RSC stages new version of Cicero plays

Steve Orme

Mike Poulton, who adapted Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies for the Royal Shakespeare Company, has turned his pen to ancient Rome with a new version of Robert Harris’s The Cicero Trilogy.

RSC artistic director Gregory Doran will direct the works which will be staged as six plays, presented in two performances, each with two intervals.

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

In Imperium Part II: Dictator, Cicero has retired from politics. He sees Julius Caesar’s assassination 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.

RSC associate artist Richard McCabe plays Marcus Tullius Cicero. He has appeared in countless productions for the company and 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 Cicero’s spirited wife Terentia as well as taking the roles of 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), 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).

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.

Both plays run in the Swan Theatre at Stratford, Part I: Conspirator starting on Thursday 16 November and Part II: Dictator on Thursday 23 November. Press performances will be on Thursday 7 December. They run until Saturday 10 February 2018.