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The Watermill announces 2023 spring season including Bill Bryson stage adaptation and Mansfield Park

The award-winning venue has unveiled future plans

The Watermill in Newbury
© Eden Harrhy

The award-winning Watermill in Newbury has unveiled its 2023 spring season.

The venue, which recently played host to the hit actor-musician revival of Whistle Down the Wind, will open its season with a stage adaptation of Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island, in association with Simon Friend Productions and penned by Tim Whitnall (Morecambe). Directed by the venue's artistic director Paul Hart and designed by Katie Lias, the piece examines the contemporary quirks of British life.

The venue's writer-in-residence Becca Chadder will pen a fresh version of Lewis Carroll's Alice Through the Looking Glass for the Watermill's youth ensemble, titled Through the Looking Glass (23 to 25 March).

After this, Barney Norris will direct the first major UK revival of his award-winning play Visitors, running from 31 March to 22 April. Alexandra Wood (Silence) will then adapt Kate Summerscale's best-selling novel The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, billed as "the original Victorian whodunnit", from 5 May to 10 June.

Wrapping up the season will be a new outdoor adaptation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, presented by Tonderai Munyevu and Arne Pohlmeier and produced by Zimbabwean company Two Gents. The show explores links between Austen and New World Slavery and will tour to rural locations in Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire.

Hart said: "In this diverse combination of work we're reinventing how we see ourselves as we explore and celebrate the life and history of our nation. With Bill Bryson's acerbic observational wit, Notes from a Small Island invites us to see the UK afresh from the viewpoint of a critical friend, while in the topsy turvey world of Through the Looking Glass the relatable young Alice finds reality in absurdity.

"We're ripping apart Mansfield Park in collaboration with Two Gents Productions, uncovering buried conversations in a much-loved classic text. A brand-new production of Visitors takes on new resonance post-pandemic as we assess the damage to individual lives and the impact on the care system, and domestic extremes are explored further in the first ever stage adaptation of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher which delves into a fascinating murder in Victorian England leading which led to a national outcry."

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