Steve Coogan is to star in Armando Iannucci’s stage adaptation of the satirical war film Dr Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
The play, set to open in London next autumn, reunites the pair who worked together more than 30 years ago on the BBC radio comedy On the Hour, in which Coogan played Alan Partridge, and on subsequent Partridge projects.
Iannucci said that Dr Strangelove, directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1964, remains “a tale of our time” and “needs one of the most amazing talents of our time to tell it: I’ve seen Steve Coogan close-up for many years now, and can tell you that no one gets right under the skin of a character the way he does.”
Kubrick’s Oscar-nominated classic, released in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis, is a black comedy about a nuclear crisis caused by a rogue US general targeting the Soviet Union. Peter Sellers played three characters in the film: an RAF officer, a US president named Merkin Muffley and Strangelove himself, an ex-Nazi scientist. Iannucci said that Coogan, too, would be playing “hugely contrasting roles” in the play. “I for one can’t wait to see Steve make them his own. It’s going to be a thrill for all of us.” The play’s specific characters and casting are yet to be announced.
Coogan said that the notion of putting Dr Strangelove on stage was daunting and a huge responsibility, adding: “It’s also an exciting challenge, an opportunity to bring this timeless classic to a new audience.”
The play will be directed by Sean Foley who praised Coogan’s gift for making audiences “belly laugh even while they wince – sensing the maladroit, the madness, and the menace in his extraordinary characters … I can think of no better actor to convey the nightmare comedy of Strangelove.”
Dr Strangelove opens on 8 October 2024 at the Noël Coward theatre in London.
This winter, Iannucci’s political black comedy Pandemonium, described as “a scornful account of the activities of Mr Boris Johnson and ‘Others’ during the pandemic and its aftermath”, will run at Soho theatre in London. It reunites Iannucci with another of his early comedy collaborators, the director Patrick Marber.