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Young and Old, East and West, Words and Music in Watford this Spring

By • Southeast
There’s a mixture of the familiar and the less well-known in the spring season just announced for the Palace Theatre in Watford. Three performances in the theatre, on 28 and 29 January, of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus precede a major tour of smaller venues and schools through to 5 March. George Perrin, the artistic director of nabokov, directs; the designer is Signe Beckmann.

Between 5 and 27 February the modern classic Brighton Beach Memoirs by Neil Simon is staged as an in-house production directed by Jennie Darnell and designed by Jonathan Fensom. Darnell is a former associate director of the Hampstead Theatre who now directs episodes of the BBC soap EastEnders. Simon’s play also turns on family relationships and a teenage boy who’s just discovered the attractions of the opposite sex.

Two shows for children – The Night Keeper from Gomito Productions (6 March) and Pinocchio from Indefinite Articles and Scamp Theatre (30 March) –  bookend The Glass Menagerie. Tennessee Williams’ autobiographical play in Polly Teale’s production is a collaboration between Salisbury Playhouse and Shared Experience, of which Teale is artistic director. The designer is Naomi Dawson, movement is by Liz Rankin, music by Peter Salem and the lighting by Colin Grenfell. It runs from 23 to 27 March.

Mrs Reynolds and the Ruffian is a Palace commission. Brigid Lamour, the theatre’s artistic director, had admired Gary Owen’s previous play (We That Are Left, staged in 2007) and so asked him to write a new play for the theatre. It examines the relationship between an elderly woman and the lad who vandalised her garden. Forced to make reparation by repairing the damage he’s caused, at first they can only confront each other. But attitudes as well as people can change. You can find out how and why between 15 April and 8 May.

From the Birmingham Stage Company comes a new David Wood adaptation of Roald Dahl. George’s Marvellous Medicine. Strange things happen when a young inventor sets out to cure his granny’s temper outbursts. There are morning, afternoon and some evening performances from 19 to 22 May. The way that youth sees age seems to be something of a thread running though this season –  the Opera Group, Brighton Dome and Festival and the Palace Theatre are the co-producers of The Lion’s Face, an opera with lyrics by Glyn Maxwell and a score by Elena Langer. It’s about a man who forgets his own birthday, whereupon time appears to run backward. Evening performances on 28 and 29 May.

Another world première follows from 3 to 5 June. This is Desert Boy by Mojisola Adebeyo in a co-production from Intro and The Albany. Felix Cross’s production gives us the tragedies which link African slaves seized to work America’s plantations 300 hundred years ago and a modern young London boy fatally caught in a clash between rival street gangs. The music is by Cross and Allyson Devenish with designs by Nicolai Hart-Hansen. That’s followed by Britain’s Got Bhangra, a new musical from Rifco Arts between 15 and 19 June.

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