Peter Whelan’s The Herbal Bed, the story of how Shakespeare’s daughter was put on trial for adultery, is set for a national tour after opening at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate next February.
The co-production, from the R & D, English Touring Theatre and Rose Theatre, Kingston, is based upon real events from Stratford-upon-Avon in the summer of 1613.
The Herbal Bed is an emotional thriller recounting the public trial of Shakespeare’s daughter. Accused of adultery with her neighbour, Susanna and her husband fall under the glare of intense public scrutiny as they sue her accuser for slander.
A powerful exposé of the contradiction between human desire and social convention which seeks to repress it, Whelan’s moving and uplifting play provides a beautiful evocation of life in 17th century England.
It was first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company before transferring to the West End and Broadway.
Director of English Touring Theatre, Rachel Tackley said: “When I first read The Herbal Bed, I thought it was the perfect project for English Touring Theatre to produce.
“I had seen James Dacre’s masterful production of Peter Whelan’s Accrington Pals and thought he would be perfect to direct it.
“I am really excited to collaborate with Royal & Derngate and the Rose and to take this beautiful play to audiences across the UK on its first ever tour.”
Director James Dacre said: “In the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death, Royal & Derngate are thrilled to be partnering with ETT and the Rose to produce a play about his family, set during the final chapter of his life.
“This production also celebrates the legacy of another great playwright, Peter Whelan. I was lucky enough to work with Peter and to benefit from his great wisdom and warmth shortly before he died last year.
“This revival of The Herbal Bed, his most influential play, is a tribute to his enduring relevance as a playwright.
“A moving and uplifting story, it is a gripping thriller, a prescient social commentary and an extraordinary romance.”
2016 Tour Listings
February 5-27, Royal & Derngate
February 29-March 5, Cambridge Arts Theatre
March 7-12, Liverpool Playhouse
March 14-19, Exeter Northcott Theatre
March 21-26, Brighton Theatre Royal
March 28-April 2, The Lowry, Salford
April 11-16, Theatre Royal Bath
April 18-23, Oxford Playhouse
April 26-May 7, Rose Theatre, Kingston.