Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey star to play Richard II on London stage

Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey will play Richard II in a new production of the Shakespeare play directed by Nicholas Hytner at the Bridge Theatre in London.

It will reunite the 36-year-old actor with Hytner, whose 2013 version of Othello at the National Theatre featured Bailey as Cassio. The actor also played Edgar opposite Ian McKellen’s King Lear at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2017.

The role will be Bailey’s most high-profile Shakespeare role to date, following his success playing Lord Anthony Bridgerton in Netflix’s racy regency drama, Bridgerton, alongside Simone Ashley, who plays his love interest Kate Sharma.

Before the Richard II run begins in February, Bailey is currently busy in production for the new Jurassic World film, while also preparing for the press tour for the forthcoming Wicked movie, in which he plays Fiyero.

The actor followed his Bridgerton success with a role in the acclaimed TV miniseries Fellow Travellers, in which he plays Timothy Laughlin, a congressional staffer in the 1950s. The show follows a decades-long turbulent romance between his character and Hawkins Fuller (Matt Bomer) as they navigate the changes the era brings.

Hytner’s Richard II will be staged in what the director described as “a cross between in-the-round and traverse”, rather than the immersive style of Hytner’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Julius Caesar, which both allowed audiences to be up close to the actors.

Bailey found international fame from his role in ‘Bridgerton’ (AFP via Getty Images)
Bailey found international fame from his role in ‘Bridgerton’ (AFP via Getty Images)

“Richard II has a delicacy and interiority that isn’t going to respond to that kind of treatment,” Hytner told The Guardian of plans for the production.

He said the play’s central question is: “What do you do when a ruler is absolutely inadequate? How do you get rid of the rightful leader?”

Adding that Shakespeare wrote the play in a way that left his own opinion ambiguous, Hytner said: “On the one hand, the play endorses Richard’s right to rule and on the other hand it appears to endorse [his adversary] Bolingbroke’s greater capacity to rule.”

The director said the play will examine “a feudal world on the cusp of modernity”.

Performances of Richard II will begin at the Bridge on 10 February.