One of Shakespeare's least performed plays, Henry VIII, receives a fresh outing, adapted and directed by Phil Wilmott, at London's fringe Bridewell Theatre this month. The production opens tonight, 6 June 2002, and continues until 29 June.

The mind and body of a hot-blooded young King are the prize in a three-way power struggle between his queen, his mistress and the ruthlessly ambitious Cardinal Wolsey. At stake are marriages, empires, careers and necks. Billed here as a "fast-moving, sexually charged thriller", Henry VIII is set in the modern day in Wilmott's production of sex, sleaze, palace scandal and political spin.

Simon Merrells, who takes the title role, has previously been seen in Steven Berkoff's Coriolanus and Michael Bogdanov's Romeo and Juliet. He's joined in the cast by Katerina Jugati (Katherine of Aragon), James Horne (Wolsey), Cara Sweeney (Anne Boleyn), Simon Wright, Bea Holland, Anna Ziman, Amy Rockson, Martin Fisher, Eugene Washington and Anthony Biggs.

An award-winning director, Wilmott has directed over 30 productions across the UK from Shakespeare to Rent. He is an associate director at the BAC and artistic director of The Steam Industry. Henry VIII is designed by Rosemary Flegg, with lighting by Hansjorg Schmidt and sound by Adam Keeper. It is produced by Suzanna Rosenthal Ltd in association with The Steam Industry.

The text of this new production will be published by Oberon Books this autumn.