Theatre News

Antony Sher stars in Death of a Salesman at RSC; Hugh Quarshie plays Othello

The new season also features a return for former artistic director Trevor Nunn, and a tour of ”A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016

Friends reunited: Antony Sher and Alex Hassell in Henry IV Part I
Friends reunited: Antony Sher and Alex Hassell in Henry IV Part I
© Kwame Lestrade

Antony Sher will play Willy Loman in a revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman at the RSC next year to mark the playwright's centenary.

The production, which will be directed by Gregory Doran, runs from 26 March to 2 May 2015 in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The cast will also feature Alex Hassell, who recently played Prince Hal opposite Sher's Falstaff in Henry IV, as Loman's eldest son Biff.

Miller's 1949 Pulitzer prize-winning play centres on the failed dreams and thwarted ambitions of a 60-something salesman living in Brooklyn. The last major revival in the UK was in the West End in 2005 starring Brian Dennehy.

Sher, who is Doran's partner, has a long association with the RSC which includes his landmark portrayal of Richard III in 1984. His recent credits include Hysteria at Hampstead Theatre and The Captain of Köpenick at the National.

Venice season; Nunn returns

Also announced by the RSC today is its summer 'Venice' season, featuring a pairing of The Merchant of Venice (14 May-2 September) directed by Polly Findlay, and Othello (4 June-28 August 2015) directed by Iqbal Khan.

Hugh Quarshie
Hugh Quarshie
© Dan Wooller

Hugh Quarshie and Lucian Msamati play Othello and Iago; the production marks Quarshie's first appearance with the RSC since 1996. Msamati is currently appearing in Little Revolution at the Almeida, and was recently seen in The Amen Corner and The Comedy of Errors at the National.

In the Swan Theatre, Marlowe's The Jew of Malta (18 March-8 September) will be revived by Justin Audibert, making his RSC debut. And John Ford's never-before-seen 1633 play Love's Sacrifice (11 April-24 June), which "echoes with Othello" in its theme of jealousy, will be directed by Matthew Dunster, who also marks his company debut.

Opening on 3 July in The Swan is Ben Jonson's Volpone, which marks a return to the RSC for former artistic director Trevor Nunn, who opened The Swan in 1986. He last worked with the company in 2007 to direct King Lear, starring Ian McKellen, and The Seagull.

Henry Goodman returns to the RSC as the 'Fox' of the title; he was last with the RSC as Richard III in 2003 and has recently been at the National Theatre in The Holy Rosenbergs and as the eponymous Arturo Ui in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui in the West End last year.

"We have programmed main stage work which draws on our heritage as the world’s greatest Shakespeare company," said artistic director Gregory Doran, "and we celebrate the Swan Theatre as the home of work by Shakespeare's contemporaries, with powerful plays from Marlowe, Ford and Jonson, which resonate with Shakespeare’s themes and the Venice setting as they too explore the idea of the outsider."

'A play for the whole nation'

Next year the RSC will work with 13 theatre partners and a vast range of amateur theatre-makers across the UK to produce A Midsummer Night's Dream, described as "a play for the whole nation".

According to the company: "This special production combines of two years of touring as it is created for and will mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016. Of all Shakespeare's plays, this one is especially loved for its delightful comedy, its magical setting and its cavalcade of glorious characters."

A professional RSC company directed by deputy artistic director Erica Whyman will tour A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation for twelve weeks throughout the spring and summer of 2016. In every location, a new group of amateur performers will play Bottom and the rude mechanicals and local schoolchildren will play Titania's fairy train.

Whyman said: "There's some fantastic and unexpected talent out there in the amateur theatre world, and we’ve had the privilege to see so much of it over the last three years of Open Stages. It is a real treat to be able to bring the professional and amateur worlds together in this extraordinary tour."