Two men sit on stage one in a thrown the other crouched beside, talking intently

King John

William Shakespeare

King John, believed to be written around the 1590s, is one of Shakespeare’s least performed plays. The story explores inheritance and illegitimacy and the subsequent political deals and struggle for power.

Past productions

Our productions of King John have included several famous actors playing the title role, including Patrick Stewart in 1970, Emrys James in 1974 and Richard McCabe in 2006.

  • Maria Aberg’s 2012 production saw Alex Waldmann take the role of King John and Pippa Nixon as the Bastard. See the King John 2012 production page for pictures and more.
  • In 2006, director Josie Rourke brought the play back to the Swan Theatre, with Richard McCabe in the title role and Tamsin Greig as Constance, mother of the doomed Arthur.
  • Gregory Doran worked with designer Stephen Brimson Lewis on his satirical 2001 production that premiered in the Swan Theatre, with Guy Henry as King John.
  • The 1988 production from director Deborah Warner featured Nicholas Woodeson as King John and Ralph Fiennes as Lewis the Dauphin. It played in The Other Place before transferring to the Pit in London and Gulbenkian Studio in Newcastle the following year.
  • In 1974, Artistic Director John Barton brought King John to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Aldwych in London with Emrys James in the title role. David Suchet also featured as Hubert and Jeffery Dench as Cardinal Pandulph.
  • In 1970, director Buzz Goodbody took King John to London and on tour, with Patrick Stewart in the title role.
A king is crowned on his throne as he holds a sceptre and ball aloft.
Richard McCabe as King John, 2006.
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