After 60 years of production The Nuffield Theatre in Southampton closed its doors due to Covid 19. We mark the venue’s great contribution to regional theatre with a production of Nick Dear’s Dedication, which he wrote for the Theatre in 2016 – a year dedicated to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. It was written to commemorate both Nick’s and Shakespeare’s connection with Southampton. Nick Dear grew up in the city.

Shakespeare’s relationship with the Earl of Southampton has been the centre of much debate. Was he perhaps Shakespeare’s lover? Shakespeare dedicated his poems The Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis to Southampton and it has been suggested that Southampton is the fair youth of the Sonnets.

Nick plays with three possibilities that may or may not explain an important period of Shakespeare’s life, sometimes referred to as The Lost Years, giving the audience the opportunity to make up their own minds. Much more is known about the Earl of Southampton than about William Shakespeare. It’s entirely possible that they never met, but it is equally possible they were lovers. No-one knows.

Dear puts Shakespeare on trial, where he is questioned about his relationship with the gay, cross dressing Earl of Southampton. It is set in Elizabethan England and it is a play of intrigue, sex, politics and power.


  • Alfred Enoch as William Shakespeare
  • Sam Dale as Lord Chief Justice
  • Tom Glenister as Harry, Earl of Southampt

Other roles played by:

  • Declan Mason
  • Finlay Paul
  • Nick Armfield
  • Tallulah Bond
  • Writer: Nick Dear
  • Producer/Director: Celia de Wolff
  • Sound Designer: Lucinda Mason Brown
  • Broadcast Assistant: Anna de wolff Evans

This is a 2 part drama that airs on Sunday 4 April 2021 at 3pm and continues Monday 5 April at 2pm on BBC Radio 4