World of shipwrecks on horizon

By IH 06/02 Updated: 22/02 09:01

Buy photos » Celebrated Palestinian actor Amer Hlehel makes his RSC debut. (s)

A WORLD of shipwrecks, grief, laughter, love and reunion are created in the first RSC productions in the World Shakespeare festival.

A trilogy of plays - The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night and The Tempest – go under the banner What Country Friends is This? Led by RSC Associate Director David Farr, the ensemble company will explore migration, exile, and the discovery of brave new worlds. All three cross-cast productions will share the same creative team and play in repertoire in the RST.

Farr said of the trilogy: “In this shipwreck trilogy we are exploring the recurrent obsessions of Shakespeare with migration, exile and the discovery of yourself through others.

"Amir Nizar Zuabi (directing The Comedy of Errors) and I are both keen to interrogate these in a modern context and we have chosen to use a shared design environment (by Jon Bausor) to do so.

"In these plays again and again Shakespeare returns to the image of man or woman as a drop in the ocean seeking another drop. He describes love and passion as being like the sea, and he sees in shipwreck the destruction and the revival of the self. For a man who appears never to have left his country he travelled far in his imagination.

"I look forward to continuing that journey with the wonderful cast we have with us, from great RSC actors such as Jon Slinger and Nick Day to the unique Palestinian performer Amer Hlehel.”

Slinger continues with the RSC, taking on three roles - as Dr Pinch in The Comedy of Errors, Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Prospero in The Tempest. He previously played major roles in Michael Boyd’s History Cycle in 2008/9 and most recently played the title role in Boyd’s production of Macbeth in the RST, and Lenny in The Homecoming in the Swan.

Emily Taaffe makes her RSC debut as Viola in Twelfth Night and Miranda in The Tempest. Her most recent theatre roles were for the National Theatre in The Veil, The Cherry Orchard and Nation. She has also appeared in The Borgias on television.

Amer Hlehel makes his RSC debut, coming from Palestine where he works with the ShiberHur company. He has appeared in Zuabi’s recent productions at the Young Vic and has also appeared in Palestinian films.

The Comedy of Errors - mistaken identity follows the fortunes of two sets of identical twins, accidentally separated at birth, then miraculously thrown together again - plays from March 16 to May 14 and July 16 to October 6.

David Farr directs both Twelfth Night, running from March 8 to May 15, and July 12 to October 6, and The Tempest, from March 30 to May 19, and July 13 to October 7.

Shipwrecked on the shores of a strange land, in Twelfth Night Viola believes her twin brother Sebastian drowned. Disguising herself as a boy to work in the court of Duke Orsino, she finds herself a go-between for the man she serves and the woman who refuses to love him.

The Tempest finds Prospero usurped from his position as Duke of Milan and cast away with his daughter Miranda to a remote island. Twelve years later, and intent on revenge, he raises a magical tempest that shipwrecks his enemies on his shores.

Visit for further details on the World Shakespeare festival.

For tickets visit or call the box office on 0844 800 1110.

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