Matthew Kelly to star in Alan Bennett play

The Original Theatre Company and York Theatre Royal will present the first revival of Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art.

The production opens on August 30 at York Theatre Royal, and will star Matthew Kelly as W. H. Auden/Fitz and David Yelland as Benjamin Britten/Henry.

After York, the show moves to Brighton, Salisbury, Guildford, Ipswich, Richmond, Coventry, Salford and Southend. Further tour dates are to be announced.

The Habit of Art is written as a play within a play, and tells the story of a fictional meeting between poet W. H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten.

Actors Fitz, Henry, Tim and Donald are rehearsing a play called Caliban’s Day, in which the fictitious meeting occurs in Auden’s rooms at Oxford not long before he dies.

Britten has been auditioning boys nearby for his opera Death in Venice, and arrives unexpectedly – their first meeting in 25 years after falling out over the failure of their opera Paul Bunyan.

The Habit of Art premiered at the National Theatre in November 2009, and the National toured with the production in 2010.

Kelly’s West End credits include Waiting For Godot, Sign of the Times and the musical Lend Me A Tenor!. His television work includes Cold Blood, Benidorm and Bleak House, and he is best known for presenting You Bet! and Stars in their Eyes.

Yelland’s most recent theatre credits include Witness for the Prosecution, A Winter’s Tale and Taken at Midnight. TV credits include David Copperfield, Rumpole of the Bailey, Poirot, EastEnders, The Crown and Endeavour.