'Bridgerton' Star Jonathan Bailey to Play Richard II at London's Bridge Theatre

Jonathan Bailey in "Richard II"

Jonathan Bailey in "Richard II"

(Photo: Jason Bell/Bridge Theatre)

Doctor Who fans may find themselves more motivated than usual to book a trip to London this Fall as a trio of Doctors (David Tennant, Jodie Whittaker, and Ncuti Gatwa) take to the stage in different productions across the city's West End from October through the end of the year. But Bridgerton enthusiasts will likely also want to start hoarding their airline miles for 2025, as star Jonathan Bailey, who plays Viscount Anthony Bridgerton, is set to return to the London stage next February. 

He'll tackle the lead role in William Shakespeare's Richard II, one of the Bard's lesser known --- or at least less frequently performed --- history plays, despite the fact that it contains one of his most famous monologues. (It's the "this Earth, this realm, this England" one. You know it.) 

The play itself follows the story of a charming, eloquent, and wildly vain man who was a rather disastrous king, and almost completely out of touch with the political realities of his own reign. The real Richard, son of Edward the Black Prince, ascended to the throne when he was just ten years old and reigned until he was ultimately deposed by Henry Bolingbroke, the man who would become King Henry IV some twenty years later in 1399.  

(Your mileage may vary on whether you believe he died in prison or was brutally murdered after giving up his crown.) 

Great Performances fans may have seen Ben Whishaw (This is Going to Hurt) tackle the role of Richard in the first season of The Hollow Crown back in 2012, and Tennant --- soon to tread the boards once more in Shakespeare's Scottish play --- won critical acclaim for his turn in the RSC's 2013 production. Bailey's about to be in good company, is what I'm saying. 

Here's how the theater describes the production:

Richard II is charismatic, eloquent and loved by his friends. And a disastrous King – dishonest, capricious and politically incompetent.

Echoing down the centuries is the perennial problem: how to deal with a ruler who has a rock solid right to rule but is set on wrecking the country he leads.

Shakespeare’s subtle, ambiguous and beautiful play finds feudal England on the cusp of modernity, as a divinely sanctioned monarch is confronted, in the figure of Henry Bolingbroke, by the hard-headed pragmatism of real authority.

Richard II will be the Bridge Theatre's first production since its critically acclaimed immersive revival of Guys and Dolls, which has been playing the venue since 2023. The production will be directed by Nicholas Hytner, who has a string of starry theater and motion picture credits under his belt, ranging from One Man, Two Guvnors to The Madness of King George. Hynter and Bailey previously worked together in the National Theatre's 2013 production of Othello

The production will feature scenic and costume design by Bob Crowley and lighting design by Bruno Poet. Additional casting will be announced in due course.

Bailey is the second Bridgerton lead in the past few months to jump from the ton to the stage. Luke Thompson, who stars as second son Benedict Bridgerton, played Berowne in the Royal Shakespeare Company's recent production of Love's Labour's Lost in Stratford-Upon-Avon earlier this spring.

Richard II will play a strictly limited run from February 10 to May 10, 2025. Tickets are onsale now.

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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