Janet Suzman will join fellow stage royals Derek Jacobi, Donald Sinden and Ian Richardson this month in bringing John Barton's oft-revisited royal ode, The Hollow Crown, to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. The production will play for five days only from 16 to 20 July 2002, its only UK dates. Suzman replaces Diana Rigg who starred in the four-hander’s just-completed two-month Australasian tour.

The Hollow Crown was devised in 1961 by Barton for the Royal Shakespeare Company, as a celebratory entertainment, by and about the Kings and Queens of England. Through letters, songs, speeches, poems and music, it explores the changing role of the monarchy in this country, from Richard II's soliloquy at Pomfret Castle through to Malory's Morte D'Arthur, by way of Victoria's naïve description of her own coronation and many other episodes.

Since its premiere four decades ago, The Hollow Crown has been regularly revived, with more than 70 actors performing in it at different times over the years. The latest revival, directed by Barton himself, is produced by Duncan C Weldon and Paul Elliott for Triumph Entertainment.

Born in South Africa, Suzman became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1963. Her film debut came with A Day in the Death of Joe Egg in 1970, and she was Oscar-nominated a year later for Nicholas and Alexandra. Her non-RSC stage credits include Cherished Disappointments in Love, Vassa, The Sisters Rosensweig and Three Sisters.

Jacobi is well-known to both television and film audiences for work including, on the small screen, I Claudius, Cadfael and The Wyvern Mystery; and, on the large screen, The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, Dead Again, Father Damien and Gladiator. He is also a veteran stage actor, with long seasons at both the RSC and the National to his credit, as well as, more recently, roles in major productions such as The Suicide, Kean, Becket, Uncle Vanya, Breaking the Code and God Only Knows.

Since making his stage debut in 1942, Sinden's theatre credits have included Present Laughter, Uncle Vanya, The School for Scandal, She Stoops to Conquer and Quartet in the West End and numerous productions for the RSC, at Chichester and on Broadway. Amongst Richardson's many credits are, on stage, Man and Superman, My Fair Lady, Richard II and The Marat Sade and, on television, House of Cards, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, To Play the King and An Ungentlemanly Act.

- by Terri Paddock