by Bryony Lavery
National Theatre August 2012
Created for the World Shakespeare Festival & London 2012 Festival
An apple cleft in twain is not more twin
Than these two creatures
Stratford-upon-Avon, August 1596. Glorious weather, plague subsiding.
12 year old identical twins JUDITH and HAMNET have a famous playwright father who’s often away in London and rarely at home with his children. Judith wears boy’s clothes so she can look like Hamnet and insists that everyone calls her Cesario. She imprisons Hamnet inside the family house, even though there is somewhere he needs to be. She manages to evade the demands made by her bossy big sister SUSANNAH, who wants her to grow-up and help their mother in the house. Judith prefers life outdoors, and regularly picks fights with ARTHUR the apothecary’s boy and with the builder’s apprentices WATTLE and DAUB, the other pair of Stratford-upon-Avon twins. She drinks cider and smokes a pipe of the new tobacco with the huge HIGGLER family newly arrived from Queen Elizabeth’s London, and she buys a powerful spell from them. Why? Because Hamnet is very ill. He may leave forever and Judith’s not going to let that happen…
Inspired by the twins from several Shakespeare plays, Bryony Lavery’s funny and touching new play about belonging and loss is a summer treat for family audiences