News: new productions and casting updates for the National Theatre

Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor headline a new production of Romeo and Juliet, while Callum Scott Howells and Rosie Sheehy star in Gary Owen’s Romeo and Julie, among other big news from the National Theatre

New productions

Simon Godwin returns to the National Theatre to direct Shakespeare’s ROMEO & JULIET following his critically-acclaimed productions of Antony and Cleopatra and Twelfth Night in the Olivier Theatre. Set in modern Italy in a world where Catholic and secular values clash, Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, Judy) and Josh O’Connor (The Crown, God’s Own Country) play the two young lovers who strive to transcend a world of violence and corruption. Fisayo Akinade (The Antipodes, Barber Shop Chronicles) is cast as Mercutio. The production will open in the Olivier Theatre in August 2020.

Set and costume design by Soutra Gilmour, lighting design by Lucy Carter, composition by Michael Bruce and sound design by Christopher Shutt.

Following a sold-out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and a Canadian tour, the Theatre Centre’s critically acclaimed production SEA SICK about the state of the global ocean, written and performed by Alanna Mitchell, comes to the National Theatre. In this powerful story, Mitchell uses science and wit to tell us about her journey to the bottom of the ocean, the demons she discovered there, and her hope for the future.

Mitchell is an award-winning Canadian journalist and author who writes about science and social trends specialising in investigative reporting. SEA SICK is inspired by her international bestseller and award-winning book of the same name, and is directed by Franco Boni and Ravi Jain. In the Dorfman 22 April – 7 May. Tickets available to the public from the 6th December.

Jude Christian (Lyric Hammersmith’s othellomacbeth) has reimagined HAMLET for younger audiences. Running in the Dorfman from 30 March – 9 April this energetic and engaging re-telling of Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedy is suitable for ages 8-12.

The production will also tour to state primary schools across Greater London from 10 February, collectively reaching over 6,000 pupils during the run as part of the NT’s commitment to introducing children and young people to theatre.

Directed by Tinuke Craig with set and costume design by Frankie Bradshaw, lighting design by Paul Knott, music by Sarah Taylor Ellis, sound design by Clark Henry-Brown and movement direction by Morgan Runacre-Temple.

The National Theatre’s Partner for Learning is Bank of America

Primary schools touring is supported by: The Mohn Westlake Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Ingram Trust, The Hearn Foundation, Archie Sherman Charitable Trust, The Behrens Foundation, Cleopatra Trust, The Dorset Foundation, Jill and David Leuw, Mulberry Trust, Newcomen Collett Foundation, St Olave’s Foundation Fund, and The Topinambour Trust.

Inspired by Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy, writer Gary Owen and director Rachel O’Riordan reunite (Iphigenia in Splott, Killology) to deliver ROMEO AND JULIE a powerful, funny and poignant new play about the hope and heartbreak of two young people in the 21st century. Callum Scott Howells and Rosie Sheehy will play Romeo and Julie, with Anita Reynolds as Kath.

Romeo is a teenage single dad hanging on tight. Julie is fighting to follow her dream of studying at Cambridge. Two working-class eighteen-year-olds raised a few streets apart, but from entirely different worlds, the pair crash headlong into first love, physics and dirty nappies.  But at this crossroads to the rest of their lives, both families fear the worst in a world of unequal opportunity.

A co-production with Sherman Theatre the production will open at The Lowry, Salford (5 -10 June), before touring to Cast, Doncaster (16 – 20 June); Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch (23 –27 June); and Theatre Royal, Wakefield (30 June – 4 July), four of the Theatre Nation Partners the NT has been working closely with for the past three years on a nationwide project to broaden and grow local audiences for drama in England. Romeo and Julie will then play in the Dorfman at the National Theatre (14 July – 29 August), before closing at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff (16 September – 3 October).

Set and costume design by Hayley Grindle, lighting design by Jack Knowles, sound design by Gregory Clarke and puppetry design and direction by Finn Caldwell.

Theatre Nation Partnerships is generously supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund and Garfield Weston Foundation. National Theatre UK Touring is supported by The Thompson Family Charitable Trust, The Royal National Theatre Foundation and Jacqueline and Richard Worswick.

New casting

JACK ABSOLUTE FLIES AGAIN by Richard Bean and Oliver Chris, based on Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals

In repertoire from April 15, with further dates to be announced

Laurie Davidson and Natalie Simpson will play Jack Absolute and Lydia Languish with Caroline Quentin as Mrs Malaprop and Richard Fleeshman as Dudley Scunthorpe. The cast will also include James Corrigan, Jordan Metcalfe and Helena Wilson.

Staged during the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Thea Sharrock (After The Dance) directs a riotous and comedic new version of Sheridan’s The Rivals, co-written by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) and Oliver Chris.

Set and costume design by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Bruno Poet, sound design by Paul Arditti, music by Adrian Johnston and video design by Jeff Sugg.

Production supported by Juliet de Baubigny

MANOR, a new play by Moira Buffini

Nancy Carroll plays Diana and Ben Daniels plays Ted in this thrilling, witty new play. Michele Austin, Peter Bray, Gillian Dean, David Hargreaves, Shaniqua Okwok and Eliot Salt also join the previously announced Amy Forrest and Edward Judge.

Writer Moira Buffini is reunited with director Fiona Buffini for the first time since the acclaimed DINNER.

Set and costume design by Lez Brotherston, lighting design by Paule Constable, composition and sound design by Jon Nicholls, video design by Andrzej Goulding and fight direction by Kate Waters.

ALL OF US, a new play by Francesca Martinez

Writer and comedian Francesca Martinez leads an ensemble cast in her debut play, directed by Ian Rickson (Translations). Chris AndersonBryan Dick, Francesca Mills and Wanda Opalinska join the company, alongside Lucy Briers, Crystal Condie and Kevin Hely.   

Set and costume design by Georgia Lowe, lighting design by Anna Watson, composition by Stephen Warbeck, sound design by Gregory Clarke and fight direction by Terry King.

There is a range of accessible performances available for ALL OF US, including captioned, audio-described, relaxed and sensory-adapted performances.

There will be four relaxed performances; these have a more relaxed performance environment, allowing for noise and movement in the auditorium, a chill-out space for patrons who may need time away from the performance, and re-entry when needed. There will be two sensory adapted performances – these will play in a relaxed performance environment and may also include technical changes to the production, such as adjustments to light and sound effects, for those with sensory sensitivities.

More information on relaxed performances for ALL OF US and other productions can be found here.

THE VISIT or THE OLD LADY COMES TO CALL, based on the play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, adapted by Tony Kushner, original English version by Maurice Valency

Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s visionary revenge play is transported into mid-20th century America by Tony Kushner (Angels in America). Jeremy Herrin (People, Places and ThingsThis House) directs Lesley Manville (The Phantom ThreadLong Day’s Journey into Night) as the ruthless heiress and Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) as her former love.

Troy Alexander, Charlotte Asprey, Jason BarnettSam CoxBethan CullinanePaul DoddsRichard Durden, Ian Drysdale, Michael Elcock, Paul Gladwin, Garrick Hagon, Sara KestelmanSimon Markey, Louis Martin, Kevin Mathurin, Joseph Mydell, Stuart Nunn, Simon Startin, Tony Turner, Douglas Walker, Flo Wilson and Nicholas Woodeson also join the cast.  

Set design by Vicki Mortimer and costume design by Moritz Junge. The lighting design is by Paule Constable, movement direction by Aletta Collins, composition by Paul Englishby, sound design by Paul Arditti and music direction by Malcolm Edmonstone.

THE WELKIN, a new play by Lucy Kirkwood

Lucy Kirkwood (MosquitoesChimerica) returns to the National Theatre with her new play, directed by James MacdonaldMaxine Peake (Black MirrorFunny Cow) plays Lizzy, and Ria Zmitrowicz (The Doctor), Sally.

Daneka Etchells, Jenny Galloway, Haydn Gwynne, Zainab Hasan, June Watson, Laurence Ubong Williams, Shaofan Wilson and Hara Yannas join the cast: Natasha CottriallAysha KalaWendy KwehPhilip McGinleyCecilia NobleDawn Sievewright and Brigid Zengeni.

 Set and costume design by Bunny Christie, lighting design by Lee Curran, sound design by Carolyn Downing, movement by Imogen Knight and fight direction by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown of Rc-Annie Ltd.

The Welkin will be streamed as part of National Theatre Live on Thursday 21 May.

This play is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Plays Award. Production supported by the Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater.

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