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Stage play by Peter Shaffer, opened 4 December 1985. 1985-86. Olivier Theatre (National Theatre), directed by Peter Hall.

Cast: Alan Bates (Yonadab); Patrick Stewart (David); Wendy Morgan (Tamar); Leigh Lawson (Amnon); Anthony Head (Absalom); Richard Warner (Shimeah). [Later, Patrick Stewart played Yonadab and John Bluthal played David].


  • The Times, "Spy of History." December 5, 1985, by Irving Wardle.
    "...stimulates Patrick Stewart to a rhapsodic performance in which political craft is indistinguishable from intense paternal love; which, in the case of Anthony Head's seraphic Absalom, is easy to credit." (
    complete text)

  • Financial Times, "Yonadab/Olivier" December 6, 1985, by Michael Coveney.
    "The doomed sons of David, Amnon and Absalom, are given readings of simpering energy by Leigh Lawson and Anthony Head. With the rest of their long-haired brothers, they look like members of the Living Theatre limbering up for The Mikado." (complete text)

  • The Sunday Times, "The art of the voyeur." December 8, 1985, by John Peter. (text)

  • New Statesman, December 13, 1985, by Benedict Nightingale.
    "Shaffer's tale and Peter Hall's production have their moments all right. [...] So it does when [...] Anthony Head's Absalom, "the incandescent prig," is displaying his insufferable conceit." (complete text)

  • Times Literary Supplement, "The voyeur viewed." December 20, 1985, by Clive Sinclair.
    "The trouble is, both writer and director seem to lack the necessary conviction. [...] beautiful Absalom looks as if he belongs at a Band Aid jamboree...." (complete text)

  • New York Times, "Peter Shaffer Creates Another Envious Outsider." December 22, 1985, by Benedict Nightingale.
    "Peter Hall's production in the Olivier auditorium certainly has its moments. All is well when [...] Anthony Head's trim, lithe Absalom is displaying his insufferable conceit." (complete text)

  • Newsweek, "Four From the London Stage." January 13, 1986, by Jack Kroll.
    "Notable in a superb cast are [...] Anthony Head as his self-adoring brother, Absalom,..." (complete text)

  • New York Times, "Stage: A Mixed Array of Dramas in London." May 28, 1986, by Frank Rich. (text)

  • The Times, June 25, 1986, by Martin Cropper.
    "...the narcissistic virgin Absalom (Anthony Head)." (complete text)

  • Theatre Journal, March 1987, by James Fisher.
    "...Anthony Head, wonderfully smug as the preening Absalom..." (complete text)


  • Chess playbill 1988
  • Transylvania 1992 Programme
  • Biography from ASH press kit, 1998
  • The National--The Theatre and its Work 1963-1997, by Simon Callow. London: Nick Hern Books, 1997.
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    Page created August 1998; last updated May 1999. Original material Betsy Vera ( This website is for information and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by others.

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    Alan Bates
    Anthony Head and Patrick Stewart
    Anthony Head and Patrick Stewart

    Source: Alan Bates Archive