The Watermill Theatre in Newbury, currently enjoying West End success with its production of The Gondoliers, has announced details of a new season. Included are three directorial offerings from John Doyle and a new play by Alan Plater.

The venue is presently running an acclaimed rendering of The Clandestine Marriage, which gives way from 18 September 2001 to Ade Morris’ Witch. A psychological thriller, Witch follows recent successes from Morris (the venue’s Outreach Director) such as The Dreamer and Lone Flyer. The Watermill is also launching the European tour of The Merchant of Venice, performed as a Japanese language version, from 4 October 2001.

Following the popularity of his radical Gondoliers reworking, Doyle turns his hand from 10 October to Pam Gems’ musical play Piaf. Using an actor-musician ensemble that has become Doyle’s hallmark, the production delves into the life of the famous French singer and includes such songs as Milord and Non Je Ne Regrette Rien. Josephine Baird, who played Sally Bowles in Doyle’s Cabaret at the Watermill, stars as Piaf. Doyle has also adapted a family version of Cinderella and the Enchanted Slipper, for which he has gone back to the roots of the original story. With music from Sarah Travis, Cinderella opens on 30 November.

Next year will see Caryl Churchill’s Fen running from 6 February 2002, presented by the Watermill Young Company. This will be followed on 13 February by Doyle’s directing of Alan Plater’s new comedy Only a Matter of Time. Plater’s other stage works include Peggy For You, Close the Colehouse Door, Sweet Sorrow and I Thought I Heard a Rustling. Award-winning television writing successes include The Barchester Chronicles, The Beiderbecke Trilogy, Fortunes of War and Misterioso. His new play involves a railway official arriving in Wales to prepare the locals for the arrival of train lines.

The Watermill Theatre is based in a converted mill by the Lambourn river. One of only 49 producing theatres in the country, it is currently installing a new lighting control system. Edward Hall’s acclaimed Watermill production of Rose Rage is currently on tour, and Witch will follow it onto the road throughout the Autumn.

- by Gareth Thompson