The world renowned Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is returning to Newcastle Theatre Royal this autumn following a hugely successful season in autumn last year. The 2014 season features an enthralling trio of new productions – Henry IV, Part I (25 September – 4 October) and Henry IV, Part II (26 September – 4 October) and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (7 – 11 October).
Direct from Shakespeare’s hometown in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company brings arguably two of Shakespeare’s greatest plays Henry IV, Parts I and II to Newcastle Theatre Royal. Directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran and with a cast including RSC Associate Artist Antony Sher as Falstaff, Jasper Britton as Henry lV, Alex Hassell as Prince Hal and Paola Dionisotti as Mistress Quickly, this exploration of Shakespeare’s History Plays is an epic, comic and thrilling vision of a nation in turmoil.
With his crown under threat from enemies both foreign and domestic, Part I sees Henry prepare for war and his son, Prince Hal, face up to responsibilities of family and throne. Continuing with Part II, King Henry’s health is fading and Hal must choose between duty and loyalty to an old friend in Shakespeare’s heart-breaking conclusion to this epic pairing of plays.
Knighted for his services for acting and writing, Antony Sher first worked for the RSC in 1982. He last appeared with the RSC in the 2009 Baxter Theatre Centre/RSC production of The Tempest. His many other rôles for the company have included his award-winning performance in Richard III, as well as the title rôles in Tamburlaine, Cyrano de Bergerac and Macbeth. He will be joined by Alex Hassell, who returns to the Company as Prince Hal, having performed at the RSC in 2011 in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The City Madam, and Gregory Doran’s production of Cardenio. Jasper Britton plays Henry IV. His previous work for the RSC includes Petruchio in Gregory Doran’s production of The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed (2003/04). Paola Dionisotti plays Mistress Quickly, following her performances as Pandulph in King John and Margaret in Richard III in 2012.
Several of the cast and all of the creative team for these productions were also part of Doran’s recent critically acclaimed production of Richard II with David Tennant.
Shakespeare’s early exuberant romantic comedy about friendship and betrayal, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, will conclude the Newcastle season. The production will be directed by Simon Godwin, making his RSC debut. Simon is an Associate Director at the Royal Court and at Bristol Old Vic and his production of Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude recently played to critical acclaim at the National Theatre.
Valentine and Proteus are best friends until they fall in love with the same girl. Having travelled to Milan in search of adventure, they both fall for the Duke’s daughter Silvia. But Proteus is already sworn to his sweetheart Julia at home in Verona, and the Duke thinks Valentine is not good enough for his Silvia.
With friendship forgotten, the rivals’ affections quickly get out of hand as the four young lovers find themselves on a wild chase through the woods, confused by mistaken identity and threatened by fierce outlaws before they find a path to reconciliation.
Before arriving in Newcastle The Two Gentlemen of Verona will be performed on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage for the first time in 45 years.
Philip Bernays, Chief Executive of the Theatre Royal, said: “I’m thrilled to welcome back the RSC for what will be another fantastic season – it’s great news, and a very popular trio of shows. Henry IV Part I and Part II follow on from the magnificent Richard ll in what is a series of Shakespeare’s History plays directed by Gregory Doran, so I’m eager to see what he has in store for us with these two new productions. The Two Gentlemen of Verona is one of Shakespeare’s rarely performed comedies so this will be a special treat and I’m sure our audience will love it. The RSC is a truly iconic company and it is an honour to have them return to their northern home”
Gregory Doran, Artistic Director of the RSC said: “I’m delighted that we’ll be visiting the Theatre Royal, Newcastle later this year with my own productions of Henry IV, Parts I and II, featuring Antony Sher as Falstaff, Jasper Britton as Henry IV, Alex Hassell as Hal and Paola Dionisotti as Mistress Quickly. We’re also bringing a special treat in the shape of Simon Godwin’s take on the rarely seen comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona. It’s over 20 years since we performed Henry IV at the Theatre Royal, and over 30 years in the case of Two Gentlemen, so we hope audiences in the North East will the opportunity to see work that we haven’t brought to the area for a while.
“Newcastle is a special place for the RSC, with audiences responding with genuine warmth to our visits. I have always enjoyed being in the city, most recently with my production of Julius Caesar in 2012. Last year our highly successful season at the Theatre Royal, with Hamlet, As You Like It and All’s Well That Ends Well, created a real buzz, and I can’t wait for us to return in the autumn.”
The RSC season appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal from 25 September – 11 October 2014.
Henry IV Part I runs 25 Sep – 4 Oct, 7.30pm (matinées 27 Sep, 2 &4 Oct, 1.30pm),
Henry IV Part II runs 26 Sep – 4 Oct, 7.30pm
The Two Gentlemen of Verona runs 7 – 11 Oct, 7.30pm (matinées 9 &11 Oct, 1.30pm).