The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has announced it will return to the Novello later this year to play a winter season, transferring productions of Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Taming Of The Shrew.
The RSC has staged seven productions, including The Tempest, Anthony And Cleopatra and Much Ado About Nothing at the Delfont Mackintosh-owned theatre since 2005.
The RSC’s autumn/winter season will also include two new plays, The Tragedy Of Thomas Hobbes and The Cordelia Dream, staged at Wilton’s Music Hall.
All three Shakespearean productions are part of the famous company’s Stratford summer repertoire, with Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream sharing an ensemble cast including Mariah Gale (Ophelia/First Fairy/Peaseblossom) and Mark Hadfield (Gravedigger/Puck).
Headlining the Gregory Doran-directed production of Hamlet (3 December-10 January) is current Dr Who, David Tennant, who returns to the RSC after an eight year absence. He last performed with the company in 2000 when he played Romeo in Romeo And Juliet, and Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy Of Errors. Joining Tennant is RSC regular and 2008 Laurence Olivier Award nominee Patrick Stewart, who plays Claudius, Pennie Downie (Gertrude) and Oliver Ford Davies (Polonius).
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s comic tale of warring fairies, is another Doran-directed production, a revival of the RSC Chief Associate Director’s hit of the 2005 Comedies season.
Michelle Gomez, star of off-beat television hospital comedy Green Wing and successful West End farce Boeing Boeing, joins the RSC for the first time to play Kate in The Taming Of The Shrew (12 February-7 March). She is joined by Stephen Boxer, who last performed with the RSC in 1999’s Bartholomew Fair, as Petruchio. The production is directed by Conall Morrison.
Gomez also stars, opposite David Hargreaves, in The Cordelia Dream (11 December-10 January), the second show of the RSC’s season at Wilton’s Music Hall. Written by Marina Carr and inspired by King Lear, it follows two rivals who come together to discuss what has fuelled them to try and outdo each other.
The Cordelia Dream is preceded by Adriano Shaplin’s The Tragedy Of Thomas Hobbes (12 November-6 December), which also stars many of the ensemble from The Taming Of The Shrew. A new history play set in the post-Civil War London of 1658, it portrays a time when theatres were closed, coffee houses hummed with talk of revolution, and England’s most famous philosopher prepared to battle a faction of young scientists.
Speaking about the RSC’s return to London, Executive Director Vikki Haywood said: “The RSC is pleased to continue its agreement with Delfont Mackintosh to use the Novello theatre, alongside other London venues. It’s great to be returning there with three Shakespeare plays direct from The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford, and to be taking new work to the beautiful and evocative space of Wilton’s Music Hall.
“This year we’ve hardly paused for breath as we’ve criss-crossed the capital – from the Hackney Empire in East London (to which we’re returning next year with Othello as part of a national tour), to the Tricycle and at the Roundhouse in North London, and the Soho and New London theatres in the West End – selling out shows all over town and reaching new and more diverse audiences. Between November 2007 and May 2008, over 97,000 people have seen us in the capital.”
Public booking opens on Friday 12 September.