The Herbal Bed. Photo by Mark Douet. Philip Correia, Emma Lowndes, Jonathan Guy Lewis

‘The contradiction between human desire and social convention’: The Herbal Bed at the Exeter Northcott Theatre

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

Based on 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: “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.”

The Herbal Bed is at the Exeter Northcott Theatre from Tuesday, March 15 to Saturday, March 19, 2016.


(image: The Herbal Bed. Photo by Mark Douet. Philip Correia, Emma Lowndes, Jonathan Guy Lewis.)


(from a press release)



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