Maria Aitken

Directed by

As a director, her work includes:

The 39 Steps (West End, Australia, Broadway, US national tour). In the US, the show was nominated for six Tony Awards, including her nomination as Best Director, and in Australia, the show won the Helpmann Award for Best Touring Production. Other shows include Sherlock’s Last Case (Watermill Theatre, Newbury); The Gift (Geffen Theatre, Los Angeles and Melboune Theatre Company, Australia); Educating Rita, Private Lives, Betrayal, The Cocktail Hour (The Huntington Theatre, Boston); Man and Boy (Broadway); Educating Rita (Boston); As You Like It (Shakespeare Theatre, Washington DC); Quartermaine’s Terms (Williamstown Festival); Japes (Bay Street Theatre, USA); Man and Boy (Tour and Duchess Theatre); Easy Virtue (Chichester); Vita and Virginia (Sphinx Theatre Company); Lady Bracknell’s Confinement (Vineyard Theatre, New York); The School for Scandal (Theatr Clwyd); As You Like It (Regent’s Park); The Mystery of Irma (Leicester Haymarket and Ambassadors); Are You Sitting Comfortably? (Watford Palace); The Rivals (Court Theatre, Chicago); After the Ball Was Over (Old Vic); Private Lives (Oxford Playhouse) and Happy Family (Duke of York’s).

Recently, she has directed several plays and classic serials for BBC Radio, including: Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark (which won the prestigious Gold Sony Prize); Terre Haute, starring Ian McKellen, and her own adaptation of Ivy Compton-Burnett’s novel Mother and Son.

Maria Aitken’s work as an actress includes:

Blithe Spirit, Bedroom Farce and Larkin Land at the National Theatre. At the Royal Shakespeare Company she has played in Travesties, Waste and The Happiest Days of Your Life.

Among her many leading roles in the West End:

Humble Boy, Design for Living (Gielgud); Sylvia (Apollo); Hay Fever (Albery); Other People’s Money (Lyric); The Vortex (Garrick); The Women (Old Vic); Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You (Ambassadors); Private Lives (Duchess) and A Little night Music (Adelphi).

Maria’s many television appearances include:

Love on a Branch Line, The Good Guys, Quiet as a Nun, Poor Little Rich Girls, Shelley, Ripping Yarns and Bedroom Farce. She wrote and presented the


Great River Journeys (An Amazon Adventure), and had two series of her own BBC chat show, Private Lives. She co-produced and appeared in the BBC series of Masterclasses Acting.

Films include:

Asylum, Jinnah, Fierce Creatures, The Grotesque, The Fool, A Fish Called Wanda, Melba, and Mary Queen of Scots.

She is a visiting teacher at the British American Drama Academy, the National Theatre Studio, the London Actors Centre, the Juilliard School in NY, the Yale School of Drama, the graduate acting programme at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, the NY Actors Center and the Academy of Classical Acting in Washington DC.

She is the author of two books: A Girdle Round the Earth and Style: Acting in High Comedy.

She lives in New York and London with her husband, the novelist Patrick McGrath. Her son is the actor Jack Davenport.