The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced that The Comedy of Errors will transfer to the Barbican for a strictly limited London run following a season in Stratford-upon-Avon and a short national tour. The production, directed by Phillip Breen (The Provoked Wife, The Hypocrite) will run at the venue from 16 November until 31 December, with an opening night on Tuesday 23 November.
The production was due to be part of the RSC’s summer season in 2020 but was postponed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 17-strong cast includes members of the original acting company, with a number of roles recast.
Director Phillip Breen said:
“I am beyond excited to be making my debut at the Barbican this autumn with this production of The Comedy of Errors. It’s an extraordinary play, not least because of how it resonates with the times we now find ourselves in – a play of family reunions, people finding each other once again, people holding each other at sunset – it seems entirely apt for this moment, and for the RSC to be reunited with the Barbican once again this autumn.”
Gregory Doran, RSC artistic director, added: “The Royal Shakespeare Company’s home is in the very heart of the country, but we have always cherished our strong presence in London, the theatre capital of the world. This autumn we will be back at the Barbican, Gielgud Theatre and Cambridge Theatre and we cannot wait.
“I look forward to returning to the Barbican, sharing our summer production of The Comedy of Errors with London audiences. The play, directed by Phillip Breen, a master of comedy, is one of Shakespeare’s most hilarious and joy-filled, but with its accompanying themes of separation, loss and ultimate reunion it also chimes with our challenging times.”
Toni Racklin, head of theatre and dance at the Barbican, commented: “We’re delighted to welcome the RSC back to the Barbican in 2021 in a relationship that continues to get deeper and stronger. In these uncertain times, the RSC’s annual fixture in our year-round international theatre and dance programme is warmly anticipated by both our organisations and audiences. We’re so thrilled that we are able to show The Comedy of Errors to our London audiences, and to welcome for the first time Phillip Breen, who makes his Barbican debut.”
Jonathan Broadbent and Greg Haiste retain their roles as, respectively, Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus, while Hedydd Dylan (Adrianna), Guy Lewis (Antipholus of Syracuse) and Rowan Polonski (Antipholus of Ephesus) join the company. Original cast member Avita Jay will now play Luciana.
The cast also includes: Toyin Ayedun-Alase, Antony Bunsee, Alfred Clay, William Grint, Zoe Lambert (Aemelia), Dyfrig Morris, Baker Mukasa, Patrick Osborne, Nicholas Prasad, Riad Richie and Sarah Seggari.
Breen’s previous RSC directorial credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Provoked Wife and The Hypocrite. The production is designed by Max Jones with lighting by Tina MacHugh, music by Paddy Cunneen, sound by Dyfan Jones, movement by Charlotte Broom and fights by Renny Krupinski.
As previously announced, producers Playful Productions and the RSC will stage the third and final novel in the Wolf Hall trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, adapted for the West End stage. The world premiere will run at the Gielgud Theatre from 23 September until 28 November 2021 with an opening night on 6 October.
The play will be the concluding chapter of Hilary Mantel’s multi-award-winning novels about the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, all commissioned and developed for the stage by Playful Productions. The Mirror and the Light has been adapted for stage by Mantel herself alongside Ben Miles, who will return to his role as Cromwell to complete the trilogy. Nathaniel Parker joins him, resuming his Olivier Award-winning and Tony Award nominated role as Henry VIII. Jeremy Herrin, who was nominated for an Olivier Award for the first two productions, returns to direct.
The production will feature scenic and costume design by Christopher Oram who won both Olivier and Tony Awards for his work on Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies and music by Stephen Warbeck.
As previously announced, the RSC’s West End production of Matilda The Musical will return to the Cambridge Theatre from 16 September 2021. Celebrating 10 years since the multi-award-winning show opened in London, this iconic British musical has won 99 international awards including 24 for Best Musical and has been seen by more than 10 million people across more than 90 cities worldwide.
The RSC added that it very much hoped the next stage in the Government Roadmap would be reached in July so that its productions could take place as planned without social distancing in place. However, if social distancing does remain, the company would need to consider the implications for its shows.