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The Herbal Bed

The Herbal Bed promotional poster

An English Touring Theatre, Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Rose Theatre Kingston production

Tues 15 – Sat 19 March 2016

English Touring Theatre return to Exeter Northcott Theatre in March with their new, critically- acclaimed, production of The Herbal Bed.

“I have always wanted that which I cannot have.”

Based upon real events from Stratford-upon-Avon in the summer of 1613, The Herbal Bed is an emotional thriller recounting the public trial of Shakespeare’s daughter. Accused of adultery with her neighbour, Susanna and her husband fall under the glare of intense public scrutiny as they sue her accuser for slander.

A powerful exposé of the contradiction between human desire and social convention which seeks to repress it, Peter Whelan’s moving and uplifting play provides a beautiful evocation of life in Shakespearean England. It was first produced to great acclaim by the Royal Shakespeare Company before transferring to the West End and Broadway.

Director of English Touring Theatre, Rachel Tackley said  “When I first read The Herbal Bed, I thought it was the perfect project for English Touring Theatre to produce. I had seen James Dacre’s masterful production of Peter Whelan’s Accrington Pals and thought he would be perfect to direct it. I am really excited to collaborate with Royal & Derngate and the Rose and to take this beautiful play to audiences across the UK on its first ever tour.”

Director James Dacre said today “In the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death, Royal & Derngate are thrilled to be partnering with ETT and the Rose to produce a play about his family, set during the final chapter of his life. This production also celebrates the legacy of another great playwright, Peter Whelan. I was lucky enough to work with Peter and to benefit from his great wisdom and warmth shortly before he died last year. This revival of The Herbal Bed, his most influential play, is a tribute to his enduring relevance as a playwright. The Herbal Bed offers a penetrating insight into the clash between human desire and social convention. A moving and uplifting story, it is a gripping thriller, a prescient social commentary and an extraordinary romance.”

“a beautiful revival of a wise and witty play’


“ [a] gripping domestic drama and a richly plausible piece of historical speculation”

For more information, please contact Jenny Hogg on 01392 722409 or email her

Notes to editors

Cast member, Jonathan Guy Lewis, is a graduate of the University of Exeter. He also performed at the Exeter Northcott Theatre Charity Command Performance in December 2014.

English Touring Theatre is one of the UK’s most successful and exciting production companies, widely regarded as England’s National Theatre of Touring.

Led by Director Rachel Tackley, the company works with leading artists to stage an eclectic mix of new and classic work for audiences throughout the UK and overseas; theatre that is thrilling, popular and, above all, entertaining.

The company primarily produces work for larger theatres, driven by the belief that experiencing plays simultaneously with large numbers of other people is a distinctively powerful cultural experience for audiences. English Touring Theatre is the only touring company with public investment, to produce work for larger theatres in England. At the heart of everything the company does is the passionately held belief that people everywhere in this country expect and deserve the very highest quality of work.

James Dacre
directs and is Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate, Northampton. He was previously Artistic Associate at the New Vic Theatre and Associate Director at Theatre503. For Royal & Derngate his credits include Brave New World, The Hook, The Body of an American, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Tale of Two Cities. For Shakespeare’s Globe his credits include King John, Holy Warriors, As You Like It (International tour). His other credits include The Mountaintop (Theatre503 and West End), King James Bible (National Theatre), Accrington Pals (Royal Exchange Theatre), The Mountaintop (Theatre503 and Trafalgar Studios), Precious Little Talent (Trafalgar Studios), 4000 Miles (Bath Theatre Royal, The Print Room), The Thrill of Love (New Vic Theatre, Stephen Joseph Theatre and St James Theatre), Orpheus and Eurydice (National Youth Theatre and Old Vic), The Unconquered  (Stellar Quines, UK Tour and Off-Broadway transfer) and Nightshifts (Traverse). Off Broadway-work includes Baal, The Error of their Ways, Work and Come and Go. He has been awarded Fulbright and Schubert Fellowships in Theatre Directing and trained on the ITV/Channel 4 Regional Theatre Director’s Scheme.


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