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Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies

RSCProducers Playful Productions and the Royal Shakespeare Company announce that the Royal Shakespeare Company productions of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies will transfer to the West End.

Director Jeremy Herrin’s productions of Mike Poulton’s dramatisations have met with universal critical and public acclaim.

Hilary Mantel’s novels about Cromwell’s life in the Tudor court have captured the public’s imagination, becoming international best sellers. The books have sold a staggering 1.8 million copies in the UK and 1.2 million copies in the US.

Many of the RSC company will transfer to the West End including Ben Miles as Cromwell, Nathaniel Parker as Henry VIII, Lydia Leonard as Anne Boleyn, Paul Jesson as Cardinal Wolsey and Lucy Briers as Katherine of Aragon.

Public Booking opens at 10am on Monday 10 March with RSC Members Priority Booking opening today at 10am.

Playful Productions and the Royal Shakespeare Company are delighted to announce that the sell-out productions of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies will transfer to the Aldwych Theatre from 1 May for a strictly limited season until 6 September.   RSC Members Priority Booking opens at 10am on Thursday 6 March.  Public Booking opens at 10am on Monday 10 March.

Hilary Mantel’s enormously popular books have been adapted for the first time for the stage in two parts by Mike Poulton. The adaptations were commissioned by Playful Productions who worked in collaboration with the RSC to bring them to the stage. Directed by Jeremy Herrin, the productions have been met with universal acclaim with tickets quickly selling out at the Swan Theatre in Stratford–upon-Avon. These two plays tell the compelling story of the political rise to power of Thomas Cromwell from blacksmith’s boy to Henry VIII’s right hand man, and have been playing in repertoire since December.

Of the transfer, Hilary Mantel said: “I am, I think, currently the luckiest author in the world. When my novel Wolf Hall was published in 2009, it was awarded a Man Booker prize and brought me a legion of keen readers worldwide. Its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, won a second Man Booker and the Costa prize. Could life get better?

She added: “It could. Brilliantly adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton, my Tudor tales are enjoying a spectacular run in Stratford-upon-Avon. Each night, at the Swan Theatre, we have the privilege of setting our funny, fast, harrowing plays before audiences who are provoked, exhilarated and moved. Jeremy Herrin directs a clever, committed cast, headed by Ben Miles as the sardonic and constantly surprising Thomas Cromwell. In their glowing costumes, against a stark background, lapped by flames and falling snow, our company recreates the court of Henry VIII, its brief love affairs and brutal power games, its dances and masques, weddings and executions.

To walk into a theatre where every seat is taken is a special experience. Now we have the chance to bring the plays to a wider audience. We are thrilled that our London base is to be the Aldwych, once the home of the RSC, a theatre that will provide a showcase for this unique project. We hope to delight our London audiences this spring as we have delighted our Stratford audiences through the winter. Meanwhile, in the pages of my third book, steadily richer and more ruthless, more ingenious and more haunted, Thomas Cromwell remains a work in progress…

Mike Poulton commented: “Hilary and I have been at work on Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies for over three years and we’re still at it. It has been an extremely happy and close collaboration.  We’re constantly asked if there have been difficulties – tensions – in our working relationship and we’ve become almost apologetic in having to confess that there have been none. Absolutely none. Tickets for the Stratford run sold like wildfire – which was humbling. The London transfer is a relief to us all. And for me the Aldwych is the perfect theatre because of all its connections with the RSC – it feels like coming home.”

Jeremy Herrin said: “I’m delighted to be working with this great ensemble to deliver these entertaining adaptations of Hilary’s phenomenal novels to a new audience in a new space. The Aldwych is a theatre that I’ve always wanted to work in so it’s a privilege to be able to do so with such exhilarating material. I can’t wait to show London how thrilling and current the story of Thomas Cromwell is.

Gregory Doran, Artistic Director, and Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director, of the Royal Shakespeare Company said: “From first reading Hilary’s incredible books we knew they would make gripping theatrical events, and that great creative skill and imagination would be required to make that possible.  It is with huge pleasure we have seen them crafted by Mike Poulton and Hilary herself and directed by Jeremy Herrin to become the current ‘must see’ shows of our winter season. One of the RSC’s most important roles is to nurture epic, complex and ambitious work and to support it with superlative acting, attention to detail and the excellent stagecraft you can see in these productions. We are very proud of them. ”

Doran further added: “Following the tremendous success of Matilda The Musical, which started out in our Courtyard Theatre and is now thrilling audiences in the West End and on Broadway, and our recent sell-out residency with Richard II at the Barbican, we are delighted that we can give audiences in London the opportunity to see work made in Stratford-upon-Avon for our Swan Theatre. We are so pleased that Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies have found an ideal London home at the Aldwych Theatre.   Co-produced with the expertise of Playful Productions, we hope both productions will have a very happy life in the West End.

Matthew Byam Shaw, of Playful Productions said: “After four years of developing Hilary’s magnificent books into plays, everyone at Playful Productions is delighted to have finally found a jewel of a London theatre to present the RSC’s wonderful productions in.

Wolf Hall won the Man Booker in 2009, and Bring Up the Bodies won in 2012, making Hilary Mantel the first woman ever to have received the award twice, and the first person to win the prize for two consecutive novels of the same series. She achieved another first recently when Bring Up the Bodies also won the Costa Novel Award, the first time the same novel has won both this and the Man Booker.


Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies
A new dramatisation of Hilary Mantel’s novels by Mike Poulton
Directed by Jeremy Herrin
Designed by Christopher Oram
Lighting Design for Wolf Hall is by Paule Constable
Lighting Design for Bring Up the Bodies is by David Plater
Music is by Stephen Warbeck
Sound Design is by Nick Powell
Movement is by Siân Williams
Fights by Bret Yount
Casting is by Helena Palmer CDG

Aldwych Theatre
1st May – 6th September 2014
Press Performances: Saturday 17 May 2014 at 2pm and 7.30pm
Public Booking opens Monday 10 March
Box Office: 0844 4539025

Performance Times: Monday to Saturday evenings 7.30pm. Wednesday and Saturday matinees 2pm
Running Times: Wolf Hall 2 hours 50 minutes, Bring Up the Bodies 2 hours 50 minutes

Updated Monday 10th March 2014


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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