A mix of comedy, thrillers and murder mysteries fill the new season from The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton
The venue on Clare Street seats 85, and produces a number of in-house productions each year, as well as hosting productions from the likes of Masque Theatre, White Cobra and Spears-Indi, and regular stand-up appearances from Northamptonshire’s own James Acaster.
September sees the venue tackling Kenneth Horne’s comedy “Love In A Mist” under Weekes Baptiste‘s direction, which centres around two couples taking refuge from the fog in an Exmoor bungalow, while Sam Holcroft’s “Rules for Living” (dir. Philip Welsh) brings in the Christmas spirit in December.
The season also features timeless classic “Jekyll and Hyde” in November – adapted by Leonard Caddy and directed for The Playhouse by Juliet O’Connor, it is perfect for those currently studying Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella at GCSE.
Three further productions make up the 2019 half of the season – “Deathtrap” by Ira Levin (dir. Kevin Evans) a dramatic comedy which runs from 19-23 February, “84 Charing Cross Road” by James Roose-Evans (dir. Rob Kendall), the dramatisation of 20 years of correspondence between a young struggling writer in New York and an antiquarian book store in London (16-20 April), and finally “Murdered To Death” by Peter Gordon, a spoof Agatha Christie style murder mystery from 6-9 July 2018.
A spokesperson from the venue said “The Playhouse Theatre is really looking forward to presenting our new 2018/19 season to our audiences. We have worked hard to create a nicely varied season, ranging from classic gothic tales like Jekyll & Hyde to riotous modern-day comedy like Rules for Living, and a little bit of thriller action in Deathtrap. With these, plus three other classics, we feel sure will provide something for everyone over the next year.”
They are also looking for a new director for Murdered To Death, stating that it would be a great production for someone interested in learning more about directing to cut their teeth on, under the guidance of more experienced Playhouse directors.
LOVE IN A MIST by Kenneth Horne
18 to 22 September 2018
Comedy / 3m 3f
Love in a Mist, by Kenneth Horne, centres around two separate couples who take refuge in a bungalow from the fog on Exmoor. One couple continues their honeymoon, while the other fall in love.
DIRECTOR: Weekes Baptiste
JEKYLL & HYDE by Leonard Caddy
30 October to 3 November 2018
Melodrama / 4m, 4f, 1boy(s) or girl(s)
In this retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous story, Dr. Jekyll is introduced just as he is on the brink of discovering the key to man’s inner reality. One evening he experiments on himself and finds that his formula works. Unfortunately, his “real” self turns out to be the monster Edward Hyde. Jekyll continues his researches, spending more and more time as Hyde until this horrifying character takes over. Jekyll’s fiancee and friends slowly become aware of the changes in him but are powerless to help. Jekyll himself finds it more and more difficult to keep Hyde at bay, and his initial delight soon turns to despair. When Hyde brutally murders one of the young maids, he realizes his experiment has gone too far, and he takes the only possible course of action left to him.
DIRECTOR: Juliet O’Connor
RULES FOR LIVING by Sam Holcroft
11 to 15 December 2018
Comedy / 3m 4f
The play’s action is set in an open-plan kitchen/living room or kitchen-conservatory where Edith and her family are gathering for lunch on Christmas Day. Edith plans everything with military precision, but her plans are destined to be thrown into disarray. Her son Matthew arrives partnered by a nervously jocular actor, Carrie, but secretly nurses a passion for his sister-in-law, Sheena. And Sheena, a compulsive drinker, is unable to contain her anger at her cynical, underachieving husband, Adam, or her concern for their psychologically damaged daughter, Emma. After the short opening scene, each subsequent scene is introduced with a ‘rule’ (eg ‘Matthew must sit to tell a lie’, ‘Edith must clean to keep calm’), which is displayed to the audience for the duration of the scene. The characters adhere to these rules, even as they accumulate alarmingly (each rule, once it appears, applies throughout the rest of the play). In the play’s second act, the rules are modified by a conditional element, so that each rule is activated until a specific condition is met: ‘Matthew must sit and eat to tell a lie… until he gets a compliment’. Eventually, as the family gathering descends into chaos, all the rules are obscured by a title card stating that ‘ANARCHY RULES’.
Availability by request
License via Nick Hern
DIRECTOR: Philip Welsh
DEATHTRAP by Ira Levin
19 to 23 February 2019
Dramatic Comedy / 3m, 2f
A hugely popular stage and screen success, this ingeniously constructed play offers a rare and skilful blending of two priceless theatrical ingredients – gasp-inducing thrills and spontaneous laughter. Unknown dramatist Clifford Anderson has sent his new thriller to award-winning Broadway author Sidney for comment – or has he – Without a success to his credit for some years, Sidney plots with his reluctant wife Myra about how best to plagiarize ‘Deathtrap’ and when Clifford turns up to discuss the play with the ‘Master’ events take a sinister turn.
DIRECTOR: Kevin Evans
84 CHARING CROSS ROAD by James Roose-Evans
16 to 20 April 2019
Drama / 3m, 4f
This wonderful show is a dramatization of business letters between a young struggling writer in New York and an antiquarian book store in London. In a sense, these are also love letters. They are about the love of good literature. The play takes place over a twenty year period, beginning in 1949 when Helene Hanff (played on Broadway by Ellen Burstyn) first writes Marks & Co. and ends in 1969 with the death of Frank Doel, the delightfully dusty supplier of so many old volumes to Helen who has shown her gratitude through the years by sending “care packages” to the staff of Marks & Co.
DIRECTOR: Rob Kendall
MURDERED TO DEATH by Peter Gordon
2 to 6 July 2019
Comedy Thriller / 5m 5f
From the author of Out of Focus comes this hilarious spoof of the best Agatha Christie traditions, with an assembled cast of characters guaranteed to delight: Bunting the butler, an English Colonel with the prerequisite stiff upper lip, a shady French art dealer and his moll, bumbling local inspectors and a well meaning local sleuth who seems to attract murder – they’re all here, and all caught up in the side-splitting antics which follow the mysterious death of the owner of a country manor house. But will the murderer be unmasked before everyone else has met their doom, or will audiences die laughing first?