. Credit: BBC
The Two Noble Kinsmen

The Two Noble Kinsmen

  • Radio comedy drama
  • BBC Radio 3
  • 2019
  • 1 episode

A rare adaptation of William Shakespeare's rarely-performed tragicomedy. Also features Lyndsey Marshal, Kate Phillips, Blake Ritson, Nikesh Patel, Ray Fearon and more.

. Credit: BBC

Key details

Comedy Drama
BBC Radio 3
Lyndsey Marshal, Kate Phillips, Blake Ritson, Nikesh Patel, Ray Fearon, Emma Fielding, Hugh Ross, Daniel Ryan and more
William Shakespeare, John Fletcher and Sara Davies
Celia De Wolff

On the day planned for his wedding to Hippolyta, Duke Theseus of Athens is petitioned by three queens to go to war against King Creon of Thebes, who has deprived their dead husbands of proper burial rites.

In Thebes, the 'two noble kinsmen', Palamon and Arcite, realise that their own hatred of Creon's tyranny must be put aside while their native city is in danger, but in spite of their valour in battle it is Theseus who is victorious. Imprisoned in Athens, the cousins catch sight of Hippolyta's sister, Emilia, and both fall instantly in love with her. Arcite is set free, but disguises himself rather than return to Thebes, while Palamon escapes with the help of the Jailer's Daughter, who loves him.

Meeting each other, the kinsmen agree that mortal combat between them must decide the issue, but they are discovered by Theseus who is persuaded to revoke his sentence of death and instead decrees that a tournament shall decide which cousin is to be married to the indecisive Emilia and which is to lose his head. The Jailer's Daughter has been driven mad by unrequited love, but accepts her former suitor when he pretends to be Palamon.

Before the tournament Arcite makes a lengthy invocation to Mars, while Palamon prays to Venus and Emilia to Diana - for victory to go to the one who loves her best. Although Arcite triumphs, he is thrown from his horse before the death sentence on Palamon can be carried out, and with his last breath bequeaths Emilia to his friend.

Additional details

Also known as
  • Drama On 3: The Two Noble Kinsmen
Music composed and performed by Tom Glenister and sung by Emma Mackey and Tom Glenister.

Website links

Broadcast details

First broadcast
Sunday 28th April 2019 at 7:30pm on BBC Radio 3
Episode length
115 minutes
All previous repeats
  • Sunday 26th March 2023 at 7:30pm on Radio 3

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