Bridgerton's Jonathan Bailey to star as Richard II on London stage

Virgin Radio

21 Jun 2024, 15:02

Credit: Netflix/Getty

The star’s most regal Shakespeare role to date!

The dashing Jonathan Bailey, known for making hearts flutter as Lord Anthony Bridgerton, is set to swap Regency romance for royal drama.

Bailey will play the title role in a new production of Shakespeare's Richard II, directed by the illustrious Nicholas Hytner at the Bridge Theatre in London.



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This role marks Bailey’s most significant foray into the Bard's works to date, reuniting him with Hytner, who previously directed him as Cassio in a 2013 version of Othello at the National Theatre.

Bailey also showcased his Shakespearean chops as Edgar in King Lear at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 2017, starring opposite the legendary Ian McKellen.

With such a stellar Shakespearean resume, fans are eager to see how he tackles the complex, introspective role of Richard II.

Currently, the rising star is balancing a jam-packed schedule.

Before stepping onto the stage in February, Bailey is deep in production for the latest Jurassic World film.

Dinosaurs one minute, Shakespearean monarchs the next – talk about versatility! He’s also prepping for the press tour of the much-anticipated Wicked movie, in which he portrays Fiyero.

Bailey’s career continues to soar post-Bridgerton. He recently wowed audiences in the acclaimed TV miniseries Fellow Travelers, playing Timothy Laughlin, a congressional staffer navigating a tumultuous romance with Matt Bomer’s character, Hawkins Fuller, in the politically charged 1950s.

It seems our dear Bailey has a knack for playing characters caught in the throes of intense, era-defining love affairs.

Director Hytner’s vision for Richard II is ambitious and intriguing. Eschewing the immersive style of his previous Shakespearean productions like A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Julius Caesar, Hytner plans to stage Richard II in a 'cross between in-the-round and traverse' format.

“Richard II has a delicacy and interiority that isn’t going to respond to that kind of treatment,” Hytner explained.

This production promises to delve deep into the psyche of a troubled king, making it an introspective journey for the audience as well.

Hytner elaborated on the play’s themes, describing it as an exploration of leadership and legitimacy.

“What do you do when a ruler is absolutely inadequate? How do you get rid of the rightful leader?” he pondered.

Shakespeare's nuanced writing leaves these questions open, allowing audiences to grapple with the moral complexities of power and governance.

“On the one hand, the play endorses Richard’s right to rule and on the other hand it appears to endorse [his adversary] Bolingbroke’s greater capacity to rule,” Hytner said, highlighting the play's rich ambiguity.

Adding to the excitement, Hytner revealed that the play will examine 'a feudal world on the cusp of modernity.'

It's a setting that perfectly complements Bailey’s modern yet timeless charm.

With Bailey’s star power and Hytner’s directorial genius, this production of Richard II promises to be a must-see theatrical event.

Performances of Richard II will begin at the Bridge on 10 February 2025.