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Shockheaded Creators Mount Hanging Man at Leeds

By • West End
Leeds' West Yorkshire Playhouse has this week announced its summer 2003 season, which will include a new show from the creators of the Olivier Award-winning Shockheaded Peter, major revivals of plays by Alan Ayckbourn and April de Angelis and one world premiere.

The schedule of in-house productions kicks off in WYP's Quarry auditorium with de Angelis' play Playhouse Creatures, which follows the fortunes of six feisty actresses during 1660s London when women were first permitted on the British stage. De Angelis' other period plays include A Laughing Matter, inspired by Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer, which Out of Joint are currently presenting as a double bill with the Goldsmith original at the National Theatre and on tour.

First seen in 1993, Playhouse Creatures was seen in the West End in 1997, starring Sheila Gish and Saskia Reeves as part of Peter Hall's repertory season at the Old Vic. It has been rewritten for this new mounting at Leeds, which stars Joanne Froggatt and Sandra Voe. Directed by Paines Plough associate director John Tiffany and designed by Neil Warmington, it runs from 4 April to 10 May 2003.

It's followed, from 19 April to 17 May 2003 in the WYP Courtyard, by The Hanging Man, the latest offering from Improbable Theatre, co-creators of the hit "junk opera" Shockheaded Peter, which premiered at WYP in 1998 before snowballing into an international cult hit and garnering myriad awards, including two 2002 Oliviers.

A bitter-sweet tale of a half-finished building and a man in search of death, The Hanging Man is directed, designed and scripted by Improbable's artistic directors Phelim McDermott, Lee Simpson and Julian Crouch. Like Shockheaded before it, the new show is co-produced with WYP and the Lyric Hammersmith and, following its Leeds dates, will transfer to the Lyric for a limited London season from 2 to 21 June 2003 ahead of a US tour in the autumn which will culminate at New York's Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Back at Leeds, the summer 2003 schedule will continue with a major revival of Ayckbourn's 1987 comedy A Small Family Business, directed by WYP artistic director Ian Brown and running in the Quarry from 6 June to 12 July 2003. On his 45th birthday, Jack McCracken is handed the daunting task of successfully steering the family furniture business Ayres & Graces, into a new era. Starting out with the most honourable of intentions, he's quickly forced to compromise his values, particularly after discovering his teenaged daughter's predilection for shoplifting.

Running concurrently with A Small Family Business, from 27 June to 12 July in the Courtyard, will be the world premiere production of Sheffield-born author Marcia Layne's first play, Off Camera, which follows two London girls as they seek romance on holiday in Jamaica.

During the summer season, WYP will also present schools' performances of Broken Angel and will host numerous touring productions including the RSC's Midnight's Children, Northern Broadsides' Jacobean double bill of A Woman Killed with Kindness and Henry V, John Godber's Reunion, Theatre Alibi's Why the Whales Came, Silent Cry and, from Leicester Haymarket, When Amar Met Jay.

- by Terri Paddock


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