So The Government Inspector finally arrived in Gogol’s story, although we never got to meet him (you had to see the play!)

Nick Le Mesurier’s lovely adaptation of this classic play was a hit with our audiences and multiple critics alike and became the most watched play of the year.  The exit poll from the front of house team was super positive.

Enormous thanks to Matthew Salisbury for not only his directorial debut with us, but taking on the lead role too.  We welcomed a number of new members of cast and Tracy Cross, a new member of our Stage Management team, who made an outstanding contribution.  Tracy is another professionally trained theatre creative to join our team. 

Next up is the long awaited Lovesong by Abi Morgan.  She was a reluctant early writer in sharing her work, but as soon as she did it had great impact.  In 2002 she was awarded Most Promising Playwright at the Oliviers.  A BAFTA came for her film script for Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep and she wrote film scripts for Brick Lane, Shame and Suffragette, plus an award winning television script for the BBC drama series The Hour. She has a current drama series on Netflix called Eric, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Craig Shelton, who is directing Lovesong began talking with me about us staging this and we scheduled it before covid stalled us and all theatres. When we re-opened, we headed straight into our centenary year, where we celebrated playwrights significant to us over our 100 year history, With that celebration over, we rescheduled Lovesong and it is now so close to opening.

Immaculate writing demands immaculate attention to every dimension of this play.  Craig has pulled together a great company of actors and creatives and is staging this in the spirit of the production by Frantic Assembly and its original concept for the play.  Our movement director, Dan Walsh, has been a key part of the production and the set design has had to imaginatively reflect the needs of the piece, which you will see when you come.  I urge you to see this special play.  It will touch you profoundly as it covers early marriage and partnerships to end of life challenges.  Our lives and our losses should be on stage; a play about great love and the high price of loss, but for those who have never loved this way, theirs is the greater loss.  Don’t miss it.

In other news, we have announced the first three plays for 2025 – Euripides’ Medea in a new version by Ben Power, first staged at the National Theatre with the late Helen McCrory in the title role.  Constellations by Nick Payne, first performed at the Royal Court and then on to Broadway and many more productions in the West End.  A very special play for two exceptional actors.  We are then to follow this with our postponed musical Spring Awakening. Spring Awakening has just been treated to a concert from the original cast in London. Winner of 8 Tony awards and an Olivier award for Best Musical, set to one of the most electrifying and admired scores of the 21st century. 

Ever since taking over the AD role at this wonderful theatre, I have felt my mantra has been “the play’s the thing”.   Starting with the best possible writing that directors feel passionate about staging should attract actors and creative teams who want to be in the rehearsal room with them. If we load the dice in this way, I hope that our audience will feel they have a local option of great theatre, without the need to travel too far and be tempted to come.  I hope you will feel tempted to come, because you are at the very heart of our survival.  Every ticket sale makes another day of theatre-making possible.  We are shaping a programme for 2025, which I hope you will find exciting and as you know we shall always endeavour to reach for a professional standard in every dimension of our work.  

Enormous thanks to all of you who support us by coming to see the shows.  You are amazing and you put a spring in our step.  As a volunteer led organisation we need to encourage our brilliant teams to keep coming back to support us too, on stage, back stage and front of house, to help us run this brilliant theatre company both now and into the future. 

Hurrah for you all!

Sue Moore, Artistic Director