Having long since made the leap to becoming Hollywood royalty, you’d think Dame Judi Dench might not have time to return to her theatrical roots these days. Not a bit of it, however: in fact, the James Bond star and all-round living legend is gearing up to make yet another stage appearance later this year, albeit one with something of a twist.
The Vote is a groundbreaking new play written for both stage and screen. Produced by the London theater the Donmar Warehouse, it will be performed for two weeks between April 24 and May 7, before a very special one-night-only performance on May 7 that will be simulcast live on British television. And the reason? Well, that night just happens to be the night of the next U.K. General Election — and polling stations across the country will be in their final 90 minutes of voting at exactly the same time as the play is being performed.
The play will dramatize those 90 minutes in a fictional polling station, and the assorted voters and volunteers will be played by an all-star cast that alongside Dame Judi also includes Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), Catherine Tate (Doctor Who), Timothy West (Iris) and Bill Patterson (Doctor Who again). Dame Judi’s own daughter Finty Williams, an actress herself, will also be appearing.
It’s not the first time in recent years a London stage production has made it on to television screens — in 2009, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet, starring David Tennant and Sir Patrick Stewart, was shown on the BBC and PBS — but this live simulcast is certainly brave new territory. “Everyone involved is approaching this experiment with a sense of adventure,” said the Donmar’s artistic director Josie Rourke.
Appropriately enough for a play about the election, tickets for the production will be made available via a ballot later this month. The simulcast version will be shown between 8.30pm and 10.00pm on May 7, on U.K. channel More4. There’s no word yet on it being picked up for a later U.S. transmission, but we’ll let you know if we hear of one.
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