreamcatcher, An Unfinished Life, The Escapist, Chromophobia and Stormbreaker and his television work includes the remake of The Forsythe Saga and Confessions of a Diary Secretary.

TAra Fitzgerald's credits span television, film and theatre.  Currently best known to television audiences for her role as Dr Eve Lockhart in the BBC's hugely popular drama series Waking The Dead, she has also starred in Jane Eyre, The Virgin Queen, Miss Marple - Body In The Library, Rose and Maloney and the soon to be screened U Be Dead.  Her film credits include Five Children And It, I Capture The Castle, The Lion's Mouth, Dark Blue World, Rancid Aluminum and Brassed Off.  On stage she has appeared in A Doll's House(Donmar), And Then There Were None (Gielgud), A Doll's House (national tour), A Streetcar Named Desire (Bristol Old Vic) and Hamlet(Almeida).

Keira Knightley has established herself as one of the most talented and versatile screen actresses of her generation.  Having first come to the audience's attention in the surprise film hit Bend It Like Beckham she has gone on to star in Joe Wright's award-winning filmAtonement with James McAvoy, The Duchess, The Edge Of Love with Sienna Miller, Domino, The Jacket, Pride And Prejudice and as the feisty Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  She has recently completed filming on the movies Never Let Me Goand the highly anticipated London Boulevard both due for release later this year. Her television credits include the critically acclaimed remake of Doctor Zhivago, Oliver and Coming Home.

Dominic Rowan has worked extensively in theatre including A Voyage Around My Father (Donmar/West End), Happy Now? (National),As You Like It (Globe), A Spanish Tragedy (Arcola), Way To Heaven (Royal Court) and Iphegina At Aulis (National).  His television credits include Catwalk Dogs with Kris Marshall, Baby Boom, Lynda La Plante's Trial & Retribution, The Family Man with Trevor Eve and Hearts And Bones.

Thea Sharrock directed the critically acclaimed Equus starring Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths at the Gielgud Theatre and then on Broadway. Other west end credits include Heroes at the Wyndhams Theatre, A Voyage Round My Father (Donmar/ Wyndham's Theatre), Blithe Spirit (Savoy) and Top Girls (Aldwych), which was the first show she directed. She was Artistic Director of Southwark Playhouse 2001-2003 where she directed A Doll's House, Mongoose, Trip's Cinch and The Sleepers' Den; and Artistic Director of the Gate 2004-2007: The Chairs, The Emperor Jones and Tejas Verdes. For The National Theatre: Happy Now?; The Emperor Jones andFree. Earlier this year she directed As You Like It, her first Shakespeare production, which has broken box office records at the Globe. She is currently in rehearsal at the Almeida - where she previously directed Cloud Nine - with the first London revival of Nicholas Wright's Mrs Klein.  Other work includes several shows for The Peter Hall Season, Bath Theatre Royal.

Martin Crimp was born in 1956 and began writing for theatre in the 1980's. His plays include The City (2008), Fewer Emergencies(2005), Cruel and Tender (2004), Face to the Wall (2002), The Country (2000), Attempts On Her Life (1997), The Treatment (1993),Getting Attention (1992), No One Sees the Video (1991), Play with Repeats (1989), Dealing with Clair (1988), and Definitely the Bahamas (1987). He has close relationships with The Royal Court Theatre, where he was writer-in-residence in 1997, The Young Vic, and The National Theatre, which in 2007 produced the UK's first major revival of Attempts on her Life. His work is widely translated and has been seen on numerous European stages including the Bouffes du Nord and Théâtre de la Colline in Paris, the Vienna Festwochen and Berlin's Schaubühne. The Treatment (winner of the John Whiting award) was produced by New York's Public Theater in the same year as the Royal Court premiere, and in 1998 his translation of Ionesco's The Chairs won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play. He has also translated works by Koltès, Genet, Marivaux, Molière and Chekhov.

The Misanthrope will be designed by Hildegard Bechtler (Arcadia, Hedda Gabler and The Seagull at the Royal Court and on Broadway).

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