RSC announces four for Hilary Mantel double bill

Published: 6 July 2013
Reporter: Steve Orme

Ben Miles who plays Thomas Cromwell
Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies Credit: Joshua Irandi

Ben Miles will play Thomas Cromwell and Lucy Briers will play Katherine of Aragon in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s double bill of Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.

Miles began his career at the RSC and last performed with the company in The Two Gentlemen of Verona in 1993.

Other theatre credits include Bolingbroke in Shakespeare’s Richard II at the Old Vic in 2005; Man in Mike Bartlett’s My Child at the Royal Court in 2007; and Tom in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests at the Old Vic in 2008.

Lucy Briers will make her RSC debut. Her previous theatre credits include Pope Joan in Out of Joint’s Top Girls; at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2011.

She is currently appearing in BBC2’s new comedy Count Arthur Strong and she also has a part in the Alan Partridge feature film which will be released in August.

Paul Jesson will play Cardinal Wolsey and Nathaniel Parker is Henry VIII in Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.

Jesson’s last appearance at the RSC was as Pandarus in Troilus and Cressida, part of the Complete Works Festival in 2006. His other theatre credits include Sam Mendes’ productions of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and The Cherry Orchard by Chekhov at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York.

Nathaniel Parker appeared in three series of the BBC TV series The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and the television adaptation of Dickens’ Bleak House.

Parker who played Gordon Brown in the West End production of The Audience is back at the RSC after 26 years.

Hilary Mantel said, “It’s very exciting for me to see the characters from the Cromwell novels spring to life, ready for the stage this winter.

“I’m delighted we’ve secured such gifted actors for four of the major figures in the plays, and look forward to meeting the rest of the cast in the near future.”

Director Jeremy Herrin, recently appointed artistic director of Headlong Theatre, added, “I'm delighted to have made such a strong start to assembling a world-class company to deliver these fantastic plays.”

Wolf Hall won the Man Booker in 2009 and Bring Up the Bodies won in 2012, making Mantel the first woman to receive the award twice.

She achieved another first when Bring Up the Bodies won the Costa novel award, the first time one novel has won both the Costa and the Man Booker.

The plays are adapted by Mike Poulton who previously worked with the RSC on projects including The Canterbury Tales.

Wolf Hall will be staged in the Swan at Stratford from 11 December while Bring Up the Bodies opens on 19 December. Both run until 29 March.