Mark Ludmon examines the year ahead for regional theatre in 2018. Bolton girl Maxine Peake has made her mark on TV and the London stage but she returns to her roots with her second play, Queens of the Coal Age. Based on the true story of four women in Lancashire during the miners’ strike in the 1980s, it will be at the Royal Exchange in Manchester from 28 June to 21 July. Also at the Royal Exchange, Maxine Peake will star in Sarah Frankcom’s new production of Beckett’s Happy Days from 25 May to 23 June. Other highlights coming up at the Royal Exchange include Julie Hesmondhalgh in Kendall Feaver’s new play The Almighty Sometimes and April De Angelis’s new adaptation of Frankenstein. A new production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard directed by Michael Boyd, the former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, will come to the Royal Exchange … Read more
Following the enormous success of their production of Sweeney Todd at Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop, Tooting Arts Club will revive their production of Barbarians by Barrie Keeffe at the former Central Saint Martins School of Art Building in Soho. In 1977, Britain had just emerged from a worldwide recession. It was the Queen’s silver jubilee year but Paul, Jan and Louis had little to celebrate. With widespread youth unemployment and little opportunity on the horizon, there was anarchy in the air. Barbarians follows the fluctuating fortunes of its three male characters on a journey that is as humorous as it is brutal, to the soundtrack of The Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Jam. Saint Martins provides the perfect setting, steeped in the punk culture of that time, to revive this acclaimed production which is as relevant now as it was then. “I’m delighted that Barbarians is going to … Read more
Eschewing grandeur and wisely opting to follow that sensible motto, Less Is More, this transfer of the Tooting Arts Club production of late 2014 is a complete triumph in every way. It takes you by the throat and clasps you firmly in its thrall for its entire duration. It is shockingly powerful, brutally honest, raw and rich at the same time. A cast of eight, a band of three, clever but simple lighting, the potent power of blood and candles, economy in every department, a dedication to the text and the score: these are the ingredients of this absolute success.