Full casting details have been announced for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s highly anticipated Hamlet, starring David Tennant (pictured) as the Prince and Patrick Stewart, following his Tony-nominated Broadway turn in Macbeth, as the Ghost and Claudius (See News, 11 Sep 2007). RSC chief associate Gregory Doran’s production runs in rep at Stratford-upon-Avon’s Courtyard Theatre from 5 August to 15 November 2008 (previews from 24 July), after which it is expected to transfer to a West End theatre (still tbc) for a limited Christmas season.

Tennant and Stewart are joined in the company by Penny Downie (The Penelopiad, The Prisoner’s Dilemma, Dinner) as Gertrude, Oliver Ford-Davies (most recently seen in Much Ado About Nothing and Saint Joan at the National) as Polonius, John Woodvine (Timon of Athens, Don Carlos, TV’s Shameless and Rome) as the Player King and, as previously reported (See News, 7 May 2008), Mariah Gale as Ophelia.

Also in the ensemble are: David Ajala (Reynaldo), Sam Alexander (Rosencrantz and Second Gravedigger), Edward Bennett (Laertes), Ricky Champ (Lucianus) Ewen Cummins (Barnardo), Robert Curtis (Franciso), Tom Davey (Guildenstern), Peter De Jersey (Horatio), Samuel Dutton (Lord) Ryan Gage (Oscric), Mark Hadfield (Gravedigger), Jim Hooper (Priest), Keith Osborn (Marcellus), Roderick Smith (Lord and Captain), Andrea Harris (Lady), Riann Steele (Lady) and Zoe Thorne (Lady and Player). The production is designed by Robert Jones, with lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Paul Englishby, sound by Jeremy Dunn, movement by Michael Ashcroft and fight direction by Terry King.

Commenting on Tennant’s titular casting, director Gregory Doran said: “Hamlet is a play that waits for the right actor to come along. This Hamlet will be to some extent who David is. You have to have an actor who can be, as Ophelia describes him, ‘the poet, the soldier, the scholar’. He has to be someone who is charismatic and can be brutal and coarse, and can be witty and moving and can physically take on the demands of the part. I believe that David’s skills fill all these criteria.”

Doran has just opened his production of A Midsummer Night's Dream which is performed by largely the same company of supporting actors who will be performing in Hamlet as well as his upcoming production of Love's Labour's Lost, the RSC’s first staging of the play in more than 12 years, in which David Tennant will play the lovelorn Berowne with Mariah Gale as the Princess of France, Nina Sosanya as Rosaline and Oliver Ford-Davies as Holofernes. Love's Labour's joins the Courtyard rep from 2 October to 15 November 2008.

- by Terri Paddock