Excellent drama lined up for spring

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I’ll cut straight to the chase and begin by mentioning some of the excellent drama that we have coming this spring to the Studio Theatre, writes David Brown of Harrogate Theatre.

Do check it out as there is a huge choice of new, exciting and challenging plays on offer.

Starting this week with three very interesting pieces in our Nothing to See Here Festival that examine health and happiness. Friday’s offering, Getting Better Slowly, is also highly recommended in The Guardian. Look out for the excellent Box of Tricks Theatre Company next month with Novik, which is also getting fabulous reviews and Futures Theatre pay a visit in March with Offside, which is a piece about women in football. Spring Reign by Rob Johnston visits in May and is a powerful story of the Syrian conflict from real life accounts. We have a new adaptation of The Invisible Man from Thunder Road and Harrogate Dramatic Society present Entertaining Angels, which received excellent reviews when it premiered in 2006.

In the main house at the end of the month there is a fascinating portrayal of the actor Richard Burton performed by the critically acclaimed Rhodri Miles and in March the excellent Jack Shepherd and Clive Mantle star in the thrilling courtroom drama The Verdict. March also provides an opportunity for all you lapsed musicians to get involved in a fantastic play called Putting the Band Back Together – make sure you visit our website for details. I must mention our own new version of Hans Christian Andersen’s much loved The Emperor’s New Clothes in April, which has a wonderful cast and is directed by the man behind panto, our very own Phil Lowe.

Speaking of The Emperor’s New Clothes, I went to see Ivo Van Hove’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s classic Hedda Gabler at the weekend, with the extraordinary Ruth Wilson in the title role.

Having worked in theatre for most of my life, I am happy to face any challenge that a production decides to throw at me with a positive attitude. I judge what I’m watching by the intention behind it. I thoroughly enjoy theatre that is different, subversive, immersive, avant-garde or even ‘a bit full of itself’. Every summer I go searching for these kind of experiences at the Edinburgh fringe. However, I have to say that Van Hove’s production of Ibsen’s ground-breaking drama at the National Theatre, really did seem to miss the mark, and I wasn’t alone in my observation. There was a strange collective resistance from most of the audience on the night. It’s as if they had come to challenge the critics’ response.

I was so disappointed. I had really been looking forward to this production. On my return I re-read all the glowing reviews and their universal praise made me even more frustrated. Thankfully there is a live showing of the production at The Everyman in Harrogate next month. I am determined not to let the experience go, I hope my first encounter was simply a glitch in my own sensibilities and the atmosphere on the night.

Live showings and ‘streaming’ are of course very popular now, and theatres are encouraged to think of their websites and social media platforms as alternative spaces to programme work. With that in mind, Harrogate Theatre successfully streamed Complicite’s Beware of Pity that was staged at the Barbican Centre last weekend. Look out for more virtual events in the future and it’s still possible to catch this show, as it remains accessible on our website for another two weeks if you are after something different.