Inequality and sexual politics in the workplace are common themes in the theatre today, but not something you would expect from a 1930’s play. However, London Wall, at the Abbey Theatre from next week, is set in a City solicitor’s office at that time. It’s a fascinating and touching play that strongly evokes the atmosphere of the time, and the concerns of working women.
Family relations don’t come much more painful than those depicted in Sophocles’ standout story of revenge Electra. And the two-and-a-half thousand year-old play about honour, justice and vengence will be the Company of Ten’s next production. This highly accessible version by Kenneth McLeish uses clear modern language and themes to ensure a rich theatrical experience for today’s audiences, who will recognise the idea of expedient, vengeful killing from current news stories.
The next production by the Company of Ten will take audiences back to the 1970’s, with one of the best loved comedies of the time, Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh. Like most of Leigh’s projects, Abigail’s Party was devised by the cast developing their characters and the story through improvisation.
The Birthday of the Infanta is a special performance which takes place at the Trestle Arts Theatre, St Albans on 2 - 5th March. "Adults and young people alike are invited by the Infanta, the Spanish princess
I still have strong memories of watching Abigail's Party on the BBC back in 1977. I was a young teenager and alternately bemused, amused and appalled at what I saw and heard. It left a lasting impression and I have followed the work of Mike Leigh and Alison Steadman ever since. It is not the safest of choices for a local theatre, although it can be hilarious in places, the characterisation is very strong and the reputation of the original production is so strong that any new production has a lot to live up to.
Office politics take a dramatic turn at the Abbey Theatre Studio next week, with their production of Bull, a powerful play about workplace bullying, written by Mike Bartlett. Three colleagues, Thomas, Isobel and Tony, gather together before an important meeting with their manager, Carter. The company is downsizing, and one of the three is about to lose their job. It soon becomes apparent that Isobel and Tony have decided Thomas will be the sacrificial lamb, as they begin a barrage of insults, innuendo and uninvited physical contact, aimed at undermining and overwhelming him.
I must admit that this is not a play that I was familiar with, but some research showed that the lead role was performed by Mark Rylance originally, for which he won many awards and the play many plaudits. The play has a reputation for being, shall we say 'edgy', due to the adult content, including frequent strong language. An interesting and laudable choice for a local theatre group. The play revolves around the character of Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, played by Marlon Gill. A loner, living in a caravan close to a new Housing estate, the residents of which would like to see the back of him. A larger-than-life character, living on the edge of the law.
Holly Road Productions (Ben Hill and St Albans local Alex Bell) are presenting 6 new short plays written in response to theme of "White Lies" which will premiere over two weekends in August. The plays will be directed by Stanley Walton (another St Albans local) and star just 4 actors. The actors Tom Crowhurst, Liam Hynes, Daisy May Parsons and Sarah Cullum will have one day to rehearse each play and will be playing all characters. The entire production will be designed by Wimbledon College of Arts graduate Lauren Woodward and will feature original music composed by Henry Mitton.
St Albans performing arts school, Theatrix, is staging their annual showcase at the Abbey Theatre from 21 – 23 March 2019 and it promises to be a cocktail of excitement. This year’s showcase is called ‘The Plays the Thing’ and it explores “play” and “the play” through the eyes of children and young people. Come and be delighted and entertained by over 100 students, from ages 5 – 19, performing a medley of scripted scenes, adaptations, original writing, dance, movement, singing, sketches and improvisations.
Kenneth Grahame’s enduring tale of Mole, Ratty, Badger, Mr Toad, and their many friends, comes to the Abbey Theatre this Christmas. This stage version of The Wind in the Willows, by Alan Bennett, with additional lyrics and music by Jeremy Sams, caused a popular sensation when it first appeared at The National Theatre in 1990. It has since become a classic in its own right.
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