Yorkshire’s theatre highlights this autumn - part 2
Well, this week has brought more instances of that most modern malaise, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) as I have watched colleagues and contemporaries have a brilliant time at the Edinburgh Festival. Good luck to them, say I. I also say let’s make ourselves feel better by looking at what we can book to see in the coming season and following up now on that ‘to be continued’.
Last week’s look into the future was a cherry picking affair, but I think this week I’ll be slightly more methodical and work my way around the county. Again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I cannot emphasise enough just how fortunate we are to have the level and quality of theatre being made in the region at the moment.
North, in Scarborough, Paul Robinson is doing a brilliant job of sensitively programming the Stephen Joseph Theatre. He pays plenty of respect to the giant’s shoulders on which the place is built, putting Sir Alan Ayckbourn at the centre of the theatre’s offering, but also slips in some highly inventive programming too.
In October watch out for the new play from former Yorkshire man Oliver Emanuel. In the mid 2000s he was writer in residence at what was then the West Yorkshire Playhouse and has since gone on to win all manner of awards for his writing both for stage and radio. His new play, The Monstrous Heart, is set in a rustic cabin in the Canadian wilds and pits a mother and her estranged daughter against each other in the forests. The play receives its world premiere in Scarborough before heading to Edinburgh’s Traverse later in the year. It’s quite a coup to have landed for Scarborough. Speaking of theatrical coups, Ayckbourn is back with a brand new play, but the autumn is littered with chances to celebrate the great man. One thing I am particularly excited by is the September 20-22 mini festival of the work of Ayckbourn that has been turned into movies.
The weekend will give audiences the chance to see French director Alain Resnais’ Smoking, No Smoking and Private Fears in Public Places. There will also be screenings of the BBC’s Absurd Person Singular and Intimate Exchanges. Throw in a very special evening celebrating the work of Ayckbourn on September 29, and this is a bumper season for the playwright’s fans.
A little down the coast to Hull Truck, where Mark Babych has done stirling work to make the theatre feel relevant to the city. It feels like there are an awful lot of visiting shows flying in and out of the venue this season, but the two shows to really get your teeth into are the big Christmas spectacular and an exciting new production of one of modern theatre’s most disturbing works.
Martin McDonagh is known for his work in film these days, with In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but his early work was theatrical – and how. In Beauty Queen of Leenane, which Babych himself is directing (October 3-6), the audience will be treated to just about the most compellingly disturbing relationships you’ll see on a stage. Slightly different is Peter Pan. Deborah McAndrew, who seems to have turned the Christmas theatre season into her own, is at the helm of the script in what will surely be another hit over the festive period.
Sheffield has been enjoying an impressive run of form of late, with Life of Pi the latest hit show. I suspect there will be a similar response to the autumn’s big show The Last King of Scotland. Based on the novel by Giles Foden, it was famously turned into a movie starring James McAvoy Forest Whitaker. It has now been adapted for the stage, for the first time, by Steve Waters and will be directed by Gbolahan Obisesan – whose work was last seen in Yorkshire when he directed Random at Leeds Playhouse. Expect big things when it is at the Crucible (September 27 to October 19).
In Bradford I highly recommend you see what’s coming up at Theatre in the Mill, the little venue that punches far, far above its weight from the city’s university campus and I also suggest you look up what’s happening at Kala Sangam, a place which feels like it has been reinvigorated and has new purpose and direction. There’s lots to look out for in the city’s major receiving house, the Alhambra, but these two venues might be overlooked – which would be a mistake.
Leeds Playhouse, when it reopens, is going to be hugely significant and last week I recommended seeing There Are No Beginnings, but also worth looking out for are the first stage production of Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Laundrette, the returning Barbershop Chronicles and the Christmas show, something which has become a pretty much guaranteed spectacular, The Wizard of Oz.
York Theatre Royal is going through a transitional period and it will take a little while for the organisation to settle down. In the meantime it has some interesting programming – there’s plenty to go at in the coming season, but two particular highlights I’d pick out include How To Be Amazingly Happy by Victoria Firth (October 25) and the returning How To Build a Rocket (September 21) which began its life in Scarborough.
Essentially, we have a huge amount happening in the region and we are incredibly well provided for. Now you just have to decide what you’ll see. I’ll see you at the theatre.