The Cardinal
by James Shirley

About This Project

“All great men know, the soul of life is fame.”


The state of Navarre is in crisis. An unscrupulous Cardinal has the ear of the King and is hungry for power. The Duchess Rosaura longs to marry the Count D’Alvarez, but the Cardinal wants her for his brutish nephew. To tighten his grip on the Kingdom, the ruthless Cardinal will stop at nothing to secure the marriage. But in the Duchess it seems he has finally met his match…


Hailed as James Shirley’s tragic masterpiece, The Cardinal (1641) was one of the last plays staged in England before Oliver Cromwell’s ban on theatre. With remarkably lucid and fast-paced dialogue, it is the captivating story of a religious monster and his relentless pursuit of power.


Supported by an MGCfutures Bursary Award and the Stage One Bursary Scheme for New Producers.


Reviews for The Cardinal at Southwark Playhouse:

★★★★ ‘Riveting tale of corruption retrieved from the vaults of history… this clean, concise and thoroughly tense production from director Justin Audibert.’ Claire Allfree, The Telegraph CRITICS’ CHOICE

★★★★ ‘A forgotten gem… a vigorous production that would look at home in Stratford-on-Avon’s Swan theatre.’ Michael Billington, The Guardian

★★★★ ‘Stephen Boxer sparkles with charm and malice in this bloody tragedy… an overlooked treasure rewards audiences with revenge, blood, and humour.’ Joe Vesey-Byrne, The Independent

★★★★ ‘Natalie Simpson squeezes every drop of mischief, passion and spirit from this determined woman.’ Claire Allfree, The Telegraph CRITICS’ CHOICE

★★★★ ‘Visually as well as textually, the production proves that in the right hands, neglected texts can find renewed life.’ Will Rathbone, The Arts Desk



Lighting Designer:

Sound Designer & Composer:

Fight Director:

Movement Director:

Production Manager:


Stephen Boxer, Sophia Carr-Gomm, Phil Cheadle, Ashley Cook, Marcus Griffiths, Patrick Osborne, Jay Saighal, Natalie Simpson, Timothy Speyer, Paul Westwood, Rosie Wyatt


26 April - 27 May 2017