TS Eliot’s tale of the killing of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, Murder in the Cathedral, will be staged in a trio of religious buildings next month as Scena Mundi Theatre takes it on a short tour. Book your tickets now.
The new production, led by Jasper Britton, runs at Southwark Cathedral on 4, 5, 12 and 13 November 2019, University Church of St Mary The Virgin in Oxford on 8 and 9 November and Guildford Cathedral on 14 November.
Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral retells one of the most famous moments in English history, when, after Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket stood up for the power of the church against his friend and king, Henry II, he was brutally killed by a quartet of Norman knights. It shows the ultimate struggle of an outspoken and courageous priest, silenced for daring to speak out against his monarch.
This new tour gives audiences the opportunity to witness the assassination of Becket in a beautiful, immersive setting and feel his demons, the darkness and sense of doom ushered in by his quarrel with an iron-fisted ruler.
Britton, who plays Becket, is a star of the British stage who boasts numerous credits with the Royal Shakespeare Company. His most recent London stage appearances include Witness for the Prosecution (County Hall), Pack of Lies (Menier Chocolate Factory) and The Blinding Light (Jermyn Street Theatre). He also recently worked on the prequel to global phenomenon Game of Thrones.
He’s joined in Murder in the Cathedral by Rupert Bates, Pip Brignall, Jake Dove, James Keningale, David Keogh, David Shelley and a chorus of The Women of Canterbury.
Scena Mundi Artistic Director Cecilia Dorland directs the production, having previously staged it in 2014 and harboured the ambition of taking it to major cathedrals. Following this initial season, there are plans to take the production to 25 other venues in 2020.
Next year actually marks 850 years since Beckett’s murder, and Southwark Cathedral is a particularly fitting venue for this tour, marking that event, to start, as Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark, explains:
“Thomas Becket preached his final sermon in London at the Priory of St. Mary Overie, now Southwark Cathedral. It is therefore deeply appropriate that this new production of Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral will be performed at Southwark as we begin the marking of the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of this great saint. We look forward to playing our part in the remembrance of a champion of the English church and people”
American-born writer TS Eliot moved to England in 1914 at the age of 24, becoming a British subject in 1927. His acclaimed poetry, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948, includes The Waste Land, The Hollow Men and Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which provided the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s famous musical. In addition to Murder in the Cathedral, his plays include The Family Reunion, The Elder Statesman and the Tony Award-winning The Cocktail Party. Eliot was fascinated by Thomas Beckett, a martyr gruesomely murdered for opposing the tyrannical rule of Henry II. Written in 1935, as Fascism rose in Europe, Murder in the Cathedral has contemporary echoes and warnings for our time.
Murder in the Cathedral runs at Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, London SE1 9DA on 4, 5, 12 and 13 November 2019, University Church of St Mary The Virgin, The High St, Oxford OX1 4BJ on 8 and 9 November and Guildford Cathedral, Stag Hill, Guildford GU2 7UP on 14 November, with performances at 7.30pm. Tickets are from £10. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
About Scena Mundi
Scena Mundi is an ensemble theatre company formed by Cecilia Dorland in 2013. The company aims to stage classical texts through a bold, refined aesthetic that will shock audiences out of their conventional ideas about the plays, and to create ephemeral worlds and visions made to delight and disturb. Previous productions include Everyman, Richard II and Edward II (all at The Priory Church of St. Batholomew the Great), Twelfth Night (French Protestant Church, Soho Square) and the Offie Award-nominated The Duchess of Malfi (St Giles in the Fields).