Michael Gambon to Play Falstaff at London's National Theatre

Stage and screen star Michael Gambon is to play one of Shakespeare's most enduring  and best-loved characters: the liar, cheat and coward, Falstaff.

In Henry IV Parts I and II, Gambon will be directed by the National's artistic director, Nicholas Hytner. The plays will be the first two productions in the National's £10-per-ticket season for spring 2005. Gambon was most recently seen on the London stage playing opposite Lee Evans in Matthew Warchus' critically acclaimed production of Beckett's Endgame.

The innovative low-ticket price policy — made possible by the sponsorship of Travelex — was launched in 2003 with Hytner's modern production of Henry V, starring Adrian Lester in the title role.

The success of the £10 scheme is a defining characteristic of the Hytner regime, attracting younger and more diverse audiences to the National Theatre.