Upstart Crow in the West End – What We Know so Far

Upstart Crow is coming to the West End (Tickets here: The show will run from February 7th at the Gielgud Theatre until the end of April. But, what do we know about the story so far and who’s on board?

Here’s the plot synopsis from the play’s official website:

‘Tis 1605 and England’s greatest playwright is in trouble. Will Shakespeare has produced just two plays; Measure for Measure, which according to King James was incomprehensible bollingbrokes by any measure, and All’s Well That End’s Well which didn’t even end well. Will desperately needs to maketh a brilliant new play to bolster his reputation and avoid being cast aside by King and country. But Will’s personal life is encountering more dramatic twists and turns than any theatrical story he can conjure. How the futtock can a Bard be expected to find a plot for a play whilst his daughters run amok and his house is used as refuge for any old waif and stray. As time runs out, can Will hold on to his dream of being recognised now and for all time, as indisputably the greatest writer that ever lived, or will family woes thwart Will’s chances of producing his masterwork?

Other plot line tidbits have appeared in the press including this:

“Will desperately needs to come up with a brilliant new plot but he is finding it impossible to focus on finding one. He’s too distracted by family troubles. He’s considering dividing all his lands and property between his jealous, squabbling daughters and, to add to the confusion, two shipwrecked, Moorish, cross-dressing, identical twins have just arrived, separately and unaware of each other, at his door. How the futtock can a Bard be expected to find a plot for a play with all that is going on in the house?

“To make matters worse Will’s friend and housekeeper Kate, horrified at the exploitation of showbiz animals for entertainment, has recently ‘liberated’ the Globe Theatre’s prize dancing bear. Kate intends to keep the poor distressed animal in the scullery until she can reintroduce her into the wild, but Mrs Whiskers (who was born to dance) has other plans. You can take the dancing bear out of the theatre, but you can’t take the theatre out of the dancing bear.”

It looks as if someone’s going to exit pursued by a bear…

The full cast has now been confirmed


Who will play King James I ?

We don’t know if King James I will be in the play. However, last year, in an interview, David speculated that the show would hopefully continue into King James I reign, and suggested Micheal Palin as potential casting. Another name that’s being thrown around on twitter is a familiar face to the world of Upstart Crow, Kenneth Branagh. But this is pure speculation.

Will a recording of the play be released?

Although it is unusual for theatrical plays to be recorded and then released on DVD it isn’t uncommon for Shakespearean or comedy live shows. As this play is also a continuation of the Upstart Crow story we can’t rule out a script book release either (we’re talking Harry Potter and the Cursed Child style) and there’s also a possibility that this play will be made into a special or become part of series 4, although nothing has been confirmed regarding Upstart Crow’s return to television.

What else do we know?

Producers say the show will see “Mitchell once more don the bald wig and bardish coddling pouch in his iconic characterisation of Will Shakespeare.” and David himself has said “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to bring history’s most famous balding dramatist to the West End via the amazing comic imagination of Ben Elton. Theater-goers can look forward to a comedy steeped in authentic Shakespearean ambiance in every way apart from the smell.”

Ben Elton, while talking about the new stage play on Good Morning Britain revealed:

‘David Mitchell starring in a stage version, as it should be, coming to its natural home because it’s obviously a sitcom about Shakespeare and it’s a Shakespearean play about two identical twins, it’s got all sorts of new stuff in it.’

So from this we can assume that The Comedy of Errors is also being worked into the plot.

The show has a 100 minute long run time and is directed by Olivier award-winner Sean Foley (The LadykillersJeeves & Wooster and The Miser).

As always we’ll keep you updated when any further information comes available and thanks to The British Comedy Guide for most of the information in this article :


One thought on “Upstart Crow in the West End – What We Know so Far

  1. While there is little information about the Feb-April 2020 run of this live version of Upstart Crow, the details released so far give fans a tantalising view of what to expect. With it moving on about 10 years to 1605, there are bound to be changes, which a live production can handle. In reality, a few of the characters in the TV series had passed away by then, notably John Shakespeare, Burbage and Kempe, but then Robert Greene died in 1592 and still appeared in all but one episode on TV, and then there is the mystery surrounding Kit: was he murdered in 1593 or did he escape into exile? Therefore, we cannot have preconceived ideas and must await more details, or see it for ourselves at the theatre. Many thanks for this update and I look forward to more as we near the opening night. Meanwhile, I am hoping for both a DVD and script book as a souvenir of the play and so others who can’t see it live can also experience it.


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