Theatre News

Complete company for ”Hamnet”’s stage premiere announced

The Hamnet company pictured outside Anne Hathaway's cottage
The Hamnet company pictured outside Anne Hathaway’s cottage
© RSC, photo by Simon Hadley,

The full cast for the stage premiere of Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet has been revealed.

Opening in Stratford-upon-Avon in April, the show follows an imagined reality for Agnes/Anne Hathaway, wife of the man who would end up being the most famous playwright of the millenium.

Playwright Lolita Chakrabarti said; “Writing this play was made even more challenging due to the huge impact Maggie O’Farrell’s novel has had. Every reader seems to have a very personal relationship to this story. Shakespeare is studied, examined and lauded across the world and at times, it has felt presumptuous of me to add my own flavour to this iconic man. When I began researching sixteenth century Stratford and London I was instantly drawn to the diversity in England at that time. It no longer surprises me that there were all kinds of people here. That is how the world works – immigration has always been a reality and as expected, many of those people integrated into British society.

“There are limited facts about Agnes/Anne Hathaway but I love playing with history and fiction and moulding them together so that one informs the other. It is a great privilege to look at the Shakespeares through my detailed research and personal lens. This woman behind the playwright is a fascinating character and after studying Maggie’s book, it is clear to me now that her son was the inspiration for one of our greatest pieces of English literature.”

Set to appear in the piece and taking on the role of Agnes Hathaway will be Madeleine Mantock, who made her West End stage debut in Blithe Spirit at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Tom Varey (A Taste of Honey) will play William Shakespeare, with both making their RSC debuts in the piece. Peter Wight (Uncle Vanya, Rosmersholm) will return to the RSC for the first time since 1997 to play John/Will Kempe.

Completing the cast are Sarah Belcher (Joan), Will Brown (Burbage/Father John), Haydn Burke (Ensemble), Ajani Cabey (Hamnet/Thomas Day) Faye Campbell (Ensemble), Frankie Hastings (Eliza), Karl Haynes (Ned), Alex Jarrett (Judith), Hannah McPake (Jude), Rose Riley (Tilly/Caterina), Elizabeth Rider (Mary), Harmony Rose-Bremner (Susanna) and Obioma Ugoala (Bartholomew).

The show is directed by the RSC’s acting artistic director Erica Whyman, while the show features set and costume sesign by Tom Piper, lighting by Prema Mehta, sound by Xana, music by Oğuz Kaplangi, casting by Amy Ball CDG, movement by Ayse Tashkiran and fights by Kate Waters.

The production, which is selling incredibly well (heating up rumours of a future life), will run from 1 April 2023 to 17 June 2023.

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