A decade on, Gambon returns to the National
Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books 2013, and the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014.
Friday 04 February 2005
Gambon, 64, will play the role of Falstaff in Henry IV parts one and two from May until August.
The Irish-born actor, who began in theatre and went on to forge a screen career with critically acclaimed performances on television in Wives and Daughters and Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective and films including The Gambler and Gosford Park, rose through the repertory companies to headline Shakespearean tragedies.
In repertory he played the title roles in Macbeth, Coriolanus, and Othello, and in 1963 he was chosen by Olivier for the original National Theatre Company at the Old Vic. He last appeared for the National Theatre in David Hare's play Skylight in 1995.
Nicholas Hytner, the director of the National Theatre, who is directing Henry IV, said the role of Falstaff was perfectly suited to Gambon. "Michael is not only witty himself but the `cause that wit is in other men', like Falstaff. He has more stories, and there are more stories, than anyone else in the theatre," he said.
"One of his stories was that he'd been banned from the National for bad behaviour, so I thought I'd call his bluff."
Mr Hytner, who was announcing the National's 2005 season, said the theatre had an obligation to create debate and controversy.
The season includes David Edgar's new Playing With Fire. Racial tension is a central theme of the production, which Mr Hytner described as a "large, ambitious and exciting new play set in a fictional Northern town about contemporary domestic politics and the tensions that emerge from multiculturalism".
The 2005 season will also see Jim Broadbent perform at the National in May, in the sinister role of Edward Lionheart in The Theatre of Blood, an adaptation of the 1973 horror film.
Rachael Stirling, who starred in the Sapphic television series Tipping the Velvet, is cast as his daughter. Her mother, Dame Diana Rigg, starred in the role in the original film.
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...