Three Theatrical Experiences For This April


1. King Lear
Picture 01
[King Lear © Nobby Clark]


Shakespeare’s great tragedy of old age, magisterial director Jonathan Miller and Yorkshire national treasure Northern Broadsides are three things that should need no preview. However, their very familiarity makes it a risk that they might slip by – and that’s a risk that’s not worth taking.

Jonathan Miller has described King Lear as “The most interesting play Shakespeare ever wrote”, and this ‘Lear’ will be a stripped back, intimate version, the first that Miller has directed since 2004.

Playing Lear will be Northern Broadsides Artistic Director Barrie Rutter, who takes the role for the second time, following a 1999 production, also for Northern Broadsides. Alongside him will be a cast that includes company and TV stalwart Fine Time Fontayne as the Fool.

Since opening in February at Northern Broadsides’ base in Dean Clough, Halifax, the play has been touring to rapturous reviews, including five stars, and a description of ‘Revelatory’ in The Guardian

West Yorkshire Playhouse, 8-18 April
For more info and tickets visit the WYP website


2. The 56
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[The 56 © Joe Priestly]


In Bradford, ‘the 56’ is far more than just a number. As anyone with even a passing interest in football or the city’s recent history would be instantly aware, it’s the number of people who died in the Bradford City fire of 1985.

As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of that tragedy, FYSA Theatre are touring their play, based on verbatim transcripts of testimony from those involved in or affected by the fire, with a mission to preserve their memories and introduce a younger generation to a cornerstone of northern history. Nothing about the testimonies will be fictionalised, and the role of the actors is to act as a mouthpiece for these people and honestly represent their experiences. Testimony includes that of sporting figures such as Terry Yorath, Trevor Cherry and John Helm as well as from survivors, emergency services and broadcasters.

Having debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, where The 56 was described as ‘an impressive piece, the Sheffield-based company has been touring the show. Proceeds will be donated to Plastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit at the University of Bradford.

Alhambra Studio, Bradford, 23-25 April
For more info and tickets visit the website


3. Swanhunter
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[Swanhunter © Richard Davenport]

Swanhunter was commissioned for Opera North in 2009, and now a brand new production, in collaboration with acclaimed theatre company The Wrong Crowd, returns to the Howard Assembly Room.

Music is by contemporary classical composer, Jonathan Dove, who established his reputation with the airport-based opera, Flight in 1998. Dove’s music is again matched with a libretto from Alasdair Middleton, who also provided the words for The Adventures of Pinocchio – another Opera North commission.

The story, which is suitable for ages 7 and upwards features a fusion of opera, puppetry and live action and is set in the beautiful and mysterious world of the Kalevala – the repository of Finnish myth and legend. The hero, Lemminkäinen, is determined to travel to the icy north in search of a bride, against his mother’s wishes. There, impossible tasks await him: he must face the Devil’s Elk, the Swan on Death’s River – and in the shadows, an unseen danger lurks.

Howard Assembly Room, Leeds Grand Theatre, 16-18 April. Also at Harrogate Theatre, 3 May.
For more info and tickets visit the Opera North website

Mike Farren

Filed under: Theatre & Dance

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