After a sell-out run at Stratford-Upon-Avon, award-winning British Indian playwright Lolita Chakrabarti’s adaptation of Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘Hamnet’ is all set for its West End run from the end of this month.
‘Hamnet’, a story inspired by the son of the renowned 16th century playwright and poet William Shakespeare, has sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide and was named both Waterstones Book of the Year and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2020. The novel also saw O’Farrell named the winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, the UK's most prestigious annual book award celebrating and honouring fiction written by women. As the No. 1 Sunday Times Bestseller in 2021, ‘Hamnet’ was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and British Book awards ‘Fiction Book of the Year’.
After breaking box office records at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) Swan Theatre with a much-talked-about theatrical outing, the play will open to one of the biggest advances of any production at the Garrick Theatre in London. So much so that RSC and Neal Street Productions, in association with Hera Pictures, recently announced an extension to the West End staging, which is now booking until mid-February 2024.
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Directed by Erica Whyman, the play is described as a love letter to passion, birth, grief and the magic of nature. The setting is Warwickshire 1582. Agnes Hathaway, a natural healer, meets the Latin tutor, William Shakespeare. Drawn together by powerful but hidden impulses, they create a life together and make a family. As William moves to London to discover his place in the world of theatre, Agnes stays at home to raise their three children, but she is the constant presence and purpose of his life.
When the plague steals 11-year-old Hamnet from his loving parents, they must each confront their loss alone. And yet, out of the greatest suffering, something of extraordinary wonder is born.
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The London production features lighting by Prema Mehta, set and costume design by Tom Piper, music by Oğuz Kaplangi, sound design by Simon Baker, movement by Ayse Tashkiran, dramaturgy by Pippa Hill, fights by Kate Waters and casting by Amy Ball CDG.