About the showMark Rylance returns to the West End to star in Claire Van Kampen’s hit Globe play Farinelli and the King. The play enjoyed a critically acclaimed sell out season at The Globe’s indoor space The Sam Wanamaker Play House earlier this year. Claire Van Kampen is a playwright and composer and this production is her first as a playwright.
Set in 18th century Spain the play delves into the relationship between King Philippe V (Rylance) and celebrated castrato singer Farinelli. The Queen summons Farinelli in the hope that his beautiful voice will cure the Kings depression and relive him of his insomnia. Philippe is captivated by Farinelli’s voice and begs him to stay with disastrous consequences for the singer. The play seeks to answer the question of why Farinelli would turn his back on stardom for a life of solitude in the King’s court?
The show features a number of the arias first sung by Farinelli in the 1730s and music played live on Baroque instruments.
The play stars Van Kampen’s husband Mark Rylance an Olivier and Tony Award winning actor and former artistic director of The Globe. He is considered to be one of the finest actors working today. Rylance is famed for his career defining performance as Johnny Byron in Jez Butterworth’s smash hit play Jerusalem. Rylance has recently been seen starring as Thomas Cromwell alongside Damian Lewis in the BBC’s adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall; for which Van Kampen wrote the Tudor music. This production marks Rylance’s first return to the West End stage since 2012’s all male productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night which also transferred from the Globe.
Original cast member Sam Crane stars as Farinelli, alongside Rylance with Huss Garbiya, Melody Grove, Colin Hurley and Edward Peel also reprising their roles. Crane has recently been seen starring in Headlong’s production of 1984 in the West End. Opera star Iestyn Davies also returns in the singing role, which will be shared with Rupert Enticknap and Owen Willetts.
The production is directed by John Dove, features a design by Jonathan Fensom and musical direction by Robert Howarth.
The Sam Wanamaker playhouse is lit by candlelight alone and so the Duke of Yorks theatre will be transformed for this transfer and lit almost exclusively by candles.
Farinelli And The King opened at the Duke of York’s theatre on the 14th of September.