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Behind the scenes at new Dickens-inspired play Unexpected Twist

The show opens in February in Northampton before embarking on tour

Kate Donnachie and Nadine Johnson
© Manuel Harlan

Delve behind the scenes and see snaps from the workshop for new show Unexpected Twist, based on the children's book by Michael Rosen.

With original music by rising R&B star Yaya Bey and BAC Beatbox Academy's Conrad Murray, Unexpected Twist is adapted by Roy Williams (Death of England). It tells of a school girl, Shona, whose life starts to feel like it is melding with the book she's studying – Oliver Twist.

Rosen (Writer) said today: "I have always been a huge lover of theatre and the dramatic arts. I believe in the power and value of live performance and rate it as an equal to all the other literary activities.

"I can't describe what a thrill it is for me to know Unexpected Twist is going to be a play. I've already seen a draft script and it leapt off the page. I could immediately 'see' it as being a funny, tough, edgy, contemporary, powerful show. I am desperate to see it."

James Dacre, Roy Williams, Yaya Bey, Conrad Murray, Sarah Stacey
© Manuel Harlan

The play will open on 11 February 2023 at Royal and Derngate in Northampton, before a national tour kicks off on 28 February 2023.

Williams added: "If there is no children's theatre, there will be no theatre at all in years to come. It is essential theatre gets them early. It's the opportunity for them to express themselves.

"Unexpected Twist is a story about young people for young people! That is how I felt when I first read Oliver Twist when I was a child. Those are always the best stories to hear."

The production is directed by Royal and Derngate's artistic director James Dacre, with designs by Frankie Bradshaw. Cast and additional creative team for the show are to be revealed.

Polly Lister
© Manuel Harlan

Bey explained: "Working on Unexpected Twist has been such a pleasure. Everyone has been so kind and willing to collaborate. I wasn't sure how I would relate to the story coming from the States, but there is such an emphasis on important issues that transcend culture barriers, and it has made it easy for me to pull from my experience."

Yaya Bey
© Manuel Harlan

Tour stops after Northampton include Newcastle, Canterbury, Kingston, Nottingham, Norwich, Coventry, Cheltenham, Salford, Malvern, Wolverhampton, Blackpool, Oxford and Leicester.

Murray elaborated: "Being able to bring beatbox, hip hop and grime to the show is sick, as it helps modernize the story and create a new language and theatrical form on the stage. Can't wait for audiences to see and hear it."

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