Full casting for Ben Elton’s stage adaption of the critically acclaimed BBC TV sitcom Upstart Crow – which opens at the Gielgud Theatre on 7 February 2020 and will see David Mitchell make his West End debut – has been announced.
Joining Mitchell as Will Shakespeare and Gemma Whelan as Kate, in bringing their TV characters to life on stage is Helen Monks (Raised by Wolves / Inside No. 9) as Susanna, Rob Rouse (Grownups) as Bottom and Steve Speirs (Stella / Rovers) as Burbage. Mark Heap (Friday Night Dinner / Spaced) who TV viewers will know as Robert Greene, will play a new character, Dr John Hall.
Also joining the cast is Danielle Phillips (Ready Player One / Father Brown), Jason Callender (Shadow and Bone / 4 O’Clock Club) and Rachel Summers (This Islands Mine). This 11-week season is directed by Olivier award-winning Sean Foley (The Ladykillers, Jeeves and Wooster and The Miser).
Ben Elton says: “Besides Will and Kate many of the other characters from the TV sitcom feature in this new play and I’m delighted that they will all be played by the original actors. Steve Speirs returns as Burbage the Actor, no doubt relishing the extra opportunity that live theatre offers for serious shouting and strutting. Hilarious Helen Monks is back as Shakespeare’s grumpy daughter Susanna. Top comic Rob Rouse will once again have us laughing at his Bottom and the show stopping Mark Heap who played Robert Greene is returnED in villainous guise! Gotta say, the brilliant new actors who are joining Upstart Crow for the first time will have to really pull up their puffling pants if they don’t want to get upstaged!”
‘Tis 1605 and England’s greatest playwright is in trouble. Will Shakespeare has produced just two plays; Measure for Measure, which according to King James was incomprehensible bollingbrokes by any measure, and All’s Well That End’s Well which didn’t even end well. Will desperately needs to maketh a brilliant new play to bolster his reputation and avoid being cast aside by King and country. But Will’s personal life is encountering more dramatic twists and turns than any theatrical story he can conjure. How the futtock can a Bard be expected to find a plot for a play whilst his daughters run amok and his house is used as refuge for any old waif and stray. As time runs out, can Will hold on to his dream of being recognised now and for all time, as indisputably the greatest writer that ever lived, or will family woes thwart Will’s chances of producing his masterwork?