Though full of poignant themes of love and loss, King John is one of the least performed of Shakespeare's plays. Popular in the 18th century and famously performed by the founder of RADA, Herbert Beerbohm Tree, it lost appeal over time but seems to be enjoying a recent resurgence. In 2012, Maria Aberg revived it for the RSC with Pippa Nixon in the role of the Bastard.
Revolts, battles and some rousing speeches
King John’s nephew is leading a revolt against him with the help of the King of France. Battles rage until John concedes negotiation. But when he is excommunicated by the Vatican, the Pope encourages France to resume hostilities. The king’s nephew is killed in a fall but John is accused of the boy’s murder. Despite an emissary from the Pope, who tries to prevent ongoing war, the French army no longer obeys. The country is in disarray and the soldiers do not know who to follow. The play contains some of Shakespeare’s most stirring and moving speeches: “Be great in act, as you have been in thought; Let not the world see fear and sad distrust govern the motion of a kingly eye: Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire."
The anniversary of the Magna Carta
This is one of only five plays that Shakespeare wrote entirely in verse. The Globe promises a large company of both actors and musicians and their tour includes a visit to the Holy Sepulchre Church in Northampton, which was a favourite haunt of the real King John. It will be staged to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, a hugely important peace treaty between the king and his people.
“This is a very significant moment for us,” said the Globe’s artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole. “Doing the play that naturally attaches itself to Magna Carta, King John, is finishing a very big jigsaw puzzle that has been growing for 20 years.”
As part of the association with Northampton, the Royal and Derngate’s artistic director James Dacre will direct King John “It speaks quite meaningfully to what it might mean to perform [King John] in an election year.”
Booking opens at 10am on Monday 9th February, 2015.
|What||King John, The Globe|
|Where||The Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Blackfriars (underground)|
01 Jun 15 – 28 Jun 15, Performance times to be confirmed.
|Website||Click here to book via the Globe's website.|