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Curtain falls early on Hilary Mantel play amid uncertainty over Covid pandemic

The Royal Shakespeare Company has cancelled a planned extension of its production of Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror And The Light amid Covid uncertainty.

The West End show premiered at the Gielgud Theatre at the end of last month and was extended until January 23.

But yesterday the play’s producers and the RSC said the run will now finish on November 28, cancelling the extension.

They wrote in a joint statement: ‘Over recent days, it has become clear that the ever-changing environment creates a level of uncertainty that does not support the risk involved in extending the run beyond its original planned end date.’

The Royal Shakespeare Company has cancelled a planned extension of its production of Hilary Mantel's The Mirror And The Light amid Covid uncertainty (pictured, Nathaniel Parker as Henry VIII, Giles Taylor as Cranmer and Rosanna Adams as Anna of Cleves)

The producers said the play – which has a cast of 24 and is the third instalment of the Wolf Hall book trilogy adapted for stage by Miss Mantel and Ben Miles – had ‘created work for hundreds of freelance practitioners after an impossible year’.

Hilary Hadley of the actors’ union Equity said the cancellation of the extension was ‘deeply disappointing’ for its members who will now be out of work during the Christmas period.

Those with tickets for Miss Mantel’s historical drama after the end of November will be offered tickets for the remaining dates or receive a refund.  

The producers said more than 50,000 people will have watched the production over 75 performances.

The West End show premiered at the Gielgud Theatre at the end of last month and was extended until January 23 but yesterday it was announced the run will now finish on November 28, cancelling the extension. Pictured: author, Hilary Mantel

They added that the play had ‘enjoyed a hugely successful run, delighting audiences with many commenting that this was their first trip back to the theatre since the initial lockdown 18 months ago’.

Speculation of a tightening of measures to help prevent Covid infections, known as ‘Plan B’, has risen over the last week,

This would include guidance to work from home and the mandatory use of face masks in some settings but not the closure of entertainment of hospitality venues.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) last week argued in favour of moving ‘fast and early’, although ministers have so far resisted calls to implement Plan B.