The Crown’s Peter Morgan to premiere play about Russian oligarchs
The Crown’s Peter Morgan to ...
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The Crown’s Peter Morgan to premiere play about Russian oligarchs

7 May 2022
2 min.
The Crown’s Peter Morgan to premiere play about Russian oligarchs

Peter Morgan, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter and creator of Netflix’s The Crown, is to explore the world of Russian oligarchs in a new play at the Almeida theatre in London.

Patriots will star Tom Hollander as the businessman Boris Berezovsky, who was found dead, apparently hanged, at his Berkshire home in 2013. The play, set in Russia and the UK, features Vladimir Putin, whom the “kingmaker” Berezovsky helped into the Kremlin before the pair became foes. Berezovsky, who once owned Russia’s most powerful television station, fled to Britain, where he remained a prominent critic of Putin.

The play’s story also involves Marina Litvinenko, widow of Berezovsky’s friend Alexander Litvinenko, the former spy who was murdered by radiation poisoning in London in 2006. There is a role, too, for Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea FC owner who is among the oligarchs to have had assets frozen in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Abramovich and Berezovsky were friends who ended up in London’s high court in 2012 for one of the biggest ever private litigation battles; Berezovsky claimed his ex-oil firm partner cheated him out of $5bn, but lost the case and was called an unreliable witness.

Patriots is Morgan’s first play since The Audience (2013), which starred Helen Mirren as the Queen and inspired the writer’s blockbuster Netflix series The Crown, whose new series is set to be released later this year. Rupert Goold, the Almeida’s artistic director, will direct Patriots, which opens in July and is billed as “an unflinching story of ambition and the dangers of loyalty and love” at the dawning of a new Russia where “today’s patriot can fast become tomorrow’s traitor”. Will Keen has been cast as Putin, Yolanda Kettle will play Marina Litvinenko and Luke Thallon plays Abramovich. Further casting is to be announced.

In an interview with Deadline, Goold said that the play will explore “the complicity and blindness of the west.” The production had been planned before the invasion of Ukraine in February, but then “took on a whole different filter” Goold added.

Patriots was announced on Friday alongside another world premiere at the Almeida, The Clinic by Dipo Baruwa-Etti, whom Goold called “one of the country’s most exciting emerging talents”. Directed by Monique Touko, it is described as a political portrait of a woman “with a hunger for change”, and explores “how to rise from the ashes of a broken world”. The Clinic will open in September.


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