David Tennant to play Richard II for the Royal Shakespeare Company


David Tennant is to star in the title role of Richard II as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's new season.

The actor is making a return to the RSC five years after his critically-acclaimed performance as Hamlet.

It is the company's first season under artistic director Gregory Doran, who took over from Michael Boyd last year.

Other highlights of the winter 2013 run include adaptations of Hilary Mantel's award-winning Thomas Cromwell novels, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies.

There will also be a world premiere of Ella Hickson's Wendy and Peter Pan, directed by Jonathan Munby.

Richard II marks the start of a run of Shakespeare's history plays, each of which will be directed by Doran.

Speaking at at Wednesday's season launch in London, Doran told the BBC he thought that Richard II could be "almost a bigger challenge" for Tennant than Hamlet.

One of the triumphs of Tennant's Hamlet, he pointed out, had been his exploration of the humorous side of the role.

"Richard II can seem like a paean of self-pity," Doran said. "I think David will find it quite hard that, for a lot of the play, the audience don't like this self-indulgent, self-obsessed creature that Richard seems to be."

The production will run in Stratford-Upon-Avon's Royal Shakespeare Theatre in October and November, transferring to the Barbican Theatre in London in December.

The RSC quit the Barbican arts complex in 2002, after 20 years in residence.

Doran said he knew the return to the Barbican would cause "endless speculation" but said there had been no talks about a permanent return.

Since leaving the Barbican, the RSC has not had a permanent home in London. It has used other venues, including The Roundhouse, while its hit musical Matilda has been at Covent Garden's Cambridge Theatre for more than a year.

"We are a national company and it is absolutely vital that we are seen in the nation's capital," Doran said.

He added that a variety of options - "some very surprising" - were up for discussion.

"An automatic move back to the Barbican without exploring the reality of a theatre that can accommodate all our work is not something that I would contemplate immediately."

He recalled that his predecessor Michael Boyd had made a guarantee that the RSC would be turning the keys to its new London home in 2016. "I can't make that guarantee, but I can say it's a very good ambition."



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