Drawing: Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles in The Lehman Trilogy

Autographed drawing of Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles in The Lehman Trilogy at the Piccadilly Theatre on London's West End

Sam Mendes has always directed exceptional stage productions. His latest, THE LEHMAN TRILOGY is no exception. Italian dramatist Stefano Massini’s three act/three-actor play is an astonishing piece of storytelling about three German-Jewish immigrants who would come to define America. It charts three generations of the Lehman family, who establish one of the world’s biggest financial corporations in 1844 through to it’s spectacular collapse and bankruptcy in 2008, triggering the largest financial crisis in history. Adapted by the National Theatre’s deputy artistic director Ben Power, THE LEHMAN TRILOGY completed a sell-out season on the Lyttelton stage last July, followed by a limited run at the New York’s Park Avenue Armoury earlier this year, before returning to London’s West End and the Piccadilly Theatre until August.

Three remarkable actors -the ‘black-clad trio-not only play the three founding brothers, but Simon Russell Beale as Henry, Ben Miles as Emanuel and Adam Godley as Mayer also portray their children and grandchildren and various minor characters spanning 164 years. All three were nominated for this years Best Actor Olivier Award, as was Sam for his direction.

Andrzej Lukowski’s TimeOut review said that their ‘virtuosic performances’ turn “a play that might have come across as a rather a dry history lesson into a mostly electrifying one.”

Simon, Adam and Ben kindly signed my rehearsal drawing of them during the first week of their Piccadilly run.

Drawing: Ben Miles, Nathaniel Parker, Lydia Leonard and Paul Jesson in Wolf Hall / Bring Up The Bodies

Wolf Hall Bring Up The Bodies

After selling out its RSC premiere at Stratford, acclaimed productions of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies made their London transfer to the Aldwych Theatre in May. Both plays are running in repertory until September.

The double bill, adapted by dramatist Mike Poulton and directed by Jeremy Herrin, tell the compelling story of the political rise to power of Thomas Cromwell, in the court of Henry VIII. He was Britain’s original working class hero, according to the author.

The adaptions compress 1,246 pages of print into five and a half hours of stage time with the complex interactions of 70 characters, seven of whom are annoyingly called Thomas.

Hilary won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, and repeated the success with Bring Up The Bodies in 2012. They are the first two parts of Hilary’s projected trilogy of Henry’s fixer – the third, The Mirror and the Light is currently being written “at haste”, as you read this.

Ben Miles plays Cromwell, Lydia Leonard is Anne Boleyn, Nathaniel Parker as Henry VIII and Paul Jesson as Cardinal Wolsey.

Mark Lawson in The Guardian says: “English ecclesiastical reform was driven by the King’s soul as well as his penis… Henry’s succession needs gave an opening to Protestant plotters in his court.”