Royal Shakespeare Company Jacobean Season at Gielgud Theatre from 5 Dec 02


Royal Shakespeare Company Jacobean Season at Gielgud Theatre from 5 Dec 02

The sell out season from the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon of rarely seen, rediscovered plays from the Jacobean, Elizabethan and Caroline eras written by Shakespeare and his contemporaries will run in repertoire at the Gielgud Theatre from Thursday 5 Dec 02 for an eight week season to Sat 25 Jan 2003. The season will be produced by Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt.

The five plays are....

The Malcontent by John Marston, in repertoire from 5 Dec 02 to 25 Jan 03. Directed by Dominic Cooke, designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, with lighting by Wayne Doweswell.

The cast features Antony Sher (Giovanni Altofronto - Malevole), Sasha Behar (Bianca), Claire Benedict (Maquarelle), Paul Bhattacharjee (Celso), Joe Dixon (Mendoza), Amanda Drew (Aurelia), Geoffrey Freshwater (Bilioso), Colin McCormack (Pietro Iacomo), Michael Matus (Ferrardo).

This tragic-comic satire is relocated to a Latin American Dictatorship in the '70s from Renaissance Genoa. The play was written in 1603 and exists in two editions, one of which gives the authorship to John Webster with augmentations by Marston.

The malcontent of the title, Malevole, played by Antony Sher, is the banished Duke of Genoa who returns in disguise to his former court. With echoes of 'Hamlet 'and 'Measure for Measure', the Duke contrives, under the guise of a mad frame of mind, to speak the bitterest of home truths deriding aristocratic behaviour. Through intrigue and betrayal throughout the court, he eventually manages to regain his position as rightful ruler of Genoa, and his deposer and his cohorts are brought to justice.

****

The Island Princess by John Fletcher, in repertoire from 10 Dec 02 to 25 Jan 03. Directed by Gregory Doran, designed by Niki Turner, with lighting by Wayne Doweswell.

The cast features Sasha Behar (Quisara), Claire Benedict (Quisana), Paul Bhattacharjee (The Governor), Antony Byrne (Piniero), Billy Carter (Soza), Shelley Conn (Panura), Joe Dixon (King of Tidore), Jamie Glover (Armusia), Avin Shah (King of Siana).

Written around 1619, the story is based in part on a Spanish history of the conquest of the Molucca Islands in the East Indies. On the island of Tidore, three men compete for the hand of Princess Quisara, whose brother the King has been imprisoned by his neighbour, the villainous governor of Ternata. She vows to marry the suitor who can free the King, hoping that her lover will win the day. When he fails to do so, Quisara is bound in a moral and heart searching dilemma which is exacerbated when the difference in religion between her and her eventual love choice seems insurmountable. Fletcher's play touches on the brutality of colonialism and the inevitable issues of moral and religious differences.

****

The Roman Actor by Philip Massinger, in repertoire from 13 Dec 02 to 24 Jan 03. Directed by Sean Holmes, designed by Anthony Lamble, with lighting by Wayne Doweswell.

The cast features Antony Sher (Domitianus Caesar), David Acton (Philargus), Antony Byrne (Parthenius), Wayne Cater (Aesopus), Joe Dixon (Paris, the Roman Actor ), Sean Hannaway (Stephanus), Michael Matus (Latinus), Keith Osborn (Lamia), Joshua Richards (Junius Rusticus), Michael Thomas ( Aretinus).

Antony Sher plays Domitian, the tyrannical and insanely jealous Roman Emperor who wreaks havoc and bloody revenge as he discovers his wife's infidelity with Paris, the Roman Actor of the title.

Written in 1604, and regarded as Massinger's finest play, The Roman Actor condemns tyranny and defends the then despised profession of acting.

****

Edward III a 'new' play by William Shakespeare, in repertoire from 17 Dec 02 to 24 Jan 03. Directed by Anthony Clark, designed by Patrick Connellan, with lighting by Wayne Doweswell.

The cast features David Acton (Earl of Salisbury), Paul Bentall (John Copland), Paul Bhattacharjee (Duke of Lorraine), Vincent Brimble (Derby), Antony Byrne (King David), Wayne Cater (Lodowick), Jamie Glover (Edward, Prince of Wales), Sean Hannaway (Artois), Colin McCormack (Lord Audley), Keith Osborn (Mariner), Joshua Richards (Earl of Warwick), David Rintoul (King Edward III), Avin Shah (Prince Philip), Michael Thomas (King John), James Tucker (Prince Charles) , Caroline Faber (Countess of Salisbury), Sian Howard (Queen Phillipa).

This rarely performed play was not attributed to Shakespeare when it was first published around 1595. In fact, the first suggestion of Shakespeare's authorship of the play did not occur until 1760. It was officially recognized as his work in 1998. The play recounts the first campaigns of the Hundred Years War and is seen as a 'prequel' to the other History plays, from Richard II to Richard III. It is a play of moral dilemmas and difficult decisions throughout an unrelenting sequence of battles.

****

Eastward Ho! by Ben Jonson, John Marston and George Chapman, in repertoire from 20 Dec 02 to 24 Jan 03. Directed by Lucy Pitman-wallace, designed by Robert Jones, with lighting by Wayne Doweswell.

The cast features David Acton (Seagull), Paul Bentall (Security), Amanda Drew (Gertrude), Sasha Behar (Sindefy), Claire Benedict (Mistress Touchstone),Vincent Brimble (Scapethrift), Billy Carter (Quicksilver), Wayne Cater (Drawer), Shelley Conn (Mildred), Geoffrey Freshwater (Touchstone), Sean Hannaway (Constable), Sian Howard (Winnifred), Michael Matus (Sir Petronel Flash), Colin McCormack (Bramble), Avin Shah (Slitgut), James Tucker (Golding).

Written in 1605, this comedy of contemporary life depicting the shifty society of the city was co-written by three of the most popular playwrights of the day in friendly rivalry to Dekker and Webster's Westward Ho! produced the year before. It is interesting that Jonson and Marston should have worked together on this play when they are believed to have been bitter enemies.

A passage in the play which was seen as derogatory to the Scots led to the imprisonment of Chapman and Jonson by the Stuart court, with Marston escaping the same fate by flight.

The play is teeming with energy and 'larger than life' characters. It sees Touchstone, a London goldsmith, preparing to marry off his two daughters. Golding and Quicksilver, Touchstone's apprentices, lead the wooing until the rakish fop and adventurer, Sir Petronel Flash arrives on the scene. It is a comedy of virtue and true love triumphing over social-climbing, deception and trickery.

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