Ian McKellen to play Falstaff in 'Player Kings' in the West End in 2024

Robert Icke directs and adapts Player Kings from Shakespeare's Henry IV, and the show begins performances at the Noel Coward Theatre on 1 April 2024.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

Ian McKellen is returning to Shakespeare with a new stage adaptation of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2. Robert Icke will adapt and direct McKellen as John Falstaff in the production, Player Kings, which comes to the West End in spring 2024.

The show combines these two great Shakespeare history plays, which together depict a turbulent time in a divided England. Prince Hal must learn how to be king – but does that mean leaving his friends, like the hard-partying Falstaff, behind?

The production will have previews at the New Wimbledon Theatre on 1-9 March and Manchester Opera House on 14-23 March, before playing a 12-week run at the Noël Coward Theatre in the West End from 1 April-22 June 2024.

Ian McKellen commented: “I decided to become a professional actor at Cambridge in 1959, when I was in John Barton’s undergraduate production of Henry IV. Derek Jacobi played Prince Hal and I was the ancient Justice Shallow. Ever since, the plays have been among my favourite Shakespeares, although through the years I’ve resisted offers to play John Falstaff. Robert Icke’s ingenious adaptation was irresistible.”

Robert Icke said: “It’s a genuine honour to work with one of our greatest Shakespearean actors, Ian McKellen, especially as he tackles one of the most iconic Shakespearean roles – and one he's previously never turned his hand to. It’s an exciting challenge to bring together two of Shakespeare’s plays into one production, and I’m so excited to share Player Kings with audiences in the West End and across the country.”

The creative team for Player Kings features set design by Hildegard Bechtler, lighting design by Lee Curran, sound design by Gareth Fry, casting by Julia Horan, and fight direction by Kev McCurdy.

Check back for more information on tickets to Player Kings on London Theatre.

Originally published on

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