Larkin Precedes Belgrade's Summer of New WritingDate: 28 May 2003
The irascible Philip Larkin is back on stage again this week with a new production of Ben Brown's Larkin With Women, which continues at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre ahead of a summer season devoted to new writing.
Commissioned by Alan Ayckbourn and premiered at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre, Larkin With Women won the 2000 TMA Award for Best New Play. Last year, it was coupled at Leeds' West Yorkshire Playhouse with another piece about the late poet, Tom Courtenay's one-man show Pretending to be Me, which transferred this spring to the West End. At the Belgrade, John Arthur plays the Coventry-born "Bard of Humberside" in a new production directed by David Giles, which continues to 7 June 2003 (opened 27 May, previews from 23 May).
Then, Belgrade gets underway with a series of plays and readings under the banner of the New Writing season, all performed in the specially reconfigured main house auditorium. First up is a production of Irish playwright Conor McPherson's monologue The Lime Tree Bower, running from 14 to 21 June 2003 and accompanied by one-off performances of McPherson's one-acters Rum and Vodka (20 June) and The Good Thief (21 June).
Neil Duffield's specially commissioned piece The Devil at Coventry will premiere from 25 to 28 June 2003. The 14th-century story of a woman whose life is changed when she takes a part in the Medieval Coventry Mystery Plays, the piece complements the mounting of The Mysteries 2003, which runs later in the summer (5 to 23 August) in a co-production with Ireland's Macnas Theatre, as well as a citywide programme of annual Mysteries events.
From 1 to 5 July 2003, Belgrade will host the Royal Shakespeare Company, Birmingham Rep and London's Hampstead Theatre for a week-long series of new play readings that includes Ron Hutchinson's Headcase, Robert Warrington's Forward, Zinnie Harris' Mid Winter, Chris O'Connell's Tall Phoenix, Helen Blakeman's The Morris and Andrew Bridgemount's Red on Black. All events are priced at just £2, including a glass of wine.
The new writing season concludes with Kid by Coventry writer Chris O'Connell. The final part of a trilogy (following 1999's Car and 2001's Raw), Kid tracks the reunion of three friends whose last meeting left all their lives shattered and forever changed. It runs at Coventry from 15 to 19 July 2003 ahead of a transfer to this year's Edinburgh Festival.
- by Terri Paddock