York Theatre Royal’s Autumn/Winter Season

Missing 1 - Robert Golden

Missing 1, by Robert Golden


Two plays by Alan Bennett, Northern Broadsides in a political satire set in Brexit Britain, and Phoenix Dance Theatre’s new work marking the 70th anniversary of Caribbean migrants arriving in the UK feature in York Theatre Royal’s autumn/winter line-up.

Award-winning actor Matthew Kelly returns as does international hit An Inspector Calls which began life at the Theatre Royal nearly 30 years ago. Jeeves & Wooster, Morecambe & Wise and music hall star Marie Lloyd are among the characters audiences will encounter during the season.

Matthew Kelly and David Yelland star in Alan Bennett’sThe Habit of Art (30 Aug – 8 Sept), the first revival since the play was first seen at London’s National Theatre. It focuses on a meeting between the poet W H Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten. Philip Franks directs this York Theatre Royal and Original Theatre Company co-production.

Stephen Daldry’s multi award-winning production of the J B Priestley classic An Inspector Calls (14 – 22 Sept), has been hailed as ‘the theatrical event of its generation’ and has won more awards than any other play in history. This fresh take on the classic play was first directed by Daldry at York Theatre Royal several years before he directed the play at London’s National Theatre. A new tour opens in York before touring the UK and the US.

An Inspector Calls. Photo by Mark Douet _80A4655

An Inspector Calls, by Mark Douet


After co-producing When We Are Married, York Theatre Royal and Northern Broadsides join forces for They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! (5 – 13 Oct). Deborah McAndrew’s new adaptation transposes Dario Fo’s political satire of civil disobedience Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! to Brexit Britain. Conrad Nelson, Broadsides new artistic director and joint CEO, directs. “Our new adaptation gives us the opportunity to bring a fresh and vibrant voice to the work while remaining faithful to the play and the original intentions of the author,” he says.

York Theatre Royal and tutti frutti present Snow Queen (27 Sept – 13 Oct). Ivan Stott returns to tutti frutti to create memorable music and songs in an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story by Mike Kenny and directed by Wendy Harris.

Gecko presents Missing (17 – 20 Oct), with Amit Lahav’s production inviting the audience to experience a series of extraordinary images, jaw-dropping choreography and a tantalizing multilingual vocal landscape.

York Opera stages one of the world’s most famous operas Carmen (23 – 27 Oct), sung in English and supported by a full orchestra.

Sharon Watson’s new dance work for Phoenix Dance Theatre Windrush: Movement of the People (1 – 2 Nov) celebrates the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the SS Windrush bringing the first large numbers of Caribbean migrants to the UK. Maybe Yes, Maybe No and a revival of Shadows by Christopher Bruce complete the programme.

The Lakes Season brings to York five productions from Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. York Theatre Royal Associate Director Juliet Forster directs Sense & Sensibility (6 – 10 Nov) adapted from Jane Austen’s novel by Jessica Swale, who is also responsible for adapting the Theatre Royal’s summer show The Secret Garden. Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense (16-17 Nov) by the Goodale Brothers is taken from the works of P. G. Wodehouse with three actors playing a multitude of characters. The final Main House Lakes production is Alan Bennett’s Olivier Award-winning comedy Single Spies (13-14 Nov) which explores the world of spies Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt with a little help from the Queen.

Matthew Kelly stars in The Habit of Art

Matthew Kelly


Two more shows in The Lakes Season feature in the StudioRails (16-17 Nov), Simon Longman’s funny, poignant and emotionally arresting new play that was shortlisted for the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, and Bold Girls (13-14 Nov), set in 1991 West Belfast where the revelations of a mysterious young woman upsets the lives of three friends.

London Classic Theatre present Charlotte Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should (20 – 24 Nov), the most commonly performed work by a female playwright worldwide. The play earned Keatley the George Devine Award, as well as the Manchester Evening News Award for Best New Play. She examines the lives of four women through the immense social changes of the 20th century, focussing on four generations of one family as they confront the most significant moments of their lives.

Ballet Black Double Bill (27 Nov) features The Suit, choreographed and directed by Cathy Marston and inspired by Can Themba’s South African fable The Suit. The bill also features A Dream Within A Midsummer Nights Dream, choreographed and directed by Arthur Pita which mixes the classical and contemporary to distil the essence of Shakespeare’s comedy. The eclectic soundtrack includes Eartha Kitt, Barbra Streisand and Yma Sumac.

Elizabeth Mansfield, seen as Edith Piaf in the most recent Theatre Royal season, returns as ‘the greatest music hall artist of all time’ in Marie: The Story of Marie Lloyd (28 Nov). Proceeds from the fundraising performance will contribute to the theatre’s on-going work with people in the community.

Morecambe and Wise’s Christmas TV shows are the stuff of legend and An Evening of Eric & Ernie at Christmas (1 Dec) promises a brilliant homage filled with their famous comedy sketches to evoke memories of the comic pair’s Christmas specials.

The Theatre Royal’s first Studio Christmas show for younger audiences Book of Dragons last year is followed by The Elves and the Shoemakers (11 Dec – 5 Jan), a version of the Grimm fairy tale by Mike Kenny and directed by Juliet Forster. And of course Christmas and the New Year at York Theatre Royal wouldn’t be Christmas without pantomime and Berwick Kaler who celebrates 40 years as York’s Dame with The Grand Old Dame of York (13 Dec – 2 Feb).

The programme in the Studio features a wide range of visiting companies including New Nigerians (17-20 Oct), Oladipo Agbouuaje’s sparkling satire that has enjoyed a sold out run at London’s Arcola Theatre. The Studio season also presents Studio Discoveries (20 – 24 Nov) a week of exciting, new theatre curated by Visionari, the group of disparate theatre-lovers from all over York, with the brief to reflect and engage the diverse community. Expect a showcase of new, nationally touring shows with something for everyone.

Looking forward to 2019, Emma Rice’s new company Wise Children brings Angela Carter’s novel Wise Children (5 – 16 March) to York from London’s Old Vic. This big, bawdy tangle of theatrical joy and heartbreak is a celebration of showbusiness, family, forgiveness and hope. Expect showgirls and Shakespeare, sex and scandal, music, mischief and mistaken identity – and butterflies by the thousand.
Before that the penguins are coming to York in Madagascar: A Musical Adventure (26 Feb to 2 March), featuring all the favourites from the Dreamworks animated movie including Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria.

All in all, it’s looking like another great year for the York Theatre Royal!

My Mother Said - Main (Please credit Sheila Burnett) (1)

My Mother Said, photo by Sheila Burnett