Leeds’ West Yorkshire Playhouse opens its autumn/winter season tonight (22 September 2004, previews from 18 September) with a world premiere stage adaptation of erotic American thriller The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Other season in-house highlights include: Roy Smiles’ new comedy about Spike Milligan and the Goons, Ying Tong; a Christmas staging of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; the musical return of Blues in the Night; and a new play about the devastating personal effects of Mad Cow Disease.

In The Postman Always Rings Twice, which runs to 16 October 2004 in the main house Quarry theatre, a 1930s roadside diner is home to Greek immigrant Nick and his American wife Cora, whose drab existence is shaken up by the arrival of drifter Frank. Charlotte Emmerson (The Coast of Utopia) and Patrick O'Kane star as Cora and Frank in the production directed by Lucy Bailey and designed by Bunny Christie (whose previous collaboration Baby Doll starred Emmerson).

With its mix of eroticism and violence, James M Cain’s novel The Postman Always Rings Twice caused moral outrage in the US when it was first published in 1934. Hollywood has twice filmed the steamy tale: in 1946 with Lana Turner and John Garfield; in 1981, with Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson. The Leeds version is newly adapted by Andrew Rattenbury.

WYP’s 2004/2005 season continues in the main house with Ying Tong (See The Goss, 28 Oct 2003), running from 22 October to 20 November 2004. Two years after the death of Spike Milligan (pictured), Roy Smiles’ new off-beat comedy tells the story of Milligan and fellow comedians Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine, who created the 1950s radio comedy The Goon Show. Ying Tong will be directed by Michael Kingsbury, whose staging of another radio classic, Round the Horne, has become an unexpected West End hit.

Come Christmastime, the Quarry will house a new production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, adapted by Adrian Mitchell from CS Lewis’ opening book to The Chronicles of Narnia. Directed by WYP artistic director Ian Brown, it runs from 29 November 2004 to 5 February 2005. There will also be Christmas seasons for under-8’s show Pinocchio (in the Barber studio, 16 December to 15 January) and Blues in the Night (in the Courtyard, 10 December to 29 January).

The Courtyard will also host The Bacchae (24 September to 16 October 2004), co-produced by WYP with Kneehigh Theatre for a UK tour, and Rachael McGill’s The Lemon Princess (4 February to 5 March 2005), co-produced with the Caird Company and inspired by the real-life death of Rachel Forber, who died from new variant CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) in 2001.

- by Terri Paddock