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Edward II

by Christopher Marlowe

The Royal Exchange Manchester


Visually; sensually, Nicholas Hytner’s production of Edward II is one of the most exciting, and exhilarating I’ve seen on the arena stage of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Tom Cairn’s design draws on the three-dimensional, gladiatorial nature of theatre in-the-round. Filling the floor with a deep litter of dark compost surrounded by a raised walkway, it suggests both a circus and a bearpit as images of the medieval court. The glowering blue ball of the sky showers rain that churns the soft earth into sticky, degrading mud. All this theatrical wizardry, the glint and chink of golden armour, could be dangerously distracting. But the power and range of Ian McDiarmid’s performance as Edward keeps thrusting the text on your attention.

– Guardian, Robin Thornber

Nicolas Hytner’s revival of Marlow’s Edward II at the Royal Exchange in Manchester is one of the year’s outstanding theatrical events: a superb staging of the first English chronicle play that is as modern and outrageous as anything you might devise by mixing early Shakespeare with Joe Orton.

– Financial Times, Michael Coveney

Michael Grandage provides a credible unvoluptuous Gaveston, full of Gallic vitality in a somber Northern court and Iain Glen’s young flattering Spencer captures the banal pedantry and monomania of those who, when the country is riven, strive to climb on the treacherous wheel.

– Independent, Michael Schmidt


Michael Grandage
Piers de Gaveston
Ian McDiarmid
King Edward II
Peter Wight
Edmund, Earl of Kent
Michael Hughes
Lancaster/Abbott of Neath
Duncan Bell
Mortimer the Younger
David Howey
Warwick/Sir Thomas Berkeley
Stuart Golland
Pembroke/Rice Ap Howell
Leonard Maguire
Bishop of Coventry/Spencer the Elder
Geoffrey Bank
Archbishop of Canterbury
Brid Brennan
Queen Isabella
Iain Glen
Spencer the Younger
Colin McFarlane
Karen Henthorn
Lady Margaret de Clare
Alex Haig, Adam Sunderland
Prince Edward
Adrian Palmer
Matrevis/James Pearson
Sean Blowers
Louis Hilyer
Nicholas Hytner
Tom Cairns
Jeremy Sams
Mark Henderson
Martin Duncan
Masque written & staged


Edward II at the Royal Exchange in Manchester is one of the year’s outstanding theatrical events.