A new season at the arts theatre brings a variety of top quality performances across the genres
Begin with the Bard, joining Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour for one of three performances between 29 August and 1 September. The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew all get an airing, performed by a company of just eight actors juggling a variety of roles.
The Bard himself becomes the subject in Shakespeare in Love, which runs at the venue from 5-10 November. A bad case of writer’s block is banished by the arrival of the beguiling Viola de Lesseps in this sumptuous Elizabethan love story, based on the Oscar-winning film of the same name.
Also transporting us to Tudor times are the Horrible Histories team, who dig up the grisliest bits of the past for your viewing pleasure from 23-28 October. The same week, handily the half-term holidays, they’ll also be romping into the land of Pharaohs, mummies and pyramids with their Awful Egyptians show. More history with Lucy Worsley, who’ll be shining a light on Queen Victoria on 23 September, challenging the received wisdom on this eccentric ruler.
From 25-29 September, immerse yourself in JB Priestley’s classic thriller An Inspector Calls, a play which has been seen by more than four million people worldwide since its maiden outing in the 1940s.
Interrupting a dinner party at the Birling family’s house, Inspector Goole has questions about the death of a young woman, prompting the guests to examine their own consciences – but all is not as it seems.
There’s another death, and another inspector, in The Case of the Frightened Lady, from 4-8 September, while from the 10th to the 15th, Florian Zeller’s The Height of the Storm brings tempestuous family drama to the theatre. Starring Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones), and Dame Eileen Atkins (Cranford, Gosford Park), this compelling production explores love, family and the fragility of life.
Gavin & Stacey’s Mathew Horne stars in Rain Man alongside Ed Speelers (Downton Abbey), at the venue from 8-13 October. An adaptation of the Tom Cruise/Dustin Hoffman classic film, this new stage show follows self-centred salesman Charlie Babbitt and his brother – autistic savant Raymond – on a trip across America.
Also bringing heartstring-tugging drama to the theatre is Still Alice, the story of clever, driven Alice Howland: a professional at the top of her game who’s diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, aged 50. Starring Sharon Small in the lead role, the play runs 16-10 October.
A little light relief is on offer courtesy of Vulcan 7, a new comedy written by and starring Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer of The Young Ones fame. Now somewhat less young, they’re reunited to play a pair of ageing actors working on the set of a fantasy film in an Icelandic wasteland. Volcanos, quarrels, catering truck woes and much sending-up of the acting profession ensues between 1 and 6 October.
For more hilarity, snap up tickets to The Full Monty, the heart-warming story of six out-of-work steel workers baring all for a better future. One of Britain’s most successful stage shows, it’s got feel-good tunes aplenty and runs 17-22 September.
There’s music, too, with award-winning jazz vocalist Clare Teal and her band, who’ll be treating audiences to classic tunes by the likes of Cole Porter and Dave Brubeck on 21 October. Then, from 12-17 November, see TV star Ruth Jones in The Nightingales, a play about a cappella group turned upside down by a new arrival to the village.
Rounding off the year as always is the Arts Theatre panto, which runs 29 November to 6 January. Always a glittering affair, this year the cast will be taking on Aladdin, so expect genies, magic carpets, songs and plenty of gags.