Entertainment & Arts

Tom Stoppard's new 'brainscience' play gets date at National Theatre

Tom Stoppard Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Hard Problem is Tom Stoppard's first play for the stage since Rock'n'Roll at the Royal Court Theatre in 2006

Tom Stoppard's new play for the National Theatre, entitled The Hard Problem, will premiere at the new Dorfman Theatre on 28 January.

The play is the last to be directed by the National's outgoing artistic director, Sir Nicholas Hytner.

The story centres around a young psychology researcher at odds with her colleagues at a brainscience institute.

It is Stoppard's first stage play at the NT since his trilogy, The Coast of Utopia, in 2002.

The role of researcher Hilary will be played by Olivia Vinall, seen recently playing Cordelia in King Lear and Desdemona in Othello at the NT.

The official description of the play says: "If there is nothing but matter, what is consciousness? This is 'the hard problem' which puts Hilary at odds with her colleagues who include her first mentor Spike, her boss Leo and the billionaire founder of the institute, Jerry.

"Is the day coming when the computer and the fMRI scanner will answer all the questions psychology can ask?"

The Hard Problem will be followed at the Dorfman (formerly the Cottesloe) by Rules for Living, a new play by Sam Holcroft, directed by Marianne Elliott.

Other casting news announced by the National Theatre on Monday includes Arthur Darvill as Long John Silver in Polly Findlay's production of Robert Louis Stevenson's story opening in the Olivier on 10 December.

It is the first return to the London stage for the Broadchurch and Doctor Who actor since his performance in the musical Once in the West End and on Broadway.

As previously announced, Ralph Fiennes will play Jack Tanner with Indira Varma (as Ann) in Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman in the Lyttelton Theatre in February. Fiennes was last seen at the NT as Oedipus in 2008.

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