Guns at the ready tonight as hot ticket Loaded starts at Harrogate Theatre

Loaded in Harrogate play - Keith Hukin (Mick) and Lee Bainbridge (Hud) in a scene from the new play. (Picture by  Antony Robling)

Loaded in Harrogate play - Keith Hukin (Mick) and Lee Bainbridge (Hud) in a scene from the new play. (Picture by Antony Robling)

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The starting pistol will be fired tonight, Thursday, March 3 on the hottest ticket for years at Harrogate Theatre - quite literally!

Right now, I am in the lucky position of being the only person who knows exactly what to expect when the curtain goes up on thrilling new drama Loaded in Harrogate - apart from the cast and crew.

Sue Mitchell, who plays Carol in Loaded in Harrogate.

Sue Mitchell, who plays Carol in Loaded in Harrogate.

What the exclusive preview performance I was treated to last week proved was that Miss Marple this isn’t.

As scripted by Harrogate Theatre’s chief executive David Bown and performed by a small group of wonderful actors from Reform Theatre, I am happy to report Loaded is a rip-snorter of a production.

An exciting reworking of David Bown’s 1999 award-winning dark comedy Loaded which won rave reviews on its London run, the new version is set in Harrogate and is packed with local settings, music. and references

But it’s not a Harrogate any of us is used to seeing on stage.

Rather than tearooms and gardens, this gripping production with a four-person cast of Lee Bainbridge, Keith Hukin, Andy Murton and Sue Mitchell features violence, swearing and a little bit of sex.

Not to forget a great deal of wit and clever dialogue.

A tale of three frustrated Bradford mechanics who decide to rob a jewellery shop in Harrogate, such is its novelty and power, this new show has already attracted attention from BBC TV’s Look North.

Loaded’s portrayal of the robbery itself is particularly exciting, if not alarming in a raw but funny, physically dynamic way.

For that key scene, the production team are using one decommissioned shotgun and two replica handguns, checked in advance with the police.

It’s a scary moment but one that holds no terrors for cast member Lee Bainbridge.

Before this 27-year-old became a professional actor, he was in the Royal Marines.

In a sign that things are livening up at the increasingly successful Harrogate Theatre, this Saturday night’s show will be followed by a late night aftershow party, with the public being invited to join the cast and crew as local rock bands play music until late.

Loaded in Harrogate runs at Harrogate Theatre until March 12 in the main auditorium.