Player Kings


ISBN: 9781839043581
Author: By William Shakespeare Adapted by Robert Icke
Publication Date: 2/05/2024
Publisher: Nick Hern Books
Extent: 144pp.
Availability: Available


The crown meets the criminals. Welcome to England.

Hal wasn’t born to be king. Only now, it seems, he will be. His father longs for him to leave behind his friends in the taverns of Eastcheap, most notably the infamous John Falstaff. War is on the horizon. But will Hal ever come good?

Adapted by award-winning writer and director Robert Icke, Player Kings brings together two of Shakespeare’s great history plays, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, in a visionary new version.

It opened at the Noël Coward Theatre, London, in 2024, before embarking on a UK tour. It was directed by Robert Icke, with a cast including Toheeb Jimoh, Richard Coyle and Ian McKellen as Falstaff.

‘Robert Icke is the great hope of British theatre’ Time Out

‘Robert Icke has an uncanny ability to get to the psychological heart of a classic text. [This is] a terrific take on one of the greatest plays ever written’
Time Out

‘A national epic of power-play, racing from tavern to court and field of conflict. It’s as propulsive as The Crown… heart-stopping… a must-witness’

‘Robert Icke, the neon-intellect, rapid-action director, has spliced together the two separate plays of Henry IV to make an epic portrait… striking and unsentimental… devastating’

‘Unforgettable… brings out the subtleties and violence of Shakespeare’s plays’
Financial Times

‘An incisive and intelligent adaptation… This rich, vivid and visceral version of Shakespeare’s Henry IV is at once a skewering of the mythology of Englishness and patriotism, a shrewd overview of the current state of the nation and a piece of premium classical theatre… all conveyed with pin-sharp clarity and an arresting immediacy… Icke delineates the oppositions that Shakespeare set up without labouring the point or simplifying the characters’ complex humanity’
The Stage

‘Richly complex and thrilling’

‘A luxurious feast… full of verve and pathos… Icke is known for his thrilling reinventions or rewrites of classics. Here he neatly streamlines the patriarchal power struggles of part I, by turns raucous and violent, then prunes the waffling jokes and rueful diminuendo of part II… He makes clear how these plays speak to our times’
Evening Standard

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