James Dacre Brings Shakespearean Scandal The Herbal Bed To The Playhouse

Photo: Mark Douet
JAMES Dacre (The Hook) is returning to Liverpool to direct The Herbal Bed, which will be at the Playhouse from 8 to 12 March. Based upon real events from Stratford-upon-Avon in the summer of 1613, the play 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, Peter Whelan’s moving and uplifting play provides a beautiful evocation of life in Shakespearean England. It was first produced to great acclaim by the Royal Shakespeare Company before transferring to the West End and Broadway, winning the Writer’s Guild and TMA Awards. Emma Lowndes (Downton Abbey, Cranford, The Musketeers, Children of the Sun and Thérèse Raquin at the National Theatre) leads a cast that also includes two-time Olivier nominee Charlotte Wakefield (The Sound of Music, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre; Mamma Mia, West End and International Tour), as well as Philip Correia (The History Boys, National Theatre), Patrick Driver, Jonathan Guy Lewis, Michael Mears and Matt Whitchurch. This is the first major revival of Peter Whelan’s The Herbal Bed and features original music by acclaimed Icelandic composer Valgeir Sigurðsson, founder of Bedroom Community, who worked as Music Editor on the Oscar-nominated film Dancer in the Dark. James Dacre is Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate, Northampton. He was previously Artistic Associate at the New Vic Theatre and Associate Director at Theatre503. The production reunites James Dacre and Jonathan Fensom from the team who won the 2014 UK Theatre Award for Best Design for Peter Whelan’s The Accrington Pals (also starring Emma Lowndes) at the Royal Exchange Theatre. His adaptation of Arthur Miller’s The Hook was an Everyman hit in July 2015.