Four world premieres and two UK premieres feature in the new season announced for London’s Park Theatre, with casts including Tracy-Ann Oberman and Miriam Margolyes.
The main house will present new plays by Irish writer and actor Eugene O’Hare, The Weatherman and Sydney & the Old Girl, as well as Bianca Bagatourian’s The Time of Our Lies, Evan Placey’s Mother of Him and a new adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.
It will also include the previously announced world premiere of murder mystery Whodunnit [Unrehearsed], with a different unrehearsed, unscripted guest performer each night including Gillian Anderson, John Bishop, Jim Broadbent, Simon Callow, Ronan Keating, Damian Lewis, Joanna Lumley and Catherine Tate.
In the smaller Park90, the season will feature Christopher Durang’s The Actor’s Nightmare, Taz Skylar & Ross Berkeley Simpson’s Warheads, Kate Barton’s thriller Fast, Olivia Olsen’s Stray Dogs, and two revivals, Charlotte Jones’s comedy Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis and Lesley Storm’s 1949 thriller Black Chiffon.
For the first time, Park Theatre revealed it would also bring a selection of shows from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for a week of performances in September.
The theatre also announced a new free membership scheme for young people, Park Up, providing access to benefits including £10 tickets during the first week of performances, £5 rush tickets on selected shows, free professional development workshops and other discounts.
The season opens in Park200 with Bianca Bagatourian’s The Time of Our Lies from 30 July to 10 August 2019 in association with How It Is Productions. Directed by Ché Walker, it tells the real-life story of American historian Howard Zinn from his role as a bomber in World War Two through to his post-war activism. Nominated for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award in 2014, it features songs using Zinn’s own words, with composition by Gamal Chasten and choreography by Maureen Fleming.
Next will be the first of the two new plays by Eugene O’Hare, black comedy-drama The Weatherman, running from 15 August to 14 September. Directed by Alice Hamilton, it is centred on two broke flatmates who become complicit in their landlord’s dark business scheme. With a cast including Mark Hadfield, it is being presented with Anthology Theatre, Eilene Davidson and Featuristic Stage.
Evan Placey’s Mother of Him runs from 18 September to 26 October, with Tracy-Ann Oberman starring as a single Jewish mother dealing with the repercussions of her criminal son. Directed by Max Lindsay, it is based on a true story and described as a powerful and provocative drama that questions what it takes for a mother to stop loving her son. It is being presented by Park Theatre with Jacob Thomas and Oliver Mackwood Productions.
O’Hare’s second play having its world premiere will be black comedy Sydney & the Old Girl from 31 October to 30 November, starring Hadfield again alongside Miriam Margolyes. Directed by Phillip Breen, it follows a twisted game between a mother and son who have shared the same shabby house for 50 years and their power struggle after the arrival of a care worker.
The new version of The Snow Queen, written by Charles Way, will run from 4 December to 4 January 2020, presented by Park Theatre with Julie Clare Productions. Directed by Abigail Anderson, it is a family show from the team behind the theatre’s 2018/19 hit Peter Pan
In Park90, the new season opens with The Actor’s Nightmare, drawn from the works of Tony Award-winning writer Christopher Durang, developed by 3 Hearts Canvas and Over Here Theatre Company. Running from 16 July to 10 August 2019, it explores the entertainment industry through biting satire and surreal comedy, including the UK premiere of some of the playwright’s finest works: Mrs Sorken; Desire, Desire, Desire; Business Lunch at the Russian Tea Room; Woman Stand-Up; Medea; and The Actor’s Nightmare. Directed by Lydia Parker, it has a cast including Meaghan Martin, Stefan Menaul and Kate Sumpter plus design by Anna Driftmier.
Based on a true story, punchy urban drama Warheads asks what happens to youth when they are sent to war, following the lives of young British soldiers returning home from the front line. Running from 15 August to 7 September and presented with True Maverick Media, it features a cast including Jahannah James, Sarah Naudi and Taz Skylar who wrote it with Ross Berkeley Simpson along with spoken word by Suli Breaks. It will be directed by Toby Clarke.
Park Theatre has teamed up with Essex’s 82-year-old Frinton Summer Theatre – the UK’s longest running rep theatre – to stage a revival of Lesley Storm’s 1949 psychological thriller Black Chiffon which follows the fallout for a family when a wealthy woman shoplifts in a moment of madness, based on a true story. Directed by Frinton Summer Theatre artistic director Clive Brill, it will run from 18 September to 12 October after the production’s premiere in Frinton-on-Sea from 6 to 10 August.
Another thriller, Kate Barton’s Fast, follows from 15 October to 9 November, presented with Digital Drama Productions after sell-out shows at Brighton and Edinburgh fringe festivals. It explores the horrific consequences of “Dr” Linda Hazzard who advocated a fasting-based miracle cure that captivated and then devastated a nation. Directed by Kate Valentine, it has a cast including Caroline Lawrie.
Olivia Olsen’s Stray Dogs is based on the true-life experiences of the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, who was approached in 1940 to work for the Stalinist regime that had purged her husband and imprisoned her son. It explores the nature of tyranny and how it affects the political landscape of the past and the present. Running from 13 November to 7 December in association with Dead Letter Perfect, it will be directed by Robin Herford with a cast featuring Olsen herself.
Concluding the Park90 season in December, Charlotte Jones’s modern classic, Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis, promises an alternative “adults only” Christmas treat about a dominatrix whose favourite client decides to throw her a birthday party. Presented from 11 December to 4 January 2020 with Signal Theatre Company, it will be directed by Robert Wolstenholme.
Park Theatre’s artistic director, Jez Bond, said: “I look forward to continuing to welcome audiences through our doors over the coming year as we strive to present the best possible work on our stages, with accessible and affordable experiences for all.”