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National Theatre's Romeo and Juliet film with Jessie Buckley and Josh O'Connor to be broadcast on TV

The specially created show will air next year

Jessie Buckley and Josh O'Connor
© Sebastian Nevols

A recorded version of Romeo and Juliet will be shot by the National Theatre.

Having been postponed following its originally planned summer 2020 run, the show will now be created for broadcast on Sky Arts' Freeview channel in the UK and PBS in the US.

The venue will utilise the stage spaces of its Lyttelton theatre to house the production of the 90-minute film over the course of a three-week shoot. The project marks the first time that an original production has been made exclusively for screen at the National.

The piece is set to be directed by Simon Godwin (Antony and Cleopatra, Twelfth Night), and is adapted for the screen by Emily Burns. Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl, Judy) and Josh O'Connor (God's Own Country, The Crown) will take on the titular roles.

Rufus Norris, director and joint chief executive of the National Theatre, said: "Realising the Lyttelton theatre would need to remain shut to audiences during this time has been really difficult and meant we found ourselves in a unique set of circumstances. I wanted to find a way to use that space to create something exciting and special for audiences, that utilised the exceptional skill and craft of the National Theatre's teams, freelancers and creative associates, and that could reach as many people as we can.

"That's all going to be possible with this brilliant film of Romeo and Juliet and, in collaboration with Sky Arts, PBS and No Guarantees, it will be seen across the UK and US. I'm delighted that Simon, Jessie, Josh and the team have joined us for a National Theatre first and are going to create a truly fresh film of Shakespeare's enduring love story."

Appearing alongside Buckley and O'Connor is the previously revealed Fisayo Akinade (The Antipodes, Barber Shop Chronicles) as Mercutio.

Joining the cast are Deborah Findlay (Coriolanus, The Split) in the role of the Nurse, Tamsin Greig (Twelfth Night, Talking Heads) as Lady Capulet, Lucian Msamati (Master Harold…and the boys, His Dark Materials) as the Friar, Shubham Saraf (A Suitable Boy) as Benvolio, David Judge (My Brilliant Friend) as Tybalt, Alex Mugnaioni (The Visit) as Paris and Ellis Howard (Catherine the Great) as Sampson.

Godwin's production will be set in modern day Italy, and feature a creative team including DP Tim Sidell (I Hate Suzie), with production design by Soutra Gilmour, movement direction by Jonathan Goddard and Shelley Maxwell, fight direction by Kate Waters and composition by Michael Bruce.

Rehearsals will begin in November at the National, with shooting taking place in December ahead of a Spring 2021 release.