Oxford Premieres Inland Sea & Revives ContractorDate: 3 April 2002
Oxford Stage Company will mount two productions this month - the world premiere of Naomi Wallace's The Inland Sea, which has a limited season at London's Wilton's Music Hall from tonight, and a revival of David Story's The Contractor, which launches a five-week tour from Eastbourne on 10 April 2002.
The Inland Sea, the latest play from American writer Wallace, is an 18th-century epic about the aspirations of Asquith Brown, younger brother to the famous gardener of the period, Lancelot Capability Brown. Wallace's previous plays, which includeBirdy, Slaughter City and One Flea Spare, have been performed on the fringe, in the West End and also by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The American premiere of her One Flea Spare won four major awards, including the 1997 Obie award for Best New Play.
The cast of The Inland Sea includes Jo McInnes, James Lance, Alan Williams and Kate Duchene. Directed by Oxford Stage artistic director Dominic Dromgoole and designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, the production will run at the Wilton's Music Hall, the world's oldest surviving music hall, from 3 to 28 April.
Opening on 10 April at the Devonshire Park Theatre in Eastbourne is The Contractor by David Storey, famed as the "play with the tent" on its original run at the Royal Court in 1969. Set in the 1960s, a tent contractor's daughter is preparing to get married and all of the lives in three generations of her Yorkshire family are about to change.
The play's original production was widely acclaimed, and winner of the 1970 London Theatre Critics Award for Best Play of the Year. Sean Holmes directs this revival, which the company is remounting following last year's successful tour. It is designed by Anthony Lamble with a cast that includes Paul Moriarty (Eastenders' George Palmer), Rachel Bell, Fergus O'Donnell, Kate Odey and James Cash.
Following Eastbourne, The Contractor will visit Clywd Theatr Cymru (16 -20 April), Salisbury Playhouse (23 -27 April), Harrogate Theatre (30 April - 4 May), and Wakefield Theatre Royal (7 -11 May), before ending its tour at the Greenwich Theatre from 14 - 18 May.
Founded in 1984, Oxford Stage Company is one of the UK's most respected touring outfits, presenting a broad selection of stage works from neglected classics to more modern pieces by contemporary authors. In 1999, the company held a season's residency at the West End's Whitehall Theatre, mounting limited-run productions of Penny for a Song, 50 Revolutions, Three Sisters and Making Noise Quietly. This past year it brought its acclaimed revival of Caryl Churchill's Top Girls into the West End following a UK-wide tour.
- by Tim Connor