NEWS: Justin Audibert directs 1641 classic The Cardinal, Stephen Boxer stars

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James Shirley’s tragic 1641 masterpiece, The Cardinal, comes to Southwark Playhouse in 2017, in a new production starring Stephen Boxer and directed by Justin Audibert. It has a limited season from 26 April to 27 May 2017, with a press night on 28 April.

“All great men know, the soul of life is fame.”

The state of Navarre is in crisis. An unscrupulous Cardinal has the ear of the King and is hungry for power. The Duchess Rosaura longs to marry the Count D’Alvarez, but the Cardinal wants her for his brutish nephew. To tighten his grip on the Kingdom, the ruthless Cardinal will stop at nothing to secure the marriage. But in the Duchess it seems he has finally met his match…

The Cardinal (1641) was one of the last plays staged in England before Oliver Cromwell’s ban on theatre. With remarkably lucid and fast-paced dialogue, it is the captivating story of a religious monster and his relentless pursuit of power.

The new production of The Cardinal is designed by Anna Reid and and produced by Troupe.


Playwright James Shirley was born in London in 1596. He was the last of the great Elizabethan dramatists linking the Golden Age with the period of the Restoration. He was educated at the University of Cambridge and after his ordination became master of the St. Albans Grammar School. About 1624 he moved to London and became a playwright. His first play Love Tricks was performed in 1625 at the Phoenix, Drury Lane. Shirley soon became the most prolific and highly regarded dramatist during the reign of King Charles I, writing 31 plays, 3 masques, and 3 moral allegories. He is best remembered for his comedies of fashionable London life, including The Witty Fair One (1628), Hyde Park (1632) and The Lady of Pleasure (1635), which depict a leisured, courtly society at love and play and look forward to the achievements of Restoration comedy. His best tragedies, both on dark, Italianate themes, are The Traitor (1631) and The Cardinal (1641). His elaborate masque The Triumph of Peace (1634) was performed at the Inns of Court, with scenery by Inigo Jones and music by William Lawes. When the theatres closed in 1636 as a precaution against further spread of the plague, Shirley became dramatist for St. Werburgh’s Theatre in Dublin. He returned to London in 1640, succeeding Philip Massinger as dramatist for the King’s Men at the Blackfriars Theatre, before the theatres were closed by Parliament in 1642. After the English Civil Wars (1642–51) his plays were amongst the first to be revived in the Restoration period. He died in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Actor Stephen Boxer’s work in theatre includes The Inn at Lydda (Shakespeare’s Globe), Shadowlands (National Tour for Birdsong Productions), Regeneration (Royal and Derngate Theatres, Northampton and National Tour for Touring Consortium Theatre Company), King Lear, The Holy Rosenbergs, Aristocrats, Power, Volpone, At Our Table, White Chameleon, The Shape of the Table and Once in a While the Odd Thing Happens (National Theatre), Titus Andronicus, The Heresy of Love, The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes, The Taming of the Shrew, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night, Richard III, The White Devil and Rousseau’s Tale (Royal Shakespeare Company), Anjin: The Shogun and The English Samurai (HoriPro Inc., Japan and Sadler’s Wells), Written on the Heart (Royal Shakespeare Company and Duchess Theatre), Hay Fever (Rose Theatre, Kingston), Brighton Beach Memoirs (Palace Theatre, Watford), The Great Highway (Gate Theatre), The Hypochondriac (Almeida Theatre), Love and Marriage and God and Stephen Hawking (Theatre Royal Bath), A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (Almeida Theatre and National Tour), Ten Rounds (Tricycle Theatre), Antarctica (Savoy Theatre), Six Characters Looking for an Author (The Young Vic), Six Degrees of Separation (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield), Bartholomew Fair (Royal Shakespeare Company and The Young Vic), The Herbal Bed (Royal Shakespeare Company and Duchess Theatre), Oleanna (Haymarket Theatre, Leicester), Measure for Measure (Cheek by Jowl), The Clearing (Bush Theatre), Karate Billy Comes Home (Royal Court Theatre), Barbarians and The Duchess of Malfi (Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican Theatre), Faith, Hope and Charity (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith), The Water Engine (Hampstead Theatre), Judgement Day (Old Red Lion Theatre) and Portraits (Savoy Theatre).

Film includes Postcards from London, The Gatehouse, Bomb, Ginger and Rosa, We Are the Freaks, The Iron Lady, Children of Men, Rabbit on the Moon, Seven Seconds, AKA, Mary Reilly, Crossing the Border and Carrington. Television includes Poldark, The Five, Agatha Raisin, Lewis, Lucky Man, Humans, Life in Squares, Toast of London, The Honourable Woman, Foyle’s War, Death in Paradise, Father Brown, Garrow’s Law, Luther, Doctors, Casualty, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, The Mould in Dr. Florey’s Coat, Midsomer Murders, Mysterious Creatures, The Quatermass Experiment, Silent Witness, Together, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, Absolute Power, Cherished, Dalziel and Pascoe, Life Begins, The Bill, Trial and Retribution, Absolute Power, Rosemary and Thyme, Ultimate Force, Murphy’s Law, Sons and Lovers, Trust, Blue Dove, In Deep, Grafters and Prime Suspect II, III and VI.

Radio for BBC Radio 4 includes John le Carré: The Biography and To a Mountain in Tibet.

Director Justin Audibert’s forthcoming work includes Snow in Midsummer (Royal Shakespeare Company) and Macbeth (National Theatre). Theatre includes My Mother Medea (Unicorn Theatre), How (Not) to Live in Suburbia (Pulse Festival, Ipswich and Edinburgh Festival), The Man with the Hammer (Theatre Royal Plymouth), Flare Path (National Tour for Birdsong Productions and Original Theatre Company), Mind the Gap (National Theatre), The Jew of Malta (Royal Shakespeare Company), Beached (Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury and Soho Theatre), Hamlet (Watermill Theatre, Newbury), Wingman (Soho Theatre and Pleasance Edinburgh), Raymondo (BAC, Pulse Festival, Ipswich and Edinburgh Festival), Unscorched (Finborough Theatre), A Season in the Congo: Parallel Project (The Young Vic), Wrong ‘Un (Red Ladder Theatre Company), Gruesome Playground Injuries (Gate Theatre) and The Tempest: Shakespeare in a Suitcase (Royal Shakespeare Company).

Justin co-wrote and co-presented the BBC Live Lessons on Shakespeare for the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is an Artistic Associate for NT Connections, a Creative Associate for the Shakespeare Schools Festival and an Education Associate Practitioner for the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2012 he was the recipient of the Leverhulme Award for Emerging Directors from the National Theatre Studio.

Designer Anna Reid trained at the Wimbledon College of Art. Forthcoming work includes School Play (Southwark Playhouse) and I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard (Finborough Theatre). Theatre includes Jumpers for Goalposts (Coliseum Theatre, Oldham), Epic Love and Pop Songs (Pleasance Edinburgh and Pleasance London), Empty Beds (Edinburgh Festival and Arcola Theatre), Fury and Brute (Soho Theatre), For Those Who Cry When They Hear The Foxes Scream (Tristan Bates Theatre), Tape (Drayton Studio Theatre), Primadonna and SKINT (VAULT Festival), Dottir (Courtyard Theatre), Dry Land (Jermyn Street Theatre), Bruises (Tabard Theatre), Arthur’s World (Bush Theatre), Hippolytos (Victoria and Albert Museum), Fierce (Camden People’s Theatre), Fifth Column (Waterloo Vaults), Hamlet (Riverside Studios), The Spanish Tragedy (King’s College Chapel, Cambridge), more (Corpus Playroom, Cambridge) and Macbeth (ADC Theatre, Cambridge and US Tour).

Producer Troupe is supported by a Michael Grandage Company Futures Bursary Award and makes its debut at Southwark Playhouse after producing three critically acclaimed rediscoveries at the Finborough Theatre: Rodney Ackland’s After October, Robert Bolt’s Flowering Cherry and R. C. Sherriff’s The White Carnation with Aden Gillett, which later transferred to Jermyn Street Theatre, starring Michael Praed. 

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Press Releases on Twitter
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MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.

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