Sir Peter Hall, who celebrated his 80th birthday last November, will revisit two of Shakespeare’s history plays Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 this summer for the first time since he mounted them as part of his legendary Wars of the Roses cycle more than 40 years ago when he was artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The Shakespeares are two of the four productions comprising Hall’s eighth annual summer repertory at the Theatre Royal Bath. The season, which runs from 7 July to 3 September 2011 and portrays different aspects of England at War, also includes revivals of Noel Coward’s rarely seen between-the-World Wars drama This Happy Breed and Alan Bennett’s 1991 play The Madness of George III.
The season kicks off on 7 July 2011 with Henry IV Part 1, which is then joined in rep from 13 July to 13 August with Part 2. Hall last directed the plays in 1963-1964 to inaugurate the RSC.
The full cross-cast company for the Henries will be: Desmond Barrit, Philip Voss, David Yelland, Lizzy McInnerny, Paul Bentall, Luke Courtier, Michael Mears, Cornelius Booth, Peter Bygott, Edward Harrison, Alex Blake, Danny Ashok, Tom Mison, Wendy Morgan, Ross Waiton, Robert East, Philip Voss, Katie Lightfoot, Ben Mansfield and Dominic Thorburn.
The Shakespeare double is followed, from 19 July to 13 August 2011, by This Happy Breed, directed by Stephen Unwin, who succeeded Hall as artistic director at the Rose, Kingston. The play follows the Gibbons, an ordinary family, from the day they move into a comfortable suburban home in Clapham in 1919 to the day they move out, 20 years later.
Although written in 1939, the Second World War interrupted rehearsals for This Happy Breed, which was eventually premiered in 1942 and filmed two years later, directed by David Lean and starring Celia Johnson and Robert Newton. The Bath production will star Shameless’ Dean Lennox Kelly and Rebecca Johnson.
Hall’s Theatre Royal Bath summer season concludes, from 17 August to 3 September, with The Madness of George III, directed by Christopher Luscombe. Alan Bennett’s 1991 play, premiered by Nicholas Hytner at the National in 1991 and later made into the 1994 film The Madness of King George, centres on the third Hanoverian king’s battle with mental illness, while foreign wars (including the loss of American colonies) and domestic politics raged around him.
The title role, originated on stage and screen by Nigel Hawthorne, will be played by David Haig, who will be joined in the cast by [Clive Francis. Following Bath, The Madness of George III will visit Richmond, Newcastle, Norwich, Cheltenham, Nottingham, Cambridge, Marlowe, Milton Keynes, Truro and Chichester, with further dates to be announced.