Manchester’s Royal Exchange has announced details for its winter 2005/6 season, which will include two world premieres, a Christmas revival of a classic Broadway comedy, a rarely performed JM Barrie play and the world’s most famous love story.

Following the success this past March with an Antony and Cleopatra starring Tom Mannion and Josette Bushell-Mingo, the Exchange turns its attention to another of the Bard’s tragic romances, Romeo and Juliet. Directed by associate artistic director Jacob Murray, the tale of star-crossed lovers will run from 7 September to 22 October 2005.

It’s followed by the world premiere of All the Ordinary Angels, written by the Exchange’s writer-in-residence Nick Leather. Set in Manchester’s Italian community in the 1980s, it follows the competition between siblings Rocco and Lino to win their father’s ice cream-making business. All the Ordinary Angels is directed by Michael Buffong (Six Degrees of Separation at the Exchange) and was awarded this year’s Pearson Award for new writing. It runs from 26 October to 19 November 2005 in the main house.

Meanwhile, another world premiere, Chloe MossChristmas Is Miles Away, will play in the studio from 2 to 19 November 2005. Moss’ other plays include A Day in Dull Armour and How Love Is Spelt, which was produced at London’s Bush Theatre last year. This new piece, about two boys who grow apart as they grow older, is set in Manchester in 1990. It’s directed by associate artistic director Sarah Frankcom (On the Shore of the Wide World, Kes, Rutherford and Son).

Joint artistic director Greg Hersov provides the Exchange’s Christmas offering in the form of Harvey. Premiered in 1944 on Broadway, Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play was made into a 1950 film starring James Stewart (pictured). The whimsical comedy tells of Elwood P Dowd, well known in his small town for his little eccentricities. But when Elwood starts introducing people to his new friend, an invisible six-foot rabbit called Harvey, his sister reaches the end of her tether. The Exchange’s production of Harvey will run from 22 November 2005 to 7 January 2006.

The winter season rounds off with What Every Woman Knows from 10 January 2006. Penned by Peter Pan author JM Barrie in 1908 and set in his native Scotland, the play centres on the Wylie family, victims of a recurrent burglar who never steals anything - is he after sister Maggie? The production is directed by joint artistic director Braham Murray (Antony and Cleopatra, The Importance of Being Earnest, Hobson’s Choice. What Every Woman Knows continues until 26 February 2006.

- by Hannah Kennedy