RSC goes for six appeal with Cicero trilogy

Steve Orme

Royal Shakespeare Company associate artists Richard McCabe and Siobhan Redmond will appear in the RSC adaptation of Robert Harris’s Cicero novels Imperium Part I: Conspirator and Imperium Part II: Dictator in the Swan Theatre, Stratford.

The novels have been adapted as six plays which will be presented in two performances each with two intervals. RSC artistic director Gregory Doran directs.

McCabe will play Marcus Tullius Cicero. He was last with the RSC as an older Romeo opposite Kathryn Hunter in Ben Power’s A Tender Thing in 2012. He won both Tony and Olivier awards for his performance as Harold Wilson opposite Helen Mirren in Peter Morgan’s play The Audience at the Gielgud Theatre in 2013.

Siobhan Redmond will play opposite him as Cicero’s spirited wife Terentia as well as playing Calpurnia and Servilia. She was Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing for the RSC in 1996, Maria in Twelfth Night in 2007 and Gruach in David Greig’s Dunsinane in 2010.

The cast also includes Nicholas Boulton (Celer / Cassius), Guy Burgess (Sura / Lepidus), Daniel Burke (Sosithius / Marcus), Jade Croot (Tullia), Peter De Jersey (Caesar / Calenus), Joe Dixon (Cataline / Antony), John Dougall (Lucullus / Brutus / Suca / Lepidus), Michael Grady Hall (Cato / Hirtius), Oliver Johnstone (Rufus / Octavian), Paul Kemp (Quintus), Joseph Kloska (Tiro), Patrick Knowles (Cethegus / Dolabella), Hywel Morgan (Hybrida / Popilius), Lily Nichol (Pompeia / Flavia), Piero Niel Mee (Clodius / Agrippa), David Nicolle (Crassus / Pansa), Patrick Romer (Isauricus / Piso), Jay Saighal (Numitorius / Decimus), Christopher Saul (Pompey / Murena / Trebonius / Isauricus Jnr), Eloise Secker (Clodia / Fulvia) and Simon Thorp (Catulus / Casca).

In Part I: Conspirator, Cicero is elected consul by a unanimous vote of the Roman people. Catiline, his aristocratic rival, is furious in defeat and refuses to accept the results of the election. He swears a blood oath to destroy Cicero and take Rome by force.

In Part II: Dictator, Cicero has retired from politics. Julius Caesar, dictator and commander of Rome’s armies, is assassinated. Cicero sees his death as an opportunity to restore the republic but the assassins, Brutus and Cassius, dither as power in Rome begins to fall into the lap of Mark Antony.

Robert Harris’s novels have been adapted by Mike Poulton who adapted Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies for the RSC in 2013.

The productions are designed by Anthony Ward with lighting by Mark Henderson. Music is composed by Paul Englishby with sound by Claire Windsor. Movement is by Anna Morrissey and voice work by Kate Godfrey.

Imperium Part I: Conspirator runs in the Swan Theatre from 16 November. Part II Dictator starts on 23 November. Press performances will be held on Thursday 7 December. They run until 10 February 2018.

Meanwhile, Gemma Brockis and Wendy Hubbard will present a new devised piece, Kingdom Come, for the RSC’s Mischief Festival. The cast includes Nigel Barrett, Emmanuella Cole, Lucy Ellinson, Solomon Israel, Tom Lyall and Madeleine Worrall.

Kingdom Come is set in 1640. England, Ireland and Scotland are on the brink of civil war. The puritan state starts to tighten its grip and making theatre could soon be a capital offence.

The play runs in The Other Place, Stratford from Thursday 7 September until Saturday 30 September and will be accompanied by a series of talks and events. The press performance will be on Monday 11 September.