Kathleen Turner to return to West End stage

Kathleen Turner Turner won an Evening Standard award for her performance in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 2006

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Kathleen Turner is returning to the West End in a new play opposite Ian McDiarmid, set to open in the Spring.

Inspired by true events, Bakersfield Mist - by Stephen Sachs, asks vital questions about what makes art and people truly authentic.

It marks Turner's return to the West End following acclaimed performances in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 2006, and The Graduate.

It will open at London's Duchess Theatre on 27 May.

"When we were lucky enough to hear Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid read the play for us, the chemistry between these two great stage actors was thrilling," said producer Nica Burns.

"This is a fantastic role for her return to the London stage."

Turner has earned two Tony nominations for her stage performances in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway and, in 2005, for the role of Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Fourteen years ago in the Graduate, an adaptation of the Mike Nichols' 1967 film, the 45-year-old actress briefly bared all as the seductive Mrs Robinson in a hit production which later transferred to Broadway.

In Bakersfield Mist, she will play Maude - an out-of-work bartender who becomes convinced a piece of art she picked up in a thrift shop is actually a work by Jackson Pollock.

Ian McDiarmid, in 37 Days McDiarmid (r) will shortly play the foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey in BBC war drama 37 Days

McDiarmid, best known for playing the Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars, plays New York art expert, Lionel Percy, who visits Maude in her trailer park home to authenticate the painting.

"I liked the idea and comic potential of two passionately opinionated cultural opposites engaged in a life-changing battle for the soul of a great painter," said McDiarmid.

Turner described the play, directed by Polly Teale, as "pure joy" hailing "the shock and humour of diametrically opposed cultures with the transformative power of art".

The Oscar-nominated actress, who turns 60 this year, rose to fame in the 1980s in hit films such as Romancing the Stone, Prizzi's Honour and The War of the Roses.

She won a new generation of the fans with her turn as Chandler's transvestite father in the long-running TV sitcom Friends, and more recently in a recurring role in Californication.

Turner is currently appearing in the title role in Mother Courage at Arena Stage in Washington DC, which runs until 9 March.

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