Theatre News

”Hamnet” to transfer to the West End

The Royal Shakespeare Company, Neal Street Productions, and Hera Pictures announced that the stage production of Hamnet will transfer to the West End.

Based on the best-selling novel by Maggie O’Farrell, adapted by award-winning playwright Lolita Chakrabarti, and directed by RSC acting artistic director Erica Whyman, the play is follows the life of Agnes Hathaway, the wife of the man who would later become the most famous playwright on the planet.

Madeleine Mantock (Charmed, The Long Song) will play Agnes Hathaway for the West End run in her RSC debut. Hamnet has already sold out its world premiere run at the newly restored Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, with returns available for those desperate to catch it before it transfers.

Maggie O’Farrell said: “It’s wonderful and welcome news that Hamnet will transfer to the Garrick Theatre later this year. I was astonished at how fast the Stratford-upon-Avon tickets sold and it’s lovely to know that more people will have the chance to see it in its new London home. It has been a joy from start to finish to work with the RSC, Hera Pictures, Neal Street Productions, director Erica Whyman and playwright Lolita Chakrabarti on bringing this adaptation into being.

“I have been lucky enough to attend rehearsals, and to have a glimpse into the creative process of transposing a novel into a play has been fascinating. The cast are fantastic, each and every one, and are breathing new life into the story for its stage version. The motivation, for me, in writing the novel was to give a voice and a presence to the only son of William Shakespeare, who died when he was eleven and has ever since been relegated to a literary footnote in his father’s biography.

“Although Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and maintained strong ties with the town throughout his life, choosing to return to his family there when he retired, London was of course the centre of his professional life. It feels particularly apt and moving, therefore, that a play which puts Hamnet centre stage will now move to the world of theatrical London.”

Lolita Chakrabarti added: “I am beyond excited that Hamnet is transferring, following the sell-out run at the Swan. It has been a real journey to adapt Maggie’s beautiful, deep novel, but this is a story of the joys and trials of family life, so it has been very familiar as well. This play is, in part, about William Shakespeare, but it is mainly about Agnes Hathaway, the wife who gave him three children.

“It is the imagined story of their life. It feels right that we bring Hamnet to London, to the streets he would’ve walked and the world he inhabited. The West End is no stranger to Shakespeare’s work, but I hope London audiences will come to see Hamnet to meet the entire Shakespeare family and discover more about the works they helped to inspire.”

The production will run for a limited 14-week season at the Garrick Theatre. from Saturday 30 September 2023 to Saturday 6 January 2024 with a press performance on Thursday 12 October 2023.

Whyman said today: “I have been overwhelmed by the response to Hamnet in Stratford and the palpable excitement about bringing this beautiful and important book to the stage.

“We are having a rewarding and inventive time in rehearsals and I’m delighted that we will now be able to share this emotional rollercoaster of a story with audiences in London. It has meant the world to me to be collaborating with Neal Street and Hera Pictures who have supported the idea of this adaptation from the very beginning and are making this transfer possible.

“The RSC is enormously proud of the new work we make and we are always seeking partners so that we can share our work in London, most recently the phenomenally successful My Neighbour Totoro with the Barbican, Improbable and Nippon TV and later this year The Empress will be at the Lyric Hammersmith.

Hamnet is a compelling story about love. It transcends 400 years of history – a history some of us may know – and speaks with total freshness straight to our hearts. It is a story of birth, death and hope which centres characters and lives who have been left in the shadows. It is also a hymn to the unique emotional wisdom of the theatre. Lolita’s brilliantly sharp adaptation carries us from the wildflowers of Stratford to the boisterous success of London theatre – and now the production will too!”

Public booking opens on 6 April 2023, with priority spots available for thoe who join the RSC.