What a great summer of theatre this is for Hobbit fans in the London area! Not only is Richard Armitage appearing in The Crucible at The Old Vic; Middle-earth lovers can also see Bilbo himself, Martin Freeman, starring as Richard III at Trafalgar Studios. This promises to be a thrilling, visceral production; director Jamie Lloyd last year staged Macbeth (with James McAvoy), in a production which a reviewer described as ‘a gripping and genuinely startling production’. For this staging of Richard III, audience members have apparently been warned that the front rows might get splashed with blood! The official press release describes the play thus:
“In the aftermath of civil war, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, makes a hateful resolution to claw his way to political power at any cost. A master of manipulation, subtle wit and beguiling charm, he orchestrates his unlawful ascent by spinning a ruthless web of deceit and betrayal. His staunch ambition soon begins to weigh heavy, as the new ruler finds himself utterly alone and steeped in dread, forced to answer for his bloody deeds and face the horrifying consequences.”
This is a welcome return to the stage for Freeman, and – as this interview reported – his first professional Shakespearean role. Here’s some more information from the press release:
“Gina McKee (Di & Viv & Rose, King Lear, Ivanov, Our Friends In The North, Notting Hill) will play Queen Elizabeth, alongside the previously announced Martin Freeman (Clybourne Park, The Hobbit, Sherlock, Fargo) as Richard III in Jamie Lloyd’s first production of his second season at Trafalgar Transformed, Richard III, running from 1 July to 27 September, with press night on 8 July.
Additional casting includes Alasdair Buchan (Ensemble), Simon Coombs (Tyrrel), Philip Cumbus (Richmond), Madeleine Harland (Ensemble), Julie Jupp (Ensemble), Gerald Kyd (Catesby), Joshua Lacey (Rivers), Paul Leonard (Stanley), Gabrielle Lloyd (Duchess of York), Forbes Masson (Hastings), Paul McEwan (King Edward IV/Bishop of Ely), Mark Meadows (Clarence/Lord Mayor), Vinta Morgan (Edward of Lancaster/Ensemble), Lauren O’Neil (Lady Anne), Maggie Steed (Queen Margaret) and Jo Stone-Fewings (Buckingham).
Design is by award-winning Soutra Gilmour, who previously collaborated with Jamie Lloyd on the first Trafalgar Transformed season. Lighting design is by Charles Balfour, with sound & music by Ben and Max Ringham and fights by Kate Waters.
Once again, the Trafalgar Transformed season will offer £15 Monday tickets for all productions, applicable on all seating within the theatre, further encouraging first-time theatregoers to experience the exciting programming at the venue. The production will be accompanied by a programme of Traf Extras, including fiery debates, post-show Q&As and rehearsed readings.
Martin Freeman was last on stage in 2010 in the critically acclaimed Clybourne Park at the Royal Court, directed by Dominic Cooke.”
Freeman chatted about returning to ‘tread the boards’ on Graham Norton’s radio show last Saturday – you can listen to that here. Tickets for Richard III can be purchased by clicking here. We hope to bring you a review on TORn – but meanwhile, if you’re lucky enough to get along to see it, do let us know what you think! (And just remember not to clap too loudly at the wrong moments...!)