Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse: The New Season
Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse
Johanna Roberts | Thursday, July 2, 2015
While many of us are winding down and looking forward to a summer of sunshine, lazy evenings, and barbeques, the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse are rolling up their sleeves in readiness for the autumn and winter season.
Those of us lucky enough to live in or near Liverpool are aware of our good fortune on the theatrical front, and this is exemplified by the combination of the Playhouse, a mixture of Victorian music hall and modern architecture, and the Everyman, winner of last year’s RIBA Stirling award for its innovative design and creative reuse of the original materials.
Those of us lucky enough to live in or near Liverpool are aware of our good fortune on the theatrical front
This blend of old and new, of the traditional reworked and of innovation based in tradition, is reflected in the new season, which also underlines the theatres’ commitment to new works and to forging partnerships with other companies.
However, before the next season starts, the summer kicks off with the summer production by Young Everyman Playhouse, The Stage Theatre School of the Year (Princes Park 24th to 26th July). After their fabulous take on The Bacchae, Robin Hood gets the YEP treatment in an open-air production that shows how talented these young people truly are. Grab a picnic (and an umbrella) and enjoy.
September sees the premier of Narvik at the Liverpool Playhouse Studio (8th Sept to 19th Sept), a new play by the remarkable Lizzie Nunnery. Lizzie has written extensively for both the radio and for the stage, (The Swallowing Dark and Intemperance both being successful productions at the Everyman). In Narvik, workshopped at the Everyman and supported by the e&P Talent Fund, she draws on her talents as singer/songwriter and joins with Box of Tricks to tell the story of her grandfather’s memories of finding and losing love in Norway and of his experiences in a submarine in World War 2.
Also premiering at the Everyman is The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead (25th Sept to 17th Oct). Simon Armitage and e&P associate director, Nick Bagnall, follow their collaboration on The Last Days of Troy with what Armitage calls ‘an ancient tale with a modern twist’. Indeed, Gemma Bodinetz, Everyman and Playhouse artistic director, commented on the play’s relevance to current events: ‘Right now the Mediterranean is a really dangerous place, and hundreds of people are being washed up on its shores’. Everyman Youth alumnus, Colin Tierney, returns to play Odysseus, whose flight from the authorities sees him ripped from modern Europe and thrust into the world of Ancient Greece, as he struggles to survive and make his way back home. The production then tours with English Touring Theatre.
Continuing to demonstrate how stories from the past have resonance for today’s audiences, e&P teams up with West Yorkshire Playhouse and Headlong to present Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie (Playhouse 7th to 31st October then touring). The story’s heart rending qualities chime with the current realisation of the fragility of mental health with a production that calls on the audience to reflect on how they think about themselves.
On a more light-hearted note, British Comedy Award winner Nina Conti will be at the Playhouse with a new show (26th Sept).
The theme of being different is the focus of Outsiders (Liverpool Playhouse Studio from 13th to 17th Oct), a reworking of Camus’ classic philosophical novel L’Etranger by Pilot Theatre, in association with Australian Theatre for Young People, who use the stories of two women, to show how the ideas of the novel are relevant to modern audiences.
Returning to the world of Ancient Greece, Little Bulb Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre present Orpheus (Liverpool Everyman 20th to 24th Oct). This time, Greek myth is given the cabaret treatment. Expect jazz, opera and French chanson in a production of verve and wit.
For a truly memorable Hallowe’en experience, forget plastic pumpkins and jelly fangs and treat yourself to Out of Joint’s Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern, (Everyman: 27th to 31st Oct). Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s beautifully written play about the witch trial in a Hertfordshire village offers a spell-binding evening.
For a more family–based evening out, Liverpool Playhouse(3rd to 7th Nov) is hosting Jaqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather, a stage adaptation by Emma Reeves and directed by Sally Cookson, whose We’re Going on a Bear Hunt proved so popular with younger audiences (and their parents!)
Cinematic anarchy reigns when Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo offer their unique and passionate take on the anatomy of film with The Movie Doctors (Everyman 7th November). Audiences are invited to make their own personal contribution via Twitter or Facebook in advance of the show.
Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path is at the Playhouse from 10th to 14th Nov, from the producers behind the beautiful Birdsong. This time, it is World War 2, specifically, the RAF, that provides the setting, with a look at friendship, fear, passion and infidelity.
And for those who missed it first time round, there’s a second chance to catch the outstanding Dead Dog in a Suitcase - a joint production by Kneehigh and e&P (10th to 14th Nov). This iconoclastic production is full of heart and wit, with a cast simply overflowing with talent and creativity.
On a more traditional note, Northern Broadsides present The Winter’s Tale (Playhouse 17th to 21st Nov). One of Shakespeare’s more problematic plays, the themes of jealousy, reconciliation and forgiveness are played out against intense psychological drama, balanced by the comedy and resolution of the final two acts, all served up with songs and shepherds.
And so to a tradition that is anything but traditional. If you’ve not yet experienced the Everyman Rock and Roll Pantomime, you can’t even begin to imagine what you’re missing: mayhem, music, magic, and marvels. Ok, so the title is Rapunzel: Hairway to Heaven, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it will have much to do with Rapunzel and you can forget anything you think you might know about pantomimes! The title merely provides the writers and cast with a launching pad for a stratospheric production of scintillating talent and, most of all, fun.
If pantomime is not quite your thing, don’t worry. How about a Hammer Horror? With The Haunting of Hill House, written by Anthony Neilson and based on Shirley Jackson’s novel, e&P, in association with Hammer and Sonia Freedman Productions, offer a chilling tale of three strangers who accept the invitation to spend the evening with Dr Montague at the house on the hill (Playhouse 2nd to 6th Feb).
The Playhouse hosts another adaptation of a novel when Regent’s Park theatre London present their much-admired production of Golding’s Lord of the Flies (2nd to 4th Feb), which promises to be a feast for both the eyes and the mind.
Off the stage, and as a reminder of how these two theatres are at the heart of the community, there will be a repeat of the Fun Palaces initiated last year to celebrate the centenary of Joan Littlewood’s birth. I’d also recommend checking out the website for relaxed or BSL performances; the twilight performances with Afterwords, Page to Stage, Backchat, and the Long Table Debate – all of which have the aim of making theatre more accessible, more relevant, more part of people’s lives.
‘Two great theatres, one creative heart’: it does exactly what it says on the tin.
For tickets and more information regarding the new season at the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse theatres, head to www.everymanplayhouse.com
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