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Transgender actor to star as ‘Hamlet' at St Paul's Church, Covent Garden

Jenet Le Lacheur

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOR the past ten years, Iris Theatre has been producing outdoor promenade performances of Shakespeare in the beautiful grounds of St Paul’s Church in the heart of Covent Garden. In this secret haven of tranquility, set amongst the busy streets of central London, they reimagine classics in new and exciting ways.

This year, from June 19 to July 27, 2019, they are presenting Hamlet with a non-binary transgender actor, Jenet Le Lacheur, in the title role. Central to this contemporary production will be an exploration of identity, gender and meaning.

Amid the rubble of the old politics, a populist King rose to power, promising a return to England’s golden age. But now he is dead, murdered; and in the following bloodbath his brother has seized the throne. A masked figure has been seen, stalking the shadows. There is whisper of a resistance, gathering in the dark. To be or not to be, that is the question – but does the nation’s heir, Hamlet, have the answer? Uphold the status quo; or join the rebellion? The audience will be asked to decide.

Using extensive video and filmed footage, this production approaches Hamlet’s story through multiple layers of overlapping storytelling. Footage of state propaganda will be interrupted by a shadowy resistance, broadcasting grainy CCTV footage showing a hidden truth. But who is posting them and can they be trusted? Now all images can be altered, nothing is as it seems.

A radical soundtrack, and a band of players inspired by voguing club kids, will bring energy and joy to this thrilling production.

Director Daniel Winder said: “In this, the 10th year of our outdoor summer season, I am thrilled to be bringing to Covent Garden a radical take on Shakespeare’s greatest play. Never has this timeless story been more relevant, and this thrilling production will draw on all those contemporary parallels. We are going to find as much joy as we can in this tragic tale of wild abandon and youthful rebellion.”

As well as Jenet Le Lacheur (as Hamlet), the cast includes Clare Bloomer (Gertrude), Vinta Morgan (Claudius), Paula James (Polonius), Jenny Horsthuis (Ophelia), Joe Parker (Laertes) and Harold Addo (Horatio).

Jenet Le Lacheur was Juliet in Redefining Juliet (Barbican) and 1st cover Scorpious Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Cursed Chilld (West End).

Clare Bloomer was Shylock in a gender re-working of The Merchant of Venice at the 2000-seat Silvano Toti Globe Theatre in Rome and Duke of York’s Theatre, West End.

Vinta Morgan has worked extensively at the RSC and was Duke of Norfolk in Jamie Lloyd’s Richard II at Trafalgar Studios.

Paula James was Emilia in the RSC’s recent production of The Comedy of Errors and Mum in Dead Reckoning (Young Vic).

Jenny Horsthuis returns to Iris Theatre after previously playing Lady Macduff in Macbeth and D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers.

Joe Parker’s recent roles include Mercrutio in Romeo and Juliet, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and Hotspur in Henry IV.

Harold Addo made his professional debut as Jim Hawkins in Iris Theatre’s Offie Award-winning production of Treasure Island. He is currently in Billy Budd at the Royal Opera House.

Other roles will be taken by the company.

The production has set design by Mike Leopold, fight choreography by Nathaniel Marten, costume design by Mady Berry, lighting design by Benjamin Polya and sound design by Filipe Gomes.

Also part of Iris Theatre’s Summer 2019 Season is The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

St Paul’s Church, Bedford Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9ED