also starring Gemma Whelan as Kate

Directed By Sean Foley

A Troupe of Players appearing at




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'The most consistently funny comedy since One Man Two Guvnors.'

The Guardian


'Ben Elton is at his finest - It's a play even the great bard would be proud of.'

The Sun

Olivier Awards Nominee 2020

About Upstart Crow

'A hit, a hit, an implausible hit!' (Independent) Ben Elton's five-star Olivier award-nominated stage production of the critically acclaimed and much adored BBC sitcom UPSTART CROW, returns to the West End stage.

Starring 'the genius' (Daily Mail) David Mitchell, will once more don the bald wig and bardish coddling pouch in his iconic characterisation of Will Shakespeare and Gemma Whelan 'winningly reprises her role' (Evening Standard) as the sweet and fragrant Kate.

David Mitchell says: "I'm delighted to have the opportunity to bring history's most famous balding dramatist to the West End via the amazing comic imagination of Ben Elton. Theatre goers can look forward to a comedy steeped in authentic Shakespearean ambience in every way apart from the smell."

'Tis 1605 and England's greatest playwright is in trouble. Will Shakespeare has produced just two plays and desperately needs to maketh a brilliant new show to bolster his reputation and avoid being cast aside by King and country. As time runs out, can Will hold on to his dream of being recognised now and for all time, as indisputably the greatest writer that ever lived?

Running Time 100 minutes plus one interval.


The Times


The Independent


The Telegraph


Daily Mail


The i




The Arts Desk




Financial Times


Daily Express

David Mitchell as William Shakespeare


David Mitchell grew up in Oxford. He was miserable at a Dickensian primary school but happy at Cambridge, where he was president of Footlights and met his comedy partner Robert Webb. Together they have starred in the BAFTA-winning series THAT MITCHELL AND WEBB LOOK and PEEP SHOW.

Mitchell has been a team captain on BBC One's ever popular WOULD I LIE TO YOU for ten series, he presented Channel 4's 10 O'CLOCK LIVE, hosts Radio 4's THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH and has appeared on pretty much every British TV or radio panel show. In 2016 David began his role as William Shakespeare in Ben Elton's new six part comedy series UPSTART CROW for the BBC, which subsequently ran for a further 2 series and specials.

Following the critical success of his memoir BACK STORY, his latest book, DISHONESTY IS THE SECOND-BEST POLICY: AND OTHER RULES TO LIVE BY, has just been released.

David has recently starred with Robert Mitchell in 2 series of Back for Channel 4.

Gemma Whelan as Kate


British actress and comedian Gemma Whelan is known for her varied body of work.

Gemma has recently finished filming the role of 'Mrs Weston' in Working Title's re-make of JANE AUSTEN'S EMMA. The film is adapted by Eleanor Catton and marks the feature film directorial debut of Autumn de Wilde. Also starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Callum Turner and Mia Goth, EMMA is releasing next year.

Gemma is currently filming a role in the third series of the hugely successful and critically acclaimed KILLING EVE for the BBC.

Early next year Gemma will tackle the real-life role of 'Ann Eaton' in WHITE HOUSE FARM based on the real-life events of the White House Farm Murders and Jeremy Bamber. Also starring Freddie Fox and Stephen Graham the drama is scheduled to start on ITV in January.

In spring 2020 Gemma will reprise her role of Kate, this time for a stage version of David Mitchell's UPSTART CROW in the West End's Gielgud Theatre.

The first series of GENTLEMAN JACK for the BBC and HBO which saw Gemma starring opposite Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle transmitted to wide critical and audience acclaim. On the back of the show becoming BBC's biggest new drama launch of 2019 it has been confirmed that GENTLEMAN JACK will be heading into a second series.

Before this Gemma reprised her role of 'Yara Greyjoy' in the final series of GAME OF THRONES on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK, drawing huge audience figures across the globe. The show received a record breaking 32 Emmy nominations for its final season. In 2016 Gemma was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG) with her fellow GAME OF THRONES cast members, for 'Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series'.

Earlier in the year Gemma appeared on stage in A SLIGHT ACHE part of the Pinter 7 series at the Harold Pinter Theatre. She starred opposite John Heffernan and the other half of the season was THE DUMB WAITER starring Martin Freeman and Danny Dyer.

In early 2017 Gemma transformed for the role of 'Karen Matthews' in BBC drama THE MOORSIDE. The drama was based on the true story of the disappearance of schoolgirl Shannon Matthews, and the tight knit community in West Yorkshire's efforts to find her. Also starring Sheridan Smith THE MOORSIDE broke BBC records with a 9.9 million audience, which was the highest for any new drama in 15 years. Following that audiences saw Gemma opposite Jack Whitehall and David Suchet in the BBC's adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's comedy novel DECLINE AND FALL. Gemma also reprised her role of 'Kate' opposite David Mitchell in Ben Elton's UPSTART CROW. Also in 2017 Gemma starred in a monologue in BBC 4's QUEERS which was performed on stage at The Old Vic Theatre and shown as part of the BBC's Gay Britannia Season. Gemma also played 'DC Eunice Noon' in critically acclaimed dark comedy THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD' on Channel 4 and Netflix opposite Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden.

Gemma has appeared in a large number of television productions for the BBC including the role of 'Veronica' in series 2 and 3 of UNCLE, MORGANA ROBINSON'S THE AGENCY, ASYLUM, MAPP AND LUCIA, HETTY FEATHER series 2 and 3, HORRIBLE HISTORIES, as 'Josephine' in THE PERSUASIONISTS and in Tom Davis' BBC 3 hit comedy MURDER IN SUCCESSVILLE. Other television credits include NOT SAFE FOR WORK, SIBLINGS, BADULTS, THE HARRY & PAUL SHOW and THREESOME.

As a comedian Gemma has created and often performs as character Chastity Butterworth. Gemma brought the character to series 3 of LIVE AT THE ELECTRIC for BBC 3 and in 2014 recorded a pilot chat show for BBC Radio 4 called THE CHASTITY BUTTERWORTH SHOW. This was followed up by an episode of the comedy chat show on BBC Radio 4 in 2017. In 2010 Gemma won a Funny Women 'Variety' Award for her stand up comedy.

On stage Gemma has appeared as 'Gillian' in RADIANT VERMIN and as 'Andrea' in DARK VANILLA JUNGLE both at the Soho Theatre. Other theatre credits include Nicholas Hytner's ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and National Theatre, 'Chanel' in STEPHEN AND THE SEXY PARTRIDGE at the Trafalgar Studios and SHAKESPEARE FOR BREAKFAST.

In film Gemma played the role of 'Len' in Alice Lowe's PREVENGE and appeared in Universal's GULLIVER'S TRAVELS and THE WOLFMAN.


David Mitchell as William Shakespeare
David Mitchell William Shakespeare
Gemma Whelan as Kate
Gemma Whelan Kate