Review - King John at the Holy Sepulchre Church, Northampton

King John being performed in Northampton
King John being performed in Northampton

A uniquely beautiful atmosphere awaits an audience for this Shakespearean tale.

King John transports the church back in time to a twelfth century world of politics, power struggles, unlikely alliances and inheritance battles.

The surrounding environs of the show is one of the most stand out things about this play. Set within a beautiful 12th century church, the audience is based either side of a walkway where the actors perform and the whole church is lit by candles.

It is like travelling back in time and the production side of the show is simply outstanding. The costumes look fabulous and the music played live throughout the play enhanced by the church’s acoustics is a delight for the ears.

The downside of the audience so close to the action is that during the superbly choreographed fight sequences, you do find yourself flinching during the sword fights.

Kudos also has to go to an excellent ensemble cast who carry nearly two-and-a-half hours worth of text and none of them put a foot wrong. It would be harsh to single out anyone in particular as they all did an excellent job.

It is a shame that at some moments throughout the show, a few actors give us the standard Shakespearean booming earnestness. There is a little more light and shade in the dialogue than came across in the performance and personally, taking the performances down a notch would have made this more captivating and allowed the audience to laugh at some of the funnier scenes.

It is probably not the most accessible plays as many are put off by it being Shakespeare. However, the unique presentation by the in house creative team at the Royal and Derngate in Northampton, makes this show worth checking out. Especially for afficionados of the Bard.

King John can be seen until Saturday May 15. For tickets, call the box office on 01604 624811 or visit