Bridgerton’s Jonathan Bailey to play tragic Shakespearean king Richard II at Bridge Theatre

Jonathan Bailey at the Bridgerton Premiere

Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey has been tapped to play Richard II in a brand-new production of the famous Shakespeare play at the Bridge Theatre in London.

A new version of the history play will be staged in London by director Nicholas Hytner, reuniting the pair after they worked together in 2013.

Hytner directed Othello at the National Theatre in 2013 featuring Bailey as Cassio. Richard II will be Bailey’s biggest Shakespearean role to date.

Performances of Richard II will begin at the Bridge Theatre on February 10, 2025 and run until May 10.

In staging the play, Hytner said he will be exploring the key themes of Richard II, which centers on two questions: “What do you do when a ruler is absolutely inadequate? How do you get rid of the rightful leader?”

Jonathan Bailey shirtless in a bathtub
Jonathan Bailey in the second season of Bridgerton. (Screen capture via Netflix)

“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,” Hytner told The Guardian.

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Hytner previously staged productions of Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Bridge Theatre, which is the flagship venue of the London Theatre Company founded by Hytner and Nick Starr. Both productions were immersive, bringing audiences up close and personal to the actors, but he is not planning to do the same with Richard II.

Richard II has a delicacy and interiority that isn’t going to respond to that kind of treatment,” he said.

Bailey began his career as a child actor in productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company so he is no stranger to the historic writer’s plays. He has also appeared in Les Miserables, Cock, The Last Five Years, and Company, all on the West End.

On screen, Bailey is best known for playing the journalist Olly Stevens in ITV’s Broadchurch alongside Olivia Coleman and David Tennant and more recently playing Viscount Anthony Bridgerton in the regency romance Bridgerton, a Netflix adaptation of Julia Quinn’s novels.

Bailey is also set to appear in the new series of Heartstopper and in Jurassic World 4.

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