New season at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph includes world premiere of new play by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage

World premieres, a classic comedy and a revival of a Sir Alan Ayckbourn favourite have been revealed as being at the heart of the new season at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.

Thursday, 12th March 2020, 1:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th March 2020, 2:35 pm
Artistic director Paul Robinson

“In divisive times we are here to bring you together. The team has worked hard to make it feel like there is something for everybody in this new season,” said its artistic director Paul Robinson.

“From bold new premieres to classic farces, experimental new work to working deeply engaged with our communities, everything from moving drama to hilarious comedy, dance, music, opera film and so much more,” he said.

Robinson revealed the venue would be working with Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and Told By an Idiot theatre company on a world first – Delirium – which will open in the autumn.

Armitage is writing the work based on Alfred Hitchcock’s film noir Vertigo which starred James Stewart as a troubled detective and Kim Novak as the beautiful quarry who beguiles him.

The season proper will open with TWO – a bittersweet comedy by Jim Cartwright – in collaboration with Hull Truck Theatre.

Starring Nicola Stephenson and Matthew Wilson, Robinson described TWO as a hilarious, heartbreaking northern classic.

“Audiences, drinks in hand, will enter a transformed space which looks more like a pub then a theatre,” said Robinson, who chose Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice to launch his first season as artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre three years ago.

“The evening will be hosted by the landlord and landlady who will give us a glimpse into the intimate lives of some of their regulars while they desperately try to keep their own relationship from falling apart,” he said.

“It is raucous and reflective in equal measure.”

The summer season as a different look – it will open with a revival of Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s Just Between Ourselves. Usually, the revival is second on the summer bill.

It will be the first time the Scarborough-based writer and directed will have directed the piece since its premiere at the library – the then Stephen Joseph base – in 1976.

“Dennis perpetually tinkers in his garage while his wife and mother nearly come to blows while they fight for control of the domestic plain,” said Robinson.

“It is a rich play, full of razor-sharp observation and in particular exposes our ability to destroy those we supposedly love.” he said.

It is, for those who know Ayckbourn’s work inside out, ‘the one with the car’.

Robinson will then helm The Ladykillers – the stage adaptation of the Ealing Studios comedy which starred Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom and Peter Sellers.

Adapted for the stage by Father Ted writer Graham Linehan, it premiered at Liverpool Playhouse in 2011 before transferring to the West End followed by a tour.

“The plot is the same as the film – a criminal gang occupies the upstairs room of the rickety home of Mrs Wilberforce, a house she shares with her parrot General Gordon,” said Robinson.

“The gang poses as a string quartet to cover a plan for a Kings Cross heist. What could possibly go wrong? Well everything and to hilarious affect,” he said.

Robinson has assembled the same team – Simon Slater, Jason Taylor, Helen Coyston and Erin Carter – which staged The 39 Steps two years ago.

“Helen is working out how to fit a wonky two-storey house with secret hiding places into the round,” said Robinson.

Ayckbourn’s 84th play Truth Will Out will premiere in August.

“It is an up-to-the-minute satire on family relationships and the state of the nation,” he said.

“Dangers of the internet and true value of privacy are revealed as family members set upon each other and old secrets surface.

“It is a truly relevant, morality tale and sees Alan combine his love of foretelling the future with his empathy for the little people,” said Robinson.

The Christmas show is Snow Queen and is in the writing hands of Nick Lane who has penned the last few Stephen Joseph seasonal offerings including A (Scarborough) Christmas Carol, Alice in Wonderland and Treasure Island.

“It is a cracker and will feature actors playing live music and plenty of laughs,” said Robinson.