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Jane Asher, Clive Francis and Nicholas Le Prevost star in Somerset Maugham’s classic comedy of manners, The Circle, at Oxford Playhouse

The Playhouse prepares to welcome a stellar cast featuring Jane Asher, Clive Francis and Nicholas Le Prevost in Somerset Maugham’s sparky comedy of manners The Circle.

First staged at Theatre Royal Haymarket in 1921, The Circle has remained a firm favourite with audiences ever since. A comedy of manners set against the backdrop of the English countryside, expect squabbling across generations and plenty of romance… In this production, will history come full circle? Or can one generation learn from their parents’ mistakes?

Jane Asher plays Lady Kitty, a society beauty who notoriously abandoned her stuffy husband Clive, played by Clive Francis, and eloped with the handsome Lord Porteous, portrayed by Nicholas Le Prevost.

Thirty years later, love’s young dream has descended into non-stop squabbling... Meanwhile Clive and Lady Kitty’s son Arnold faces the same marital fate, as his wife Elizabeth threatens to elope with the dashing Teddie Luton.

JaneAsher is well known for appearing in Roger Corman’s 1964 film The Masque of the Red Death,Alfie opposite Michael Caine in 1966 and Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End in 1970. She has also appeared in The Mistress with Felicity Kendal and portrayed the series regular Lady Byrne in Holby City, after starring in Frank Oz’s film Death at a Funeral that same year.

Asher also has extensive stage credits, including Things We Do For Love;An American in Paris; Michael Eaton’s adaptation of Great Expectations as Miss Havisham; Pride and Prejudice as Lady Catherine de Bourgh at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre; Charley’s Aunt; The Importance of Being Earnest and Blithe Spirit. She has also starred in Theatre Royal Bath’s productions of A Song at Twilight and Moon Tiger. She has also regularly performed at the National Theatre, starring in To Those Born Later, The School for Scandal and House/Garden.

Clive Francis is widely known for his performance in the Netflix series The Crown as Lord Salisbury. His TV and film credits include Lipstick on Your Collar, Anatomy of a Scandal, Bridgerton,The Larkins, Official Secrets, The Little Stranger and The Lost City of Z.

On stage, he has appeared in several seasons for Chichester, the National and the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as in numerous plays on the West End. Credits include Slaves of Solitude, Inspector Calls, Entertaining Mr Sloane, the National Theatre’s productions of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Never So Good and Les Blancs, RSC productions of The Madness of George III; Troilus & Cressida and A Christmas Carol.

Nominated for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for his performance in the West End production of My Fair Lady, Nicholas Le Prevost has appeared across TV, stage, and film for almost five decades. He starred in the acclaimed film Shakespeare in Love, as well as Testament of Youth and Here Comes Hell. TV credits include Up the Garden Path, The Larkins, The War of the Worlds, Cranford and Wild at Heart.

For theatre, his credits include Much Ado About Nothing with the RSC, opposite Harriet Walter, as well as many productions for the National Theatre like Anthony and Cleopatra, Man and Superman, People, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Magistrate. Other credits include The Maid’s Tragedy, Festival of Firsts, The Winter’s Tale, What Shadows, Uncle Vanya and Hedda Gabler.

Among the most successful novelists and playwrights of the inter-war years, Somerset Maugham saw huge acclaim, with many of his novels being adapted for the screen. Among these are The Painted Veil, Theatre, Up At The Villa, The Razor’s Edge and Of Human Bondage.

Making up the strong ensemble cast is Pete Ashmore (Netflix’s The Crown and Disney+’s Suspect), Olivia Vinall (Women Beware Women, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and As You Like It, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) and Chirag Benedict Lobo (Life of Pi, West End and Headlong’s A View from the Bridge).

Presented by Theatre Royal Bath, this revival of Maugham’s classic play is Tom Littler’s debut production as artistic director of Orange Tree Theatre.

Assistant directing the production is Sam Woof who has previously worked for Oxford Playhouse. In 2020, they directed and choreographed the University of Oxford Student Company: Theatre Goya’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along. They also wrote and performed in Actually, Love which toured to The North Wall over the summer of 2023.

The creative team is also composed of Designer Louie Whitemore, Lighting Designer Chris McDonnell and Sound Designer Max Pappenheim.