Included in Methuen's Arden Complete Works of Shakespeare for the first time last year, Double Falsehood premiered has dodged obscurity and divided academics. Originally unearthed in 1727 by impresario Lewis Theobald, who claimed it was a lost play by Shakespeare and John Fletcher dating from 1613. The production enjoyed several popular revivals at the time despite critics questioning its authenticity.
Based on a long-lost work titled Cardenio, which was itself thought to be based on Cervantes' Don Quixote, Double Falsehood sees a Duke’s youngest son rape a village girl and sets out to steal his friend’s bride. The aftermath of these traumatic events drives the four into the wilderness and the Duke’s eldest son must find a way of reconciling everyone and reuniting the missing young people with their squabbling parents.
Phil Willmott’s production for MokitaGrit opened at the Union Theatre in Southwark on 21 January and finishes this Saturday, 12 February. Producer Ellie Collyer-Bristow believes it to be the first professional revival since the piece was last shown "somewhere in Covent Garden" in 1792.
MokitaGrit has got a jump on the Royal Shakespeare Company, which will be staging its own reimagining of the “lost play”, under the title Cardenio, as part of its 50th birthday season in Stratford-upon-Avon, running in rep in the reopened Swan Theatre from 14 April to 6 October 2011.
Double Falsehood will be one of the final productions at the New Players. The old music hall venue, situated under the Arches off Villiers Street under Charing Cross station, relaunches next month under its new name, the Charing Cross Theatre.
The inaugural offering under the theatre’s fresh guise will be a new production of The Exonerated, the hit Off-Broadway drama about living on death row, which will run for six weeks from 4 March to 9 April 2011 (previews from 1 March).
Written in 2001 by husband-and-wife team Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, The Exonerated is based on interviews with 40 former death row prisoners. It explores the experiences of those wrongfully imprisoned for between two and 22 years. The play was first performed in April 2002 by the Los Angeles-based Actors’ Gang, under the artistic directorship of Hollywood’s Tim Robbins, before transferring to New York. In 2005, it was adapted for television and aired on the US’ Court TV channel, starring Quinn, Brian Dennehy, Danny Glover, Delroy Lindo, Susan Sarandon and David Brown Jr.
The Exonerated went on to play over 600 performances Off-Broadway and has been produced around the world. Following success at the Edinburgh festival, it received its London premiere in 2006 at Riverside Studios, where it featured a rota of American and British screen stars.
Unlike that and other previous stints, presented in the style of a staged reading, this new production of The Exonerated will be fully staged. The cast are Glenn Carter, Derek Griffiths, Kelle Bryan, Cavin Cornwall, Anthony Cozens, Lisa Eichhorn, Gabriel Fleary, Alex Gatehouse, Ian Porter and Gabriella Santinelli.
It’s directed by Jaclyn McLoughlin and designed by Nigel Hook, with lighting by George Bishop and sound by Tom Middleton. It’s presented by Steven M Levy and Sweeney Earl Productions and is supported by Amnesty International.