Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

Henry VIII returns to The Globe theatre

The Globe
The new Globe, on London's South Bank, is a replica of the original

Shakespeare's Globe is to stage Henry VIII almost 400 years after the original theatre was destroyed during the last performance of the play.

A cannon, fired as a special effect in June 1613, struck the Globe's thatched roof and destroyed the playhouse.

The Globe's artistic director Dominic Dromgoole said he hoped the latest production will have better luck.

Dominic Rowan, currently starring with Keira Knightley in West End hit The Misanthrope, will play Henry VIII.

The Globe recently announced it had achieved the highest attendance figures ever in its 13-year history.

'Magical time'

Mr Dromgoole said: "Normally I would think that Henry VIII would be box office poison but we seem to be living in a period of Tudor gold dust at the moment.

"There is something strange and magical about that time for us."

Henry VIII, which opens in May, is part of the theatre's 2010 Kings and Rogues season.

Shakespeare's masterpieces Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 will also be staged, while Lucy Bailey's production of Macbeth will star Elliot Cowan, who recently appeared in the Donmar's award-winning A Streetcar Named Desire.

The 2010 season will also see two new plays performed for the first time.

Bedlam, by Nell Leyshon, is a fictional account of the oldest psychiatric hospital in Western Europe and is inspired by the gin epidemic of the 18th Century.

Asked about being the first known woman to stage a play at the Globe, Ms Leyshon said: "I wanted to prove that women can do big stories. It's been said too often that women can't."

Other new works will include Anne Boleyn by Howard Brenton, which dramatises the life and legacy of Henry VIII's second wife as a "sexual predator and rogue Queen".

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