When you are as in-demand as Sir Trevor Nunn you can take your pick where you want to stage your next play. Which makes it all the more impressive that he has chosen Kingston once more.

Having put on a selection of Shakespeare’s histories in the last year’s acclaimed Wars of the Roses, the former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre and the incumbent at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket will return to the Rose Theatre with King John in May.

Nunn told us: “I couldn’t be more fortunate, not only that there is a really smashing group of people that work there and run it but the Rose is a theatre that is built on the exact ground plan of the original Rose Theatre on the South Bank that was there during Shakespeare’s lifetime.”

Such authenticity meant it felt like the plays were returning home to the exact space they were written for.

He added: “King John has got that ingredient of being just that bit more intimate than you would expect a big chronicle play to be and therefore perfectly fitted for the Rose.

“If anybody said to me ‘where you most like to do a Shakespeare play in the world?’ I would say the Rose in Kingston.”

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King John will be the 36th of Shakespeare’s recognised 37 plays that 76-year-old Nunn has staged throughout his illustrious career and he will complete the set with A Midsummer Night’s Dream later in the year.

But that alone was not the reason he felt it was the right time to visit the rarely performed history.

He said: “I have always said one should never do a Shakespeare play just for the sake of doing it. It is so much better if there can be something that is relevant and topical about it.

“King John is a difficult play, it is a rarity in the Shakespeare canon, but it is a play about politics.

“It is about the ins and outs of politics, it is about deceit and duplicity and truth telling and lying and we are at the moment in our modern world absolutely inundated on the nightly news.”

While it is timely, however, King John is not an easy play to bring to the stage.

Nunn explained: “It is very probable that Shakespeare did a huge amount of work on this play but may not have been the person to do the last few scenes.

“There is something about the play that one has to edit and organise textually in order to get it to work.”

Much of that arduous study was done in solitary evenings while Nunn was in New York, putting on a production of Pericles, another of Shakespeare’s plays where there is a question mark over authorship.

Of course, in 2016 in particular Nunn is far from the only person bringing the Bard’s works to the stage but few in this era have been as celebrated for their interpretations nor as dedicated.

Nunn said: “If by the end of this year I have managed to do all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays, that sort of speaks for itself.

“You could say that is an impact bordering on obsession.

“I am never happier than when I am in a rehearsal room with an experienced and talented group of actors dealing with a Shakespeare text because it is wonderful language.

“Every play is packed with extraordinary ideas – ideas that still precisely pertain to the world that we live in at the moment.”

On the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the poet and playwright is as important as ever and if anyone can put their finger on why, it’s Sir Trevor Nunn.

He said: “There is overwhelming wisdom, insight, understanding of the human condition in Shakespeare’s plays that you can find almost nowhere else.

“Nobody is as astonishing as Shakespeare in that way. He makes us understand more about what it is to be human than anybody else that has ever lived.”

King John is at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, from May 14 to June 5. Tickets cost from £8. Go to rosetheatrekingston.org

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