YORK Theatre Royal's spring season will take audiences from the the dark criminal underworld of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock to the north eastern shipyards in Sting’s The Last Ship.

The Theatre Royal and resident company Pilot Theatre present Bryony Lavery's adaptation of Brighton Rock from February 16 to March 3 under the direction of Pilot artistic director Esther Richardson with music by Hannah Peel.

"There's something about book adaptations and what they say to us now," says Theatre Royal artistic director Damian Cruden. "This one has the same quality of writing that Bryony brought to Brideshead Revisited, and Brighton Rock has a seminal place in British culture. I read it at school, when it was 'unputdownable', and it will be interesting to see how it fits into the landscape we now live in."

New work in the main house peaks with the world premiere of The Be All And End All from May 4 to 19, written by Jonathan Lewis, author of the award-winning play Our Boys, and starring Lewis's partner, Imogen Stubbs.

Damian Cruden will direct this contemporary drama of a family torn apart by a hunger for success and fear of failure that asks the question: How far would you go to get your child that coveted A*?

"I cast Jonathan in a play I ended up never doing, Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge, but we kept in touch and he sent me the script for The Be All And End All," says Cruden, now in his 21st year at the York theatre. "I read it and said I'd really like to do it, and he said 'I think I can persuade Imogen to do it, and we can play husband and wife'. 'Are you sure about that?', I said, and the answer was yes."

Stubbs and Lewis (under his stage name of Jonathan Guy Lewis) will play high achieving, successful, loving parents, who want only the very best for their son, but who is that wish really for? "They've been through the process of putting children through education system and are aware of the stresses that it puts on young people and how it doesn't recognise them as human beings," says Cruden.

"It's a play about privilege, and with privilege comes ignorance towards the well being of young people. The play is funny, it's a family saga, it's political, it's tragic in its own way. It's fast, pacy; very witty, exceptionally darkly comic in some parts, frightening in others, with lots of surprises.

"For anyone with children in secondary education, the play is a must-see as it asks parents about their expectations when they're not absolved from responsibilities towards their children. We went back 40 years under Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Education and in God's name, how does anyone think that's a good thing?"

Jonathan Lewis also has written Soldier On, a show that visits the Studio from April 4 to 7 with its exploration of what happens when a company of ex-soldiers becomes a company of actors rehearsing a play about a company of veterans and actors.

York Press:

Jonathan Guy Lewis and Imogen Stubbs in the world premiere of The Be All And End All at York Theatre Royal

Continuing the military theme, six Falklands/Malvinas war veterans who once faced each other across a battlefield face each other across a stage in Minefield in the main house from March 28 to 31, with no performance on Good Friday. In Lola Arias’s play they share memories, films, songs and photos as they recall their collective war and embody the political figures that led them into it.

"It shows how theatre and art can be helpful in the healing process," says Cruden. "It's left to art, sport and theatre to bring people back up, tidying up the mess that politicians make."

York Associate Schools Festival presents scenes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar on March 20 with eight moments from the classic play told through physical ensemble storytelling, while York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre performs Legacy on April 12 to 14, written by Paul Birch and directed by Kate Veysey, who oversees a cast that combines youth theatre actors with senior actors drawn from the community.

Gwen Taylor, star of Barbara and Duty Free, takes on the iconic role of Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s vintage comedy The Importance Of Being Earnest, on tour in the main house from April 17 to 21. She was last seen at the Theatre Royal in the thriller Night Must Fall and will be joined by Susan Penhaligon as Miss Prism in this Original Theatre Company production.

From May 22 to 26, the same company also premieres Monogamy, a new comedy by Torben Betts starring multi-Olivier and Evening Standard award-winner Janie Dee, who both first made their name under Alan Ayckbourn's artistic directorship at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. This state-of-the-nation play finds everyone's favourite TV cook facing the looming collision of living a private life in the public eye. "It's going to be wonderful to have Janie Dee here for the first time since I've been here," says Cruden.

A new adaptation of Whisky Galore, from April 24 to 28, will be a tribute to the feisty, fearless all-female touring companies of the post-war years. Witness the Pallas Players as they play all the characters from Compton Mackenzie’s tale in an innovative and beguiling play.

The UK premiere tour of Sting’s personal, political and passionate musical The Last Ship sails into York from June 25 to 30 with a cast featuring Joe McGann, Richard Fleeshman and Charlie Hardwick, but not the initially announced Auf Wiedersehen Pet star Jimmy Nail.

Spectacular circus and spellbinding songs are promised in award-winning Metta Theatre’s new adaptation of Little Mermaid: The Circus Sensation from April 4 to 7; English Touring Opera presents a new production by Blanche McIntyre of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro on June 1, followed by a Puccini double bill of one-act operas, Il Tabarro and Gianni Schicchi, on June 2.

For the full programme and tickets, go to yorktheatreroyal.co.uk. Box office: 01904 623568.