A new season at the arts theatre brings a variety of top quality performances from dance, to serious drama
Showcasing world-class drama, dance and music, Cambridge Arts Theatre’s new spring programme offers something to satisfy theatregoers of all ages and tastes. Beginning the month is wartime thriller Pressure (1 to 10 February), which tells the remarkable real-life tale of two warring Allied meteorologists tasked with predicting the weather conditions for the D-Day landings.
This House turns the clock back to 1974, serving up an engrossing insight into the machinations of the fraught halls of Westminster at the time. The Labour party is in-fighting, the government is hanging on by a thread and the country is deeply divided (sound familiar?) in James Graham’s critically-acclaimed play which runs at the Arts Theatre 13 to 17 March.
Also taking us behind the scenes in crises-gripped corridors of power is Mary Stuart, which sees Juliet Stevenson (Truly Madly Deeply, Private Lives) and Lia Williams (The Homecoming, The Crown) in the roles of Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart. The actresses flip a coin each night to decide who plays which queen in each performance – but who’ll get heads and who’ll lose their head? Find out when this gripping historical masterpiece hits Cambridge 23 to 28 April.
A little light relief is on offer courtesy of the ever-excellent Footlights: Cambridge Uni’s world-famous student troupe. Counting alumni including John Cleese, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, the group have been tickling funny bones with their trademark blend of sketches, skits and songs since way back in 1883. Catch them doing their thing on 4 or 11 March. For more hilarity, be sure to snap up tickets to The Importance of Being Earnest, the deliciously witty Oscar Wilde comedy getting a rework from The Original Theatre Company 9 to 14 April. Join Algernon, Jack, Gwendolen and Cecily for a wildly funny romantic romp in which town and country clash, identities are mistaken and alter egos exposed.
Another classic makes an appearance in the shape of Strangers on a Train: the thrilling Patricia Highsmith novel made famous by Hitchcock’s iconic 1951 film. A fateful encounter between two men aboard a train sets in motion a chain of events which will change both of their lives forever in this edge-of-your-seat production which stars Chris Harper (Coronation Street’s Nathan Curtis) and John Middleton (26 February to 3 March).
Also promising to send a shiver down the spine is modern classic The Weir, a play which comes to Cambridge as part of a UK tour to mark its twentieth anniversary. The whisky is flowing as locals at a pub exchange stories around a crackling fire one stormy night, but the arrival of a stranger with a dark tale to tell prompts a sudden, chilling change in atmosphere.
A co-production between English Touring Theatre (French Without Tears, The Herbal Bed) and Mercury Theatre Colchester, this unsettling slice of theatre is at the Arts 6 to 10 March.
There’s music too, with Il Tabarro and Gianni Schicchi, a double bill of one-act Puccini operas on 18 and 19 April. One is a moody romance with a grisly murder, the other a sparkling comedy about a family inheritance in Florence, but both demonstrate Puccini as a master of his art. Also bringing opera, of sorts, to the venue in April is Quartet, the charming story of four ageing opera singers residing in a rather magnificent retirement home in Kent. The arrival of Jean, a new resident, causes chaos as old rivalries resurface – but in true theatrical fashion the show must go on. Join Paul Nicholas (EastEnders), Wendi Peters (Coronation Street), Sue Holderness (Only Fools and Horses) and Jeff Rawle (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), for this bittersweet comedy from 3 to 7 April.
There’s also fun for the family from 20 March, when a colourful new stage adaptation of The Jungle Book arrives at the theatre for a five-day run. See Rudyard Kipling’s classic coming-of-age tale brought to life by the team behind acclaimed recent productions of Goodnight Mister Tom and Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild, adapted by the Olivier Award-winning Jessica Swale (Nell Gwynn), and with a live musical soundtrack.