Ian McKellen is Playing Shakespeare’s Falstaff on Stage in the West End Next Year

Ian McKellen will be playing the famous role in Player Kings, a new production adapted from Shakespeare’s plays

Having played Richard II, Macbeth, Iago, Coriolanus, Richard III, King Lear and Hamlet (in his 80s), Sir Ian McKellen is no stranger to Shakespeare, and now he’s preparing to take on the iconic role of John Falstaff. He’ll be starring in Player Kings, adapted by Robert Icke (who’s also on directing duties) from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2.

In the plays, newly ascended king Henry IV is reigning over a divided country where rebellion is brewing, while his son Hal is more interested in spending time in the taverns with infamous drunken knight John Falstaff, though he eventually comes good and grows into his role as future king of England.

Falstaff is widely regarded as one of the best roles ever created by Shakespeare, and Ian McKellen had this to say about stepping into the character’s shoes, “I decided to become a professional actor at Cambridge in 1959, when I was in John Barton’s undergraduate production of Henry IV. Derek Jacobi played Prince Hal and I was the ancient Justice Shallow. Ever since, the plays have been among my favourite Shakespeares, although through the years I’ve resisted offers to play John Falstaff. Robert Icke’s ingenious adaptation was irresistible.”

Player Kings will preview at the New Wimbledon Theatre and Manchester Opera House in March before a twelve-week run at the Noël Coward Theatre starting in April.

Mon 1st April – Sat 22nd June 2024
85-88 St Martin’s Ln, London WC2N 4AP