Things I Know to be True, by the critically acclaimed playwright Andrew Bovell in conjunction with Frantic Assembly theatre company, is the touching, funny and visceral next production by the Company of Ten. It is a complex and intense portrait of the mechanics of a family, and a marriage, through the eyes of four siblings struggling to define themselves beyond their parents’ love and expectations.
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.
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.
This was the first time I had seen a performance in the studio part of the Abbey Theatre. I must say I liked the intimacy this created. Allowing the audience to feel a part of the production, almost. The play is quite short, in two acts of 45-50 minutes or so and this felt right. All the dialogue and action had meaning and impact.
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.
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.
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.
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
Touring theatre company Peppermint Muse has made a bold choice with its next production, Death and Dancing, which is coming to St Albans in the first week of February. Written by Claire Dowie, who based the play on some of her original stand-up comedy material, Death and Dancing is set against the backdrop of eighties sexual politics. It is a fast and furious comedy that attacks conventional notions of gender and labelling.
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