Upstart Crow to become a stage show

Wednesday 25th September 2019, 11:29am

  • Upstart Crow is coming to the stage, with David Mitchell set to play Shakespeare in the West End
  • The Upstart Crow will run from 7th February to 25th April 2020 at the Gielgud Theatre. Tickets
  • The new story by Ben Elton focuses on how Will must come up with a brilliant new plot for a play
Upstart Crow. Will Shakespeare (David Mitchell). Copyright: BBC.

David Mitchell will star in a new stage version of the BBC sitcom Upstart Crow.

Creator Ben Elton has written a new story especially for the West End production.

Producers say the show will see "Mitchell once more don the bald wig and bardish coddling pouch in his iconic characterisation of Will Shakespeare."

The Upstart Crow will open at the Gielgud Theatre in London's West End Theatre on 7th February, and run until 25th April.

David Mitchell says: "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. Theatre-goers can look forward to a comedy steeped in authentic Shakespearean ambience in every way apart from the smell."

At the moment the only TV cast member confirmed as joining Mitchell on stage is Gemma Whelan, who plays Kate.

Producers say: "They will be joined on stage by a troupe of players for this 11 week season, directed by Olivier award-winner Sean Foley (The Ladykillers, Jeeves & Wooster and The Miser)."

The plot is described as follows: "It is 1605 and England's greatest playwright is in trouble. King James has been on the throne for two years and Will Shakespeare has produced just two plays, both of which being generally considered to resemble the large semi-flightless birds recently discovered pecking corn and going 'gobble gobble' in the New World. Measure For Measure was incomprehensible bollingbrokes by any measure and All's Well That End's Well didn't even end well. Will must lift his game or risk his head. Those who work at the pleasure of the King live in constant fear of his favour. No one has forgotten what happened to Henry VIII's marriage guidance councillor.

"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."

The show will run Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm. There's more details at and tickets are on sale now from sites including Ticketmaster

The production is just the latest in a long tradition of sitcoms transferring to the stage, including Dad's Army and 'Allo 'Allo!, both of which became huge live hits with their original cast members.

Upstart Crow has run for three series on BBC Two, with the latest episode broadcast last Christmas. There is no news yet on whether a fourth television series may follow, but it has been a hit with the channel's audience to date.

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