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James I:
The Key Will Keep The Lock

10 - 20 August 2014
Festival Theatre

Part one of the James Plays, featuring James McArdle as James I and Blythe Duff as Isabella.

Bold and irreverent storytelling explores the complex character of this colourful Stewart king – a poet, a lover, a law-maker but also the product of a harsh political system.

James I of Scotland was captured when he was only 13 and became King of Scots in an English prison. Eighteen years later he's finally delivered back home with a ransom on his head and a new English bride. He's returning to a poor nation, the royal coffers are empty and his nobles are a pack of wolves ready to tear him apart at the first sign of weakness. James is determined to bring the rule of law to a land riven by warring factions, but that struggle will force him to make terrible choices if he is to save himself, his Queen and the crown.

Please note this performance contains strong language and nudity and may not be suitable for children.

Access Information

Captions and signing cannot be viewed from the stage seats. Please book seats in the auditorium. If you have access needs regarding mobility, there are no wheelchair spaces on the stage, please call Hub Tickets on 0131 473 2089 to book the seats most appropriate for your needs.

Latecomers who have stage seats will not be admitted until the interval.

A co-production by the National Theatre of Scotland, the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain

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  • Language: 
    Performed in English
  • Touch tour:
    Tuesday 12 August 6.15pm
  • Running time: 
    2 hours and 30 minutes approximately
  • Audio described:
    Tuesday 12 August 7.15pm, Sunday 17 August 11.45am
  • BSL interpretted:
    Saturday 16 August 12 noon
  • Captioned:
    Tuesday 12 August 7.30pm, Sunday 17 August 12 noon


Festival Theatre

13-29 Nicolson Street,

Supported through the Scottish Government's Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund


  • Touch tour
  • British sign language
  • Audio described
  • Captioned performance
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    By Rona Munro
    World Premiere

    National Theatre of Scotland and National Theatre of Great Britain

    Laurie Sansom Director
    Jon Bausor Designer

    Featuring James McArdle as James I and Blythe Duff as Isabella

    Cast members Cameron Barnes, Daniel Cahill, Peter Forbes, Sarah Higgins, Stephanie Hyam, Rona Morison, Andrew Rothney, Mark Rowley, Jamie Sives and Fiona Wood

    Photo: David Eustace

    This event was part of a previous International Festival and is therefore unavailable to book.

    The 2018 International Festival will be available to browse online in the spring.


    Grand circle: £35 £25 £15 £12
    Stalls: £35 £25 £20 £15
    Stage seats: £15

    Current discounts

    Buy all 3 James Plays: 20% off
    Under 18s: 50% off
    Students: 50% off
    Young Scot cardholders: 50% off
    Senior citizens: 50% off
    Unemployed people: 50% off
    Equity/MU cardholders: 50% off