RSC casts world première of Hamnet

Published: 1 March 2023
Reporter: Steve Orme

The company of Hamnet outside Anne Hathaway’s cottage at Shottery, Stratford Credit: Simon Hadley

Tom Varey and Madeleine Mantock will make their Royal Shakespeare Company debuts as William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway in the world première of Hamnet.

Lolita Chakrabarti’s adaptation of Maggie O’Farrell’s novel will mark the official reopening of the newly restored Swan Theatre, Stratford which has been closed for three years. The production has sold out.

Varey played Ollie Olsen in Moisés Kaufman’s adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s One Arm at Southwark Playhouse in 2015 and Peter in A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney at Trafalgar Studios in 2020.

Mantock made her West End stage debut in 2021 playing Elvira in Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

Peter Wight returns to the RSC for the first time since 1997 to play John and Will Kempe. He has appeared on many stages including the National Theatre and in 2017 he took the role of Polonius in Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre.

The company also 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).

Chakrabarti said, “writing this play was made even more challenging due to the huge impact Maggie O’Farrell’s novel has had. It’s a great privilege to look at the Shakespeares through my detailed research and personal lens. The woman behind the playwright is a fascinating character and after studying Maggie’s book, it’s clear to me that her son was the inspiration for one of our greatest pieces of English literature.”

Hamnet will be directed by Erica Whyman, the RSC’s acting artistic director. The production will feature set and costume design by Tom Piper, lighting by Prema Mehta, sound by Xana, music by Oğuz Kaplangi, movement by Ayse Tashkiran and fights by Kate Waters.

Hamnet will run in the Swan Theatre from Saturday 1 April until Saturday 17 June.

    Related listings

  • Hamnet - Maggie O'Farrell, adapted by Lolita Chakrabarti (Royal Shakespeare Company and Neal Street Productions, in association with Hera Pictures)

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