Mark Rylance returns to the West End this summer in Dr Semmelweis opening at the Harold Pinter Theatre on 11 July, with previews from 29 June, and running until Saturday 7 October. The critically acclaimed Bristol Old Vic production, directed by Tom Morris, opened in 2022, and sees Rylance reprise the title role.

Mark Rylance said today, "Here is a person who makes one of the most important discoveries in modern medicine - what we now call ‘Bacteria’ - and yet he is pretty much unknown because for forty years, until Louis Pasteur and Dr Lister make the same discovery, no one will listen to him. Why?

“I was intrigued. The inspiration to act our story with a chorus of ballet dancers and a quartet representing the many thousands of mothers who perished unnecessarily, makes this a very powerful piece of theatre for me. I am thrilled to be reviving it in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre."

With preview tickets from £10 and over 350 tickets a week at £25 or less, the production will play for a strictly limited 14-week run.

Booking for National Theatre Members, Bristol Old Vic Members and ATG Theatre Card Members opens on 17 March at midday.
To sign up for advance booking, please go to by 22 March – with tickets available from 24 March for those who have signed up, and for SFP Mailing List Members.
Public booking opens on 31 March at midday.

Sonia Friedman Productions and the National Theatre present
the Bristol Old Vic Production of
By Stephen Brown with Mark Rylance
Based on an original idea by Mark Rylance

Directed by Tom Morris; Set and Costume Design by Ti Green; Lighting Design by Richard Howell
Choreography by Antonia Franceschi; Music by Adrian Sutton

“We are the doctors of the modern age. We are marching into battle.”

Mark Rylance returns to the West End as one of medicine’s greatest pioneers, maverick Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis – the man whose research could save many millions of mothers’ lives.
But what good is a discovery when it falls on deaf ears?

In Vienna, a city of artistic and scientific revolution, thousands of women are still dying in childbirth each and every year. Only Dr Semmelweis can see the invisible killer at work, but to stop it, he must convince his colleagues to admit culpability and approve change.

Damned by an establishment that questions his methods, his motives and even his sanity, Semmelweis is haunted by the women he has failed to save. Can he finally convince the greatest doctors of 19th century Europe to accept his argument – and what will it cost him to make an almost impossible case?

Following a “smash hit” (Mail on Sunday), sold-out run at Bristol Old Vic, this “compelling new drama” (The Telegraph) directed by Tom Morris, featuring live music by Adrian Sutton and original choreography by Antonia Franceschi of Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, comes to the Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End for a strictly limited run this summer.

In association with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Mark Rylance plays Dr Semmelweis. His theatre credits include Othello (Shakespeare’s Globe), Farinelli and the King (Shakespeare’s Globe/Duke of York’s Theatre/Belasco Theatre), Nice Fish (Harold Pinter Theatre – also co-writer with Louis Jenkins), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe/Apollo Theatre/Belasco Theatre – Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play), Richard III (Shakespeare’s Globe/Apollo Theatre/ Belasco Theatre), Jerusalem (Royal Court Theatre/Apollo Theatre/Music Box Theatre – Olivier Award for Best Actor and Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play, and Apollo Theatre 2022), La Bête (Comedy Theatre/Music Box Theatre), Boeing-Boeing (Apollo Theatre/Cort Theatre – Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play) and Much Ado About Nothing (Queen’s Theatre – Olivier Award for Best Actor). Rylance was the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare's Globe for 10 years (1996-2006). His television credits include Wolf Hall - BAFTA Award for Best Actor and an Emmy nomination. His film credits include Institute Benjamenta, Bridge of Spies – Academy Award and BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor, The BFG, Ready Player One, Dunkirk, Waiting for the Barbarians, The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Phantom of the Open, Don’t Look Up, Bones and All, and The Outfit.

Tom Morris has been Associate Director at the National Theatre since 2004. He was Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic from 2009 to 2022, where he re-established the theatre’s programme after closure, conceived and directed two landmark festivals (Bristol Proms, festival of world class music and integrated digital technology in collaboration with Watershed Bristol and Universal Music, and Bristol Jam: Britain’s first festival of improvised performance). He also oversaw a major restoration and refurbishment of Britain’s oldest continuously working theatre – creating direct visibility from the street for the very first time. He was Artistic Director of BAC from 1995 to 2004 where he established the scratch developmental programme, restructured the organisation, set up and curated A Sharp Intake of Music, Playing in the Dark, the British Festival of Visual Theatre and the Sam Shepard Festival, and BAC Opera, where he produced Jerry Springer the Opera. His work as a director includes Juliet and her Romeo, The Meaning of Zong (with Giles Terera), Cyrano, King Lear, Touching the Void, The Grinning Man, Swallows & Amazons and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (all for Bristol Old Vic and/or West End/International tour), Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (Vienna Statsoper), Breaking the Waves (Scottish Opera/ Opera Ventures, EIF, Opera Comique, Adelaide Festival), The Death of Klinghoffer (ENO & Metropolitan Opera), Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (NT), War Horse (NT, Lincoln Center and world tour (winning numerous awards including Tony for Best Director, with co-director Marianne Elliott)), Disembodied, Newsnight: The Opera, Home, Passions, Unsung, Othello Music, Trio and All That Fall (all for BAC). Writing includes A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker (Bristol Old Vic), World Cup Final 1966, Jason & the Argonauts and Ben Hur (all with Carl Heap for BAC), The Wooden Frock, Nights at the Circus and A Matter of Life and Death (all with Emma Rice for Kneehigh) and the libretto for Orpheus in Hell for ENO. Morris was founding Chair of the JMK Trust, is the current Chair of Complicité, has honorary doctorates from UWE and Bristol University, and an OBE for services to Theatre.