Entertainment & Arts

Sir Lenny Henry to play demagogue at Donmar Warehouse

Lenny Henry Image copyright Jay Brooks
Image caption The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui will mark Sir Lenny's Donmar Warehouse debut

Sir Lenny Henry is to play a demagogue inspired by Adolf Hitler as part of a season of plays at London's Donmar Warehouse on the theme of power.

The comedian turned actor will play the title role in Bertolt Brecht's 1941 play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.

The satire, about a Chicago mobster's rise to power, has been adapted by Clybourne Park author Bruce Norris.

The season will also include a musical based on the 2015 collapse of the Kids Company charity.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Takes Oral Evidence on Whitehall's Relationship with Kids Company will be based on a transcript of a House of Commons Select Committee evidence session that took place in October that year.

Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob, chair of the charity's trustees, are among the characters in a piece the Donmar said had "not been authorised by any participant or Parliament".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Kids Company was founded by Camila Batmanghelidjh in 1996

The Donmar's 2017 spring season will begin with Limehouse, a new piece about the 1981 split in the Labour Party that led to the formation of the SDP.

Debra Gillett will play Baroness Shirley Williams, one of the so-called Gang of Four who founded the Social Democratic Party, in Steve Waters' play, which will run from 2 March to 15 April.

The Donmar described Limehouse as "a fictionalised account of real events" and said it had not been "endorsed by the individuals portrayed".

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, which will mark Sir Lenny's Donmar debut, runs from 21 April to 17 June, while The Public Administration... runs from 24 June to 12 August.

Artistic director Josie Rourke said the season would deal with "truth and accountability; democracy and demagoguery; passion, despair and the rebirth of hope".

"In creating the Power Season, we're trusting that theatre will deploy its power to speak with swift and urgent clarity into the present," the Donmar boss added.

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