Thomas More

Previewed 4 January 2006, Opened 5 January 2006, Closed 14 January 2006 at the Trafalgar Studios in London

"I am ashamed that freeborn Englishmen, having beaten strangers within their own homes, should thus be braved and abused by them at home." Thomas More Act I Scene i

Shakespeare's 'banned' play written in collaboration with Anthony Munday and Henry Chettle. Race riots and dissent abound in London as a result of asylum seekers from the continent fleeing religious persecution. Londoners see them as a threat to their employment and relationships. Thomas More attempts to quell the uprising with wise words pleading for racial harmony.

Thomas More was written by William Shakespeare, Anthony Munday and Henry Chettle. This production for The Royal Shakespeare Company is directed by Robert Delamere and was previously seen at The Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon during the 2005 Festival Season.

Robert Delamre, who directs, has opted for predominantly modern dress. I think this is a mistake - it makes More's lines about the refugees less remarkable, less ahead of their time, than they otherwise would. But Nigel Cooke gives a fine, humourous, well-judged performance as More himself; and the later scenes are often livelier than one might have hoped. They can be touching, amusing, even surprising. At one point More examinines his urine, finds gravel in it and makes a saronic joke. It's the kind of thing that used to make well-bred classicists despair of Elizabethan barbarism." The Sunday Telegraph

"With no fewer than five authors, one of them William Shakespeare, this epic portrait of the English Saint, Thomas More, has no right to hang together. Yet, in Robert Delamere's production, it sweeps assuredly through social history and satirical farce to its ultimately tragic conclusion... And although Delamere's production is often rowdy, it weaves in thoughtfulness and silence. There are fine performances all round, especially in some of the almost in cidental cameos." The Daily Mail

"What brings More his title and power is a speech to Londoners with both just and unjust reasons to riot against foreigners thatís certainly by Shakespeare himself... Munday, Chettle and whoever else wrote most of the play... created a piece which, though censored and maybe unperformed in the 1590s, is of great historical interest... It says much for Nigel Cooke, leading Robert Delamereís strong cast, that he never becomes a prig or an irritant but maintains an infectious warmth and unaffected decency throughout." The Times

"The Royal Shakespeare Company gives the play Thomas More its premiere more than 400 years after it was written in 1592. Had it not been for William Shakespeare's small but significant contribution, this uneven patchwork may not have been judged so worthy of note... The director, Robert Delamere, places the piece vaguely in modern dress - a bit Forties but with more contemporary linen suits and shirts - which contributes little beyond mild disorientation. As a reminder that asylum seeking is nothing new and that Shakespeare was vastly superior to his contemporaries, it would have worked better in period costume. Nigel Cooke's sprightly, lighthearted performance as More lifts a piece that is fitfully heavygoing and, frankly, is also one for academics and theatrical archaeologists only." The Mail on Sunday

Thomas More in London at the Trafalgar Studios previewed from 4 January 2006, opened on 5 January 2006 and closed on 14 January 2006