Written by Henry Chettle, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood, Anthony Munday & William Shakespeare

Directed by Frank Dunlop assisted by Richard Digby Day

Ian McKellen in the role of More

Nottingham Playhouse, Nottingham

10 June 1964 - 4 July 1964


Words from Ian McKellen

1964 was Shakespeare's quattrocentenary and Nottingham Playhouse's contribution was to un-earth this play containing a scene indisputably by Shakespeare (the hand-written manuscript survives in the British Museum). John Neville was to have played More until he fell out with his co-artistic director, Frank Dunlop, who re-cast me in the part. I relished embodying a Shakespeare hero in the first-ever professional production of the play. I have often re-called this production when speaking the More speech about "strangers" in my solo shows "Acting Shakespeare" and "A Knight Out".

Our company was augmented by the arrival of Steven Berkoff. He was quiet and not much popular. Onstage his movements were eccentrically wooden "but this was early in his career and before he had studied mime with LeCoq or begun to write his explosive plays.

Comments and Reviews

"Ian McKellen's More is a strikingly interesting performance. Sometimes you think he's not much more than an affable curate just down from Oxford; sometimes the gangling do-gooder seems to lack, now maturity, now fire. But the interpretation is deliberate and intelligent The accent is on qualities more essential to goodness, humility, simplicity, and kindliness. Mr. McKellen's cleverly awkward movements emphasise this, and the last scene, where the lines suggest a kind of self-mocking saintliness justifies it. This is a performance of dignity, without a trace of mawkishness." — Benedict Nightingale, The Guardian


Banner photo: Ian McKellen as Sir Thomas More

I was too young but enjoyed trying to look like the real Sir Thomas — this photo was taken in my dressing-room.


Full Cast List