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
31 Hours is a new play by Kieran Knowles which is to have its world premiere at The Bunker Theatre from 3 – 28 October 2017 Every 31 hours, someone takes their own life on the railways in the UK rail network. It is ten times more likely to be a man. John, Doug, Ste and Neil work on the railways. They won’t sell you a ticket and they don’t drive a train… 31 Hours is the story of four men who clean up the aftermath of rail suicides. It is about the slippery reality of mental health and the inability to communicate issues. Writer Kieran Knowles (Operation Crucible) skilfully interweaves the story of the men who clean up after incidents with those who are driven to take such desperate measures. It is an analysis of the choice and an exploration of the consequences. Filled with humour and humanity it … Read more
This is a noisy and shouty play and in many ways that is necessarily so – industrial processes, bombs, football matches, drinking in the pub – these provide the necessary loud framework around the still centre of the men trapped both literally in the cellar of the Marples Hotel and figuratively by their own fears and terrors. In some respects therefore this is too big a play for the Finborough’s tiny space.