Lonely Planet Writer

London's House of Commons to hold Shakespeare performance for Bard's anniversary

The first ever performance of a Shakespeare play in the House of Commons will take place on the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

House of Commons, Westminster, London. Image by Berit Watkin / CC BY 2.0

Richard II has been adapted for a new Westminster-themed production to be staged on Saturday April 23, four centuries to the day after the world’s most famous playwright died. The performance will see the Duchess of Gloucester re-imagined as the political editor of the BBC, while Bolingbroke poses a challenge to Richard II as leader of the Opposition. Some 100 members of the public will be able to witness William Shakespeare’s debut play in the Palace of Westminster, with tickets distributed through a ballot.

The Woman In Black star Tim Delap will play Richard II, while 3 Winters actress Hermione Gulliford will take on the role of Harri Bolingbroke – re-imagined as a woman. The play is co-directed by Jack Gamble and Quentin Beroud, who said in a statement: “We want to demonstrate the ongoing power of Shakespeare’s writing to speak to new generations and modern concerns. Staging this early masterpiece in Parliament will show how much Shakespeare still has to say about leadership and representation. Reworking Bolingbroke as a powerful female lead will give the play a renewed significance at a time where certain privileges still count for more than they should.

“We are thrilled to be presenting the first full Shakespearian production in the country’s seat of power, and on such a special night. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone taking part and watching.”

:: Richard II runs at the House of Commons on April 23 before transferring to the Arcola Theatre for a week from May 3. Tickets are available by ballot at shakespeareinparliament.com.

(Press Association)