The Fool (2005)

John Clare
Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre, RADA
March 17-26, 2005
directed by Paul Jepson

An account of the life of the poet John Clare, The Fool is set against rural dissent and industrialisation, an interrogation of the relationships of capitalism, class and art that burns with pain and anger.

The Fool sees Clare taking part in the Littleport riots of 1816, when England was steeped in unemployment, high prices and low pay, and the labourers of Littleport in Cambridgeshire attacked the shops and wealthier residents of the town. Bond’s play shows the parson being looted, stripped and clawed by the workers who accuse him of starving their children. Living with hardship and unrest, Clare’s life is torn into pieces as the woman he loves disappears, the countryside is eaten up by the advance of industrialisation, his fashionable and condescending patrons refuse to print what they call radicalism, and illness and literary fervour mean he cannot provide for his family.

The Fool was first performed in 1975 at the Royal Court Theatre, London.  DOL

Hiddleston speaking with Colbert on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,
March 29, 2016:

"Well actually... There’s always a moment in training where you’re given a role and you have to be comfortable with nakedness. They see it as part of the training. Sometimes if a scene does require it then I don’t have a problem with it."

Even so, he becomes rather flustered and blushes adorably when he is asked to reveal his first ever nude scene.

"It was an Edward Bond play about the poet John Clare and there's a love scene," Hiddleston says. "Edward Bond was very specific that there should be nudity because otherwise he doesn’t believe in it. I was 22 at the time."  Express