From 25 September to 6 October the mood darkens with a new in-house production, which then tours nationally, of Ronald Harwood’s The Handyman. [Timothy West leads the cast led by Carolyn Backhouse, Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukas with video appareances by Vanessa Redgrave and Steven Berkoff. This tale of a man from the Ukraine whose past catches up with him in Sussex is directed by Joe Harmston.
The post-West End tour of Driving Miss Daisy – you may have seen the much-lauded film – coasts in from 10 to 13 October. Gwen Taylor is Daisy Wertham and Don Warrington plays her chauffeur Hoke Colburn; Ian Porter is Boolie Wertham, Colburn’s actual employer and Mrs Wertham’s son. It’s had casting problems which led to the cancellation of the first part of the tour, but the classic John Chapman farce Dry Rot with Liza Goddard, Susan Penhaligon and Neil Stacy, abetted by Gareth Hale and Norman Pace canters along between 15 and 20 October.
English Touring Theatre offers its new production of Somerset Maugham’s The Sacred Flame from 23 to 27 October. Matthew Dunster is the director for this play which is partly a thriller (how did war hero Maurice Tabret die?) and partly a mature love-story. That’s followed, between 28 October and 3 November by Keith Waterhouse’s adaptation of his novel Good Grief starring Penelope Keith. It’s a story about a widow, not perhaps a merry one – but a lady who certainly is resilient.
Tom Kempinski’s Duet for One was written in the aftermath of the cellist Jacqueline du Pré’s tragic physical decline as the onset of multiple sclerosis wrecked her brilliant career. Haydn Gwynne and Wiliam Gaunt star in Robin Harford’s new production from 5 to 10 November. Then the all-male ensemble Propeller burst onto the stage, this time with Twel;fth Night, between 13 and 17 November.
We are still in Dickens’ bicentenary year, and Hugh Janes’ adaptation from his ghost stories creeps into the theatre in the shape of The Haunting. That’s from 19 to 24 November in a production starring David Robb and James Roache. And then we are in the lead-up to Christmas with the Russian State Ballet performing Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty between 28 November and 1 December.
Which, of course, brings us to panto time. It’s as always a traditional show, complete with Principal Boy (Emma Thornett) and Dame (Royce Mills). The story is Aladdin – the choice of a number of theatres in the south-east this winter – and it runs from 7 December until 13 January. 2013 doesn’t seem all that far away now, and three contrasted plays are already scheduled.
The Edward Bond translation of Wedekind’s Spring Awakening from 17 to 19 January is followed by the latest Alan Ayckbourn – Surprises (it premieres in Chichester this month) between 23 January and 2 February and then by Yes, Prime Minister (7 to 16 February). There’s also a full programme of smaller-scale and one-person shows in the Mill Studio as well as theatre for children and a number of amateur events.