Famous faces including Ralph Fiennes, Julie Hesmondhalgh, a snail, a whale and Brian Clough all feature in the York Theatre Royal’s first season of 2021.
With a diverse and dynamic programme, the Theatre Royal is throwing off the dark days of lockdown and striding back into the spotlight with a defiantly dazzling array of spectacle, drama, music and comedy.
It will begin by showcasing York’s creativity after it reopens on 17 May.
Chief executive Tom Bird said: “We can’t wait to welcome our audiences back to the theatre in May with The Love Season, an exciting and varied programme of work that celebrates what we’ve all been missing this past year – human connection, the live experience, and a sense of togetherness”.
Performances will be presented with socially-distanced audiences and adhere to the latest Government and industry Covid-19 guidelines, to ensure the safety of staff and audiences.
What’s on when
The Love Season opens with Love Bites (17 & 18 May) celebrating York’s creativity with 20 commissioned love letters. Former Look North presenter Harry Gration will host the evening which has a “Pay What You Feel” ticket policy.
Creative director Juliet Forster said: “For these very special performances which mark the full re-opening of York Theatre Royal after over a year of closure, we are joining forces with the remarkable talent of many of York’s finest artists to put together an evening of live performance.
“Drawing on a range of art forms and disciplines, Love Bites will explore the idea of love letters, dedicated to people, places, things, actions, occupations (and much, much more!) in a multitude of ways, all presented in five-minute specially commissioned bite sized chunks.”
The Love Season continues with The HandleBards recounting the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet (25 & 26 May) – created by three actors cooped up together during lockdown. The result is ‘an unhinged and bonkers, laugh-out-loud version of Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers’.
Following sellout performances in the UK and Australia York’s very own drag superstar Velma Celli brings Love Is Love: A Brief History of Drag (29 May) to the Theatre Royal stage in an electrifying cabaret performance promising heavenly vocals, theatrical swagger and razor sharp wit
Multi award-winning, BAFTA- nominated actress Julie Hesmondhalgh stars in The Greatest Play in the History of the World (1-5 June). It arrives in York after a sellout Edinburgh Festival run and stints in Manchester and London’s West End. The play was written for Julie by her Brentwood Award winning writer husband Ian Kershaw.
In This Time (8-9 June) the award-winning circus theatre company Ockham’s Razor present a unique take on the trapeze act in a show about time, age and the stories we tell ourselves.
Favourite characters from the hit TV show take to the stage in Twirlywoos Live! (11-13 June) in a show for ages 1+. Also for young audiences comes The Snail and the Whale (2 & 3 July), inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved picture book. This Tall Stories show is for ages 4+
Red Ladder Theatre stage The Damned United (16 June), adapted from David Peace’s novel by Anders Lustgarten and telling the story of Brian Clough’s time as manager of Leeds United.
Strindberg’s classic Miss Julie (22-26 June), directed by Dadiow Lin, has been adapted by British-Hong Kong writer Amy Ng into a politically-charged story set in 1940s Hong Kong. “Vital, timely adaptation of Strindberg’s play” was the verdict in a 5-star review from The Stage.
Direct from the West End, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical (30 June) will deliver spontaneous musical comedy.
Oliver Ford-Davies and Stephen Boxer star in Ben Brown’s new political drama A Splinter of Ice (6-10 July), presented by the Original Theatre Company. Olivier Award winning Ford Davies plays the writer Graham Greene who travels into the heart of the Soviet Union to meet his old MI6 boss Kim Philby.
Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in the world premiere of T S Eliot’s Four Quartets (26-31 July). This solo theatre adaptation features Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages and Little Giddings which were published together in 1943.
The quartet ranges across themes of time, nature and the elements, faith and spirituality, war and mortality.
Full details on the York Theatre Royal website