Local Playwright Staging Play on Home SoilDate: 31 January 2011
What do you get when you combine Chekhov, an Olivier-Award winning actor, an emerging theatre company and a Newcastle playwright? Well, you get an exciting double-bill of theatre – heading to Northern Stage in February.
Actor David Bradley (possibly best known as the caretaker Argus Filch in the Harry Potter film series) stars in On The Harmful Effects of Tobacco / Can Cause Death, directed by Charlotte Bennett and produced by Forward Theatre Project.
The production stems from a writers development project led by Bennett, Artistic Director of Forward Theatre Project, back in May 2010. 20 writers were invited to submit a companion play to Chekhov’s monologue On The Harmful Effects of Tobacco.
Four pieces were shortlisted and performed at York Theatre Royal, from which one was selected for further development and production.
In Chekhov’s short we meet tired husband and enthusiastic smoker Nyukhin as he delivers a lecture (at the request of his wife) on the evils of smoking ... but is it really that simple? In the companion play – Can Cause Death – we meet the dreaded wife and get to hear her side of the story.
In a neat twist to the tale, Bradley stars as both husband and wife.
Can Cause Death is written by North-East playwright Alison Carr. She explains “I was surprised how laugh-out-loud funny Tobacco is. I think the key for me was trying to capture this balance between comic and tragic. The wife, Popova, is as monstrous as we expect, but I hope the audience also come to understand her reasons – her own disappointments and frustrations from having to endure this husband for so long. She was great fun to write.”
Alison’s previous credits in the region include Yackety Yak, Tittle Tattle Tattletale, That One Night with Live Theatre; Second Most Disappointing (Cloud9/The Customs House); Mam, Dad, Monkey & Me (New Writing North) and My Mam Was An Ice Cream Blonde (Winner, People’s Play Award).
And this latest production got off to a fantastic start when it was given the opportunity to premiere at the National Theatre, where it went on to sell-out. Alison says “The National was definitely a highlight of my career so far. But I’m equally excited to see the play in my home town, it feels very special for it to be coming up here”.
Tickets are on sale now from Northern Stage for the double-bill, which plays for two-nights only - Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 February. After the Newcastle dates, plans are already afoot for the double-bill to return to London in the autumn.
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