Player Kings Begins Performances in London's West End April 1 | Playbill

London News Player Kings Begins Performances in London's West End April 1

The adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Henry IV presents Ian McKellen as one of Shakespeare's most popular comic foils, Falstaff.

Ian McKellen and Geoffrey Freshwater in Player Kings Manuel Harlan

Tony winner Ian McKellen has finally assumed the mantle of John Falstaff in Robert Icke's new adaptation of William Shakespeare's Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2.

Running for 12 weeks in the West End at the Noël Coward Theatre, the production began performances April 1, and will continue through June 22. The production previously previewed at the New Wimbledon Theatre, and the Manchester Opera House.

Titled Player Kings, Icke's adaptation reworks the two history plays into a single evening of theatre, which Icke also directs.

Said McKellen in a previous statement, “I decided to become a professional actor at Cambridge in 1959, when I was in John Barton’s undergraduate production of Henry IV. Derek Jacobi played Prince Hal and I was the ancient Justice Shallow. Ever since, the plays have been among my favorite Shakespeares, although through the years I’ve resisted offers to play John Falstaff. Robert Icke’s ingenious adaptation was irresistible.”

McKellen is joined by Toheeb Jimoh (Ted Lasso, Romeo and Juliet) as Hal and Richard Coyle (Ink, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore) as King Henry IV.

Completing the cast are Raphael Akuwudike as Prince John/Second Drawer, Sara Beharrell as Hotspur’s Servant/Snare/Davy, Samuel Edward-Cook as Hotspur/Pistol, Geoffrey Freshwater as Bardolph, James Garnon as Worcester/Silence, Alice Hayes as Messenger/Carrier, Henry Jenkinson as Harcourt, Nigel Lister as Northumberland/Francis, Annette McLaughlin as Warwick, Mark Monero as Peto, Hywel Morgan as Sir Walter Blunt, Joseph Mydell as Lord Chief Justice, Clare Perkins as Mistress Quickly, Daniel Rabin as Poins, David Semark as Vernon, David Shelley as Sheriff/Surrey, Robin Soans as Shallow, Tafline Steen as Tearsheet/Lady Percy, and Perry Williams as Page/Douglas/Thomas.

“It’s a genuine honor to work with one of our greatest Shakespearean actors, Ian McKellen, especially as he tackles one of the most iconic Shakespearean roles—and one he's previously never turned his hand to," Icke said in a previous statement. "It’s an exciting challenge to bring together two of Shakespeare’s plays into one production, and I’m so excited to share Player Kings with audiences in the West End and across the country."

Player Kings features design by Hildegard Bechtler, lighting by Lee Curran, sound by Gareth Fry, casting by Julia Horan, fighting design by Kev McCurdy, and hair and make-up designer Susanna Peretz.

For more information, visit

Photos: Player Kings in the West End

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