RSC’s Wolf Hall transfers to London

Published March 5, 2014

The stage adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor dramas Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies will run at London’s Aldwych Theatre this summer.

The acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company productions, which chart Thomas Cromwell’s rise from blacksmith’s boy to Henry VIII’s right hand man, have been playing to acclaim at the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon home since December. They will play a limited London season from 1 May to 6 September.

Ben Miles, who leads the cast as Cromwell in the Stratford productions that will continue to run until the end of this month, will transfer to London with the shows. Nathaniel Parker (Henry VIII), Lydia Leonard (Anne Boleyn), Paul Jesson (Cardinal Wolsey) and Lucy Briers (Katherine of Aragon) will also make the journey south.

Mantel, who won the Man Booker Prize for both Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring Up The Bodies, commented: “I am, I think, currently the luckiest author in the world… To walk into a theatre where every seat is taken is a special experience. Now we have the chance to bring the plays to a wider audience. We are thrilled that our London base is to be the Aldwych, once the home of the RSC, a theatre that will provide a showcase for this unique project.”

The transfer announcement is the latest news to underline the popularity of Mantel’s historical novels. In addition to their award wins, the books have sold more than 1.8 million copies in the UK and 1.2 million copies in the US. While the RSC have adapted them for the stage, the BBC is currently working on a screen adaptation, set to premiere in 2015, that will star London theatre royalty Mark Rylance as Cromwell.

Speaking about the transfer, director Jeremy Herrin said: “The Aldwych is a theatre that I’ve always wanted to work in so it’s a privilege to be able to do so with such exhilarating material. I can’t wait to show London how thrilling and current the story of Thomas Cromwell is.”

Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies will move into a theatre vacated by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest musical. Stephen Ward, which explores the Profumo affair from the point of view of the eponymous osteopath and scapegoat, closes at the venue on 29 March.