Theatre on TV and Radio Jan 9 - 15
First Shakespeare of 2012: The Tempest at the White Bear

Finally some theatre casting news to get excited about

Rom_2010_gallery_10_mercutio_deathNormally at this stage of the year there are at least a small handful of casting/play announcements that have elevated my excitement levels.

But, and I'm in part blaming the Donmar Warehouse for keeping the key casting announcements under wraps for most of its new season, there has been only two Mark Rylance-sized tasty morsels and a Julie Walter's teaser to put a grin on my face.

However, over the weekend there was some news that has finally got me rubbing my hands together in glee. Jonjo O'Neill is to play Richard III at The Swan Theatre in Stratford this year.

Regulars to Stratford will be familiar with O'Neill. For me he was the most memorable turn in the RSC's Romeo & Juliet of two years ago, stealing all his scenes as the lewd, sarcastic and very funny Mercutio. (Felt more sad when he died than when the star-crossed lovers did.)

I've never thought of a younger actor playing Richard III (too busy obsessing about young Hamlets) but at 34 I think O'Neill will bring an interesting energy and a new dimension to the role, particularly in how he plays against other characters. I'm already curious as to what age his counterparts will be. A much older brother as King I think would create interesting dynamic and give fresh take on his motives.

And I am already imagining a performance that plays up his humour and charm in public but which switches with startling speed to malevolance and ruthless scheming in private. 

Thank goodness I've already got tickets to see it - not until July unfortunately, when I make my annual pilgrammage to Stratford with my friend Jen. Richard III opens on March 22 and runs in rep until September 15.

And in celebration, here's a little video clip I found of Jonjo being silly.