Yorkshire Season at York Theatre Royal

Barrie Rutter, who will be seen in Rutherford & Son

Barrie Rutter, who will be seen in Rutherford & Son

First published in Theatre by

THE upcoming Yorkshire Season at York Theatre Royal will extend beyond the theatre’s repertory productions to embrace visiting companies too.

The touring production of Susan Hill’s terrifying thriller The Woman In Black, for example, has its roots in Scarborough, where director Robin Herford asked playwright-in-residence Stephen Mallatratt to write a new adaptation for the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1987.

It has since played in the West End for 23 years to more than seven million people, and this ghostly slice of theatre noir will now visit York from February 25 to March 2.

Likewise, another West End mainstay, the comedy thriller The 39 Steps, began life in Yorkshire, first with an adaptation for Richmond’s North Country Theatre by artistic director Nobby Dimon, whose script was then the starting point for Patrick Barlow’s subsequent reinvention at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds.

It is Barlow’s version of John Buchan’s spy thriller that can be seen in York from March 26 to 30, when four fearless actors will play 139 roles in 100 minutes of frantic action as handsome hero Richard Hannay responds to dastardly murders, double-crossing secret agents and devastatingly beautiful women with a stiff upper lip.

No Yorkshire season would be complete without Barry Rutter’s Halifax company Northern Broadsides, who are booked in for May 28 to June 1. Jonathan Miller, no less, is in the guest director’s chair for Rutherford & Son, written by Githa Sowerby and now edited for Broadsides by regular collaborator Blake Morrison.

Set in the north of England in 1912, this unflinching portrait of an industrial Edwardian family on the brink of collapse revolves around John Rutherford, a tyrannical patriarch blind to the hopes and feelings of his family. The success of the Rutherford & Son glassworks takes precedence over everything, even happiness, and when a catastrophic family mutiny unfolds, it threatens to destroy his world and his factory.

To coincide with Northern Broadsides’ visit, the Flanagan Collective will present York playwright and actress Hannah Davies’s Githa, directed by Peter Darney for a Studio run from May 28 to June 1.

The play opens in London 1912, when KG Sowerby’s play Rutherford & Son is an overnight hit, but her work has since been overlooked and Davies’s one-woman show now tells the forgotten story of this feminist icon and her impact on a man’s world.

York Settlement Players’ contribution to the Yorkshire Season will be the first staging in York of Sheffield playwright Laura Wade’s Breathing Corpses.

Directed by Anna Siobhan Wilcox in a Studio run from March 6 to 16, this Olivier Award-nominated play is a murderous jigsaw of death, despair and domestic violence, set against the backdrop of mundane modern existence.

Events unfold out of sequence, with the blackest of black humour in the grimmest of circumstances as Amy finds yet another corpse in a hotel room, Jim is growing suspicious of the smell coming from one of his storage units and Kate discovers a female body while walking the dog.

TongueTied Theatre in tandem with the Theatre Royal take the Yorkshire Season on to the theatre patio from April 9 to 13 for The Revenge Of Mr Trout, a chaotic, madcap, interactive outdoor adventure for seven to 12 year olds.

Back indoors, York performance punk poet Henry Raby is hand-picking “some of the best poets Yorkshire has to offer” for the Words & Whippets Poetry Night showcase on May 25 in the Studio. Taking part will be spoken-word artists from York, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and Beverley.

The TakeOver 2013 festival, when the theatre is run by a team aged 26 or under, will stage Neil LaBute’s The Mercy Seat as part of the Yorkshire Season in the Studio from June 6 to 15.

The play was written in response to the events of September 11 2001 when LaBute’s reaction to his plane from Chicago to New York being cancelled was “this is inconvenient”.

LaBute depicts how Ben sees a way out of his marriage in the aftermath of a national tragedy, but over the course of an evening he and his lover are forced to examine their affair and to explore the meaning of love, commitment, identity and what it means to abandon your past.

Tickets can be booked on 01904 623568 or online at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

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