Northcott unveils mixed bag for autumn season

PUBLISHED: 10:55 12 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:59 17 June 2010

Regular supporters of the Northcott have noticed a change in the style of the theatre s programming since it re-opened after extensive renovation and the successful battle to retain its Arts Council grant.

Regular supporters of the Northcott have noticed a change in the style of the theatre's programming since it re-opened after extensive renovation and the successful battle to retain its Arts Council grant. Could this subtle change in direction be a response to that body's demand for change in return for its continuing financial support? Fewer traditional productions, mounted by the theatre itself, with fairly lengthy runs, now seem to have been replaced by shorter events with visiting companies, many of which tend to be of the experimental type and which break away from the more familiar fare for which the Northcott has been known.

This change has brought a mixed response from theatre-goers, some of whom welcome the innovation, while others have been very critical.

The programme for the autumn season brings a mixed bag mainly of short runs or one-nighters, including drama, contemporary dance, opera, music, comedy, amateur performances and the much loved pantomime. The traditionalists will welcome the joint Northcott and English Touring Theatre's production of the adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd, which runs from September 11 to 27 and stars Stephen Billington, better known to many as Greg Kelly in Coronation Street.

October brings a number of short runs from visiting companies, starting with Lola, a presentation by the innovative Trestle touring company of the life of the femme fatale and fake Spanish dancer Lola Montez. With live music, the show has a fiery blend of text and flamenco dance. Happy and Married comes for one night on October 10. By Madani Younis, who 'is creating theatre that is bold, relevant and traverses cultural boundaries', this is an exploration of marriage in the 21st century.

In a co-production between Shakespeare's Globe and Lifeblood Theatre Company, a four night run of Glyn Maxwell's Liberty brings the horrors of the French Revolution to the stage between October 14 and 18. English Touring Opera makes one of its welcome visits between October 21 and 25 with performances of the famous Peter Brook version of Bizet's Carmen and Dvorak's Rusalka, and dance takes over with the Richard Alston Company on November 4 and 5, and the Jasmin Vardimon Company on November 7 and 8.

More traditional fare returns from 11 to 15 November, with an adaptation for the stage of William Golding's famous novel Lord of the Flies and the Northcott Community Company presents a psychological piece, Sarah Kane's Crave on November 21 and 22.

It is good to see the return of the classical music recitals, with cellist Guy Johnston on September 4, and the Heath String Quartet on January 12.

There are a number of other one-nighters from lectures to jazz and children's shows, details of which can be found in the new brochure, now available from the box office, Tel (01392) 493493.

The season ends with the popular pantomime The Sleeping Beauty, which runs from December 10 until January 17.

John Dalton


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