It’s curtain up on a great new theatrical season

John Godber
John Godber
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In another look at the region’s theatres, Arts Editor Nick Ahad sees what’s coming up in 2014 across venues in Yorkshire.

IT is a mark of just how strong theatre in Yorkshire is, that two pages in last week’s Culture was inadequate a space to cover what’s coming up in our theatres in 2014.

Britain remains a leading manufacturer on the world stage – of theatre. While London might be the epicentre of where much of our foreign export is created, Yorkshire is undoubtedly one of the strongest regions of the country when it comes to theatre.

In York, the ancient city’s producing theatre has a pantomime star who is literally world famous – which is why Berwick Kaler’s panto runs for quite so long – it doesn’t close until February 1. Once the show does finally come down, it will be making way for another Yorkshire institution. From February 14 February to March 1 the theatre is joining forces with the Consortium Theatre Company and Bolton Octagon to present a new production of Brassed Off. Adapted by Paul Allen, and based on the screenplay by Mark Herman, this production coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike of 1984. Featuring The Railway Children Institute Golden Rail Band, this funny and heart-warming drama is a celebration of human endeavour and community spirit in a triumph against all the odds. While it’s an old favourite, it’s going to be another hit for the theatre.

A few years ago the studio played host to Blue/Orange, a brilliant piece of work. In staging A Number, another intense chamber piece, it is following in that tradition – an intelligent exploration of the nature of identity, it looks at a father, his son and his son’s two clones. Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit comes to the theatre in May and in the summer it will see once again one of artistic director Damian Cruden’s impressive stagings – this time Wind in the Willows with the irrepressible Martin Barrass starring.

Harrogate Theatre has won a lot of friends in the world of comedy – Andy Parsons recently described it as one of his favourite theatre in the world – and it keeps the comedic credentials by playing host to some of the top comics on the circuit including, Miles Jupp, Chris Ramsey, Russell Kane and Ed Byrne in the first two months of 2014. Once the comedians move on, the theatre welcomes a comedic play in the shape of Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce in February.

In January, Wakefield Theatre Royal is unveiling a new production of John Godber’s Bouncers – the interesting thing about this production is that it is a new production that goes back to an old production.

Godber, whose company will co-produce the show with Wakefield, has refound his faith in the original piece and intends to stage it as it was first seen three decades ago.

Mark Babych, artistic director at Hull Truck, is finding his feet after the theatre’s turbulent few years following the loss of its artistic director. He is working on the coming season, but the fact that Godber is being welcomed into the building and that Babych is directing the Shelagh Delaney modern classic A Taste of Honey is an interesting combination. The Delaney play has been done in the region in recent years, so it will be interesting to see what new take Babych brings.

I am constantly impressed by Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. The theatre is not the most glamorous in not the most glamorous town, but it continues to programme bold and brilliant work under the leadership of Victoria Firth. Much of the season can be recommended, but it remains one of the leading venues for bringing dance to the region.

It’s going to be yet another good year for Yorkshire theatres.

Nick Ahad’s critic’s choice

My Romantic History: Written by DC Jackson, this had an early showing in Sheffield. It is beautiful, brilliant and hilarious. Harrogate Theatre, February 27-March 8.

A Number: It’s difficult to explain just how good this play is. It will stretch your intellect and exhilarate at the same time. York Theatre Royal, May 1-24.

Lost Boy Racer: This world premiere comes from the writer and producer of The Last Cuckoo, Julie Amanda Bokowiec; director Liz Postlethwaite; and features an extraordinary set by metal sculptor Tim Tolkien. Lawrence Batley Theatre, June 25-27.

A Taste of Honey: In all honesty, I’m not sure what’s new to say about this classic, but Mark Babych has an impressive reputation and it will be intriguing to see his first show for Hull Truck. March.