Theatre News

Everyman/Playhouse reveals part two of the season

Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse theatres launched part two of its 2009 programme and gave insight into some exciting productions arriving in the autumn.

During the unveiling of what is to arrive to the two stages, some positive news was first announced based on last year’s attendance figures.

Deborah Aydon, executive director of the Everyman and Playhouse, said: “The momentum of last year is continuing with a 28% increase in the amount of seats sold last year compared to 2007.

“There has been a 59% increase in the amount of newcomers and 12% increase in the amount people visiting from outside the North West. However, what particularly pleased us is a 25% increase in the amount of people attending both theatres from within Merseyside.”

Aydon also revealed an 18% increase in the amount of ticket sales so far in 2009 compared to this time last year. “This is incredible considering how much the economy is affecting everybody,” she added.

Moving into the future and a glimpse at what is arriving to the city from these two long standing Liverpool theatres, artistic director Gemma Bodinetz gave a quick overview of shows being staged this year.

Opening the new season is When We Are Married at the Liverpool Playhouse on 30 April, with a cast of 13 including Les Dennis, Tom Georgeson, Polly Hemingway and Tricia Kelly.

“This production is currently in rehearsal in Leeds where it is appearing first before it arrives to Liverpool. I watched Les Dennis in Art and it was the first time I had seen him performing a serious piece of theatre and I’ve got to say I was really impressed by him,” Bodinetz said.

Keeping the local talent flag flying is Liverpool playwright Laurence Wilson, who has his second play, Lost Monsters, staged in his home city on 22 May.

A dreamy play about stranded runaways seeking refuge, Lost Monsters was given plenty of praise and was even compared to Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Explaining this comparison, Wilson said: “The play is embracing the themes of The Tempest in particular the magic but it’s essentially a play about isolation and looks at where the world is today.”

Actress Rebecca Ryan, who plays Debbie Gallagher in Channel 4 series Shameless, has already been cast in Lost Monsters with further announcements to be made for the other parts.

Wilson, however, returns firstly with his community production Spirits of the Stone on 17 April at the Everyman. “I spent some time with people in Kirkby and found out the area was one of the first to be visited by Vikings, so this is play about unity but it also has reference to Vikings.”

Spirits of the Stone will be performed by a cast of 25 Kirkby residents aged between 14 to 83 on the Everyman stage.

Renowned Scouser Roger McGough also makes a return to his home city with another adaptation of Molière’s work.

Molière’s final piece The Hypochondriac has been adapted by the Liverpool poet laureate this time following the huge success of Tartuffe last year and again Bodinetz is directing. She enthused: “Roger has spun just enough magic on this as he did with Tartuffe.”

Two productions lined up for the autumn were also announced including Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker.

One of Wales’ finest actors, Jonathan Pryce, has already been confirmed in the cast which is something of a coup for the city.

Bodinetz was fortunate to have worked with the masterful Pinter, who tragically passed away Christmas last year. She said: “I was very young at the time but so privileged to have worked with Harold Pinter, so to have one of his plays here in Liverpool means an awful lot to me.

“I know Harold always wanted Jonathan Pryce to play the part of Davies and when Jonathan was approached for this production he said he wouldn’t want to perform the role in any other city.”

To end, Bodinetz said a new production of Kes has been adapted for the stage for autumn, which is involving schools in the region, while Dick Whitington was confirmed as this year’s rock pantomime at the Everyman.