James Shirley’s rarely seen, 1641 tragic masterpiece, THE CARDINAL , comes to Southwark Playhouse in a new production starring Stephen Boxer and Natalie Simpson and directed by Justin Audibert.
“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…
THE CARDINAL 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.
The 11-strong cast is led by Stephen Boxer (King Lear, National Theatre) and Natalie Simpson (King Lear, Hamlet and Cymbeline, Royal Shakespeare Company). THE CARDINAL is 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).
Playwright James Shirley was born in London in 1596. He 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, writing 31 plays, three masques, and three moral allegories. He is best remembered for his comedies of fashionable London life, including The Witty Fair One (1628), Hyde Park (1632) and The Lady of Pleasure (1635), which depict a leisured, courtly society at love and play and look forward to the achievements of Restoration comedy. His best tragedies, both on dark, Italianate themes, are The Traitor (1631) and The Cardinal (1641).
For THE CARDINAL post-show Q&A on Tuesday 2 May 2o17, I’ll be joined by director Justin Audibert, stars Stephen Boxer and Natalie Simpson and other members of the cast.