Michael Gambon Is Falstaff in Nicholas Hytner Henry IV, Starting at London's National April 16

By Robert Simonson
April 16, 2005

Nicholas Hytner began his National Theatre tenure with a much-praised production of Shakespeare’s Henry V starring Adrian Lester. Now he’s to turn to the prequels, the two parts of Henry IV, Parts One and Two, with the vaunted Michael Gambon as the fat knight, Falstaff.

David Bradley, who played Justice Shallow opposite Robert Stephens’ Falstaff for the Royal Shakespeare Company, returns to the plays, this time as Henry IV. Meanwhile, John Wood will be Shallow (luxury casting in the small role as Wood is a one-time RSC King Lear, also for Hytner). David Harewood — a previous NT Othello — has been cast as the macho Hotspur. And, Matthew Macfayden, a rising star in the U.K. thanks to his starring role in the TV drama of the moment, “Spooks,” is down for Prince Hal.

This is the first production of these plays ever at the National. Mark Thompson designs. The cast also includes Thomas Arnold, Robert Blythe, Susan Brown, John Carlisle, Naomi Frederick, Ian Gelder, Darren Hart, Jeffery Kissoon, Elliot Levey, Robert Lister, Iain Mitchell, Eve Myles, Harry Peacock, Alistair Petrie, Samuel Roukin, Adrian Scarborough, Roger Sloman, Rupert Ward-Lewis, Anderw Westfield and Danny Worters.

The show will play the Olivier in rep, as part of the Travelex ten pounds season, beginning April 26 and running through August.

The production officially opens May 4.

New York recently saw a rare staging of the history plays, with Kevin Kline as Falstaff and Ethan Hawke as Hotspur.