by James Shirley
“All great men know, the soul of life is fame.”
The state of Navarre is in crisis. An unscrupulous Cardinal has the ear of the King and is hungry for power. The Duchess Rosaura longs to marry the Count D’Alvarez, but the Cardinal wants her for his brutish nephew. To tighten his grip on the Kingdom, the ruthless Cardinal will stop at nothing to secure the marriage. But in the Duchess it seems he has finally met his match…
Hailed as James Shirley’s tragic masterpiece, The Cardinal (1641) was one of the last plays staged in England before Oliver Cromwell’s ban on theatre. With remarkably lucid and fast-paced dialogue, it is the captivating story of a religious monster and his relentless pursuit of power.
Starring Stephen Boxer (King Lear, National Theatre) and Natalie Simpson (King Lear, Hamlet and Cymbeline, Royal Shakespeare Company), directed by Justin Audibert (Snow in Midsummer and The Jew of Malta, Royal Shakespeare Company) and produced by Troupe (After October, Flowering Cherry and The White Carnation, Finborough Theatre).
The Press on actors Stephen Boxer and Natalie Simpson:
‘Stephen Boxer is superb…combining grief and courage with moments of farcical humour.’ The Telegraph on Titus Andronicus
‘The performances are terrific, though, with Natalie Simpson … as a piercingly distraught Ophelia’ The Independent on Hamlet
The Press on director Justin Audibert:
‘Justin Audibert’s exemplary period-dressed revival.’ The Telegraph on The Jew of Malta
‘Director Justin Audibert steers a clear and confident course … a quiet revolution in Stratford’ Evening Standard on Snow in Midsummer
The Press on producer Troupe:
‘An ebullient production of infectious energy.’ Evening Standard on After October
‘It is a mystery why this play has not seen the light of day in London…engaging and fast-paced.’ The Independent on After October
Post Show Talk
Tuesday 2nd May 10pm
The Cardinal’s author James Shirley (1596-1666) was the last of the great Elizabethan dramatists linking the Golden Age with the period of the Restoration and the most prolific and highly regarded dramatist during the reign of King Charles I. The Cardinal was one of the last plays staged before Oliver Cromwell’s ban on theatre in 1642. At our post-show Q&A, Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock), founder of MyTheatreMates, StageFaves and WhatsOnStage, talks to director Justin Audibert, stars Stephen Boxer and Natalie Simpson and members of the Troupe company about the historical context of Shirley and his tragic masterpiece and how the play resonates today.