RSC’s Hamnet to transfer to the West End’s Garrick Theatre

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has announced that its world-premiere production of Hamnet is transferring to London’s Garrick Theatre.

The show will play for a strictly limited 14 week season at the Garrick Theatre from 30 September 2023 to 6 January 2024.

The play is based on Maggie O’Farrell’s acclaimed, best-selling novel, adapted by Lolita Chakrabarti (Life of Pi) and directed by RSC Acting Artistic Director Erica Whyman.

The play will be the first production in the RSC’s newly renovated Swan Theatre, joining shows including The Empress and Falkland Sound, and run from 1 April to 17 June 2023 in Stratford. The Swan Theatre run is already sold out.

Casting for the play will see Agnes Hathaway played by Madeleine Mantock (Blithe Spirit – West End), who also stars at the Swan Theatre in Stratford.

Other cast are to be confirmed, but at the Swan Theatre the role of William Shakespeare is played by Tom Varey (Ackley Bridge), John/Will Kempe by Peter Wight (Vera Drake), and the wider company includes 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 play is a co-pro with Sam Mendes and Caro Newling’s Neal Street Productions, who are currently co-producing the National Theatre’s production of The Lehman Trilogy – which Sam Mendes directed – at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in London. They are also co-producing the National’s new production of Jack Thorne’s The Motive and the Cue, which comes to the National in April 2023 starring Johnny Flynn, Tuppence Middleton, Mark Gatiss and Janie Dee. Hera Pictures are also co-producing.

The production will feature Set and Costume Design 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.

Book tickets to Hamnet at the Garrick Theatre in London

The Quotes

Maggie O’Farrell said: “It’s wonderful and welcome news that Hamnet will transfer to the Garrick Theatre later this year. I was astonished at how fast the Stratford-upon-Avon tickets sold and it’s lovely to know that more people will have the chance to see it in its new London home. It has been a joy from start to finish to work with the RSC, Hera Pictures, Neal Street Productions, director Erica Whyman and playwright Lolita Chakrabarti on bringing this adaptation into being. I have been lucky enough to attend rehearsals, and to have a glimpse into the creative process of transposing a novel into a play has been fascinating. The cast are fantastic, each and every one, and are breathing new life into the story for its stage version. The motivation, for me, in writing the novel was to give a voice and a presence to the only son of William Shakespeare, who died when he was eleven and has ever since been relegated to a literary footnote in his father’s biography. Although Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and maintained strong ties with the town throughout his life, choosing to return to his family there when he retired, London was of course the centre of his professional life. It feels particularly apt and moving, therefore, that a play which puts Hamnet centre stage will now move to the world of theatrical London.”

Lolita Chakrabarti said, “I am beyond excited that Hamnet is transferring, following the sell-out run at the Swan. It has been a real journey to adapt Maggie’s beautiful, deep novel, but this is a story of the joys and trials of family life, so it has been very familiar as well. This play is, in part, about William Shakespeare, but it is mainly about Agnes Hathaway, the wife who gave him three children. It is the imagined story of their life. It feels right that we bring Hamnet to London, to the streets he would’ve walked and the world he inhabited. The West End is no stranger to Shakespeare’s work, but I hope London audiences will come to see Hamnet to meet the entire Shakespeare family and discover more about the works they helped to inspire.”

Erica Whyman, Acting Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company said; “I have been overwhelmed by the response to Hamnet in Stratford and the palpable excitement about bringing this beautiful and important book to the stage. We are having a rewarding and inventive time in rehearsals and I’m delighted that we will now be able to share this emotional rollercoaster of a story with audiences in London. It has meant the world to me to be collaborating with Neal Street and Hera Pictures who have supported the idea of this adaptation from the very beginning and are making this transfer possible. The RSC is enormously proud of the new work we make and we are always seeking partners so that we can share our work in London, most recently the phenomenally successful My Neighbour Totoro with the Barbican, Improbable and Nippon TV and later this year The Empress will be at the Lyric Hammersmith.  Hamnet is a compelling story about love. It transcends 400 years of history – a history some of us may know – and speaks with total freshness straight to our hearts. It is a story of birth, death and hope which centres characters and lives who have been left in the shadows. It is also a hymn to the unique emotional wisdom of the theatre. Lolita’s brilliantly sharp adaptation carries us from the wildflowers of Stratford to the boisterous success of London theatre – and now the production will too!” 

Caro Newling, Neal Street Productions said; “Maggie O’Farrell’s piercing account of Hamnet’s short life and his immeasurable legacy has found a perfect home at the Swan Theatre. To collaborate with the RSC, led by Erica and the creative team she has built to make this production, fulfils a long-held hope to make a stage adaptation rooted in the fullest possible appreciation of the story’s time, place and spirit. The appetite for this title has powered immediate plans for a move to London and we’re delighted to be arriving at the Garrick Theatre within weeks of the run at Stratford-upon-Avon.” 

📷 Main photo: Madeleine Mantock


Garrick Theatre, London

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