Summer’s here (more or less), which means the Everyman and Playhouse are turning attentions to what comes next, recently unveiling some big hitters to come in their next season, including the return of the latter venue’s non-festive, grown up Christmas show while the good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll panto returns to its original home. Bored? You won’t be…
New productions Juno and the Paycock, Sex and the Three Day Week and Bright Phoenix have been “created to reflect our time and place and the theatres’ desire to be daring and create plays that connect the theatrical inventors of the present and future to the heartbeat of the city”, they say, seemingly without pause for breath.
Artistic director Gemma Bodinetz said: “Having the Everyman back has reminded us of the joys of a rich and eclectic season across both theatres, infused with the heartbeat of the city and brought to life by extraordinary ensembles of actors and artists. This coming season the in-house productions at both theatres celebrate full blooded theatricality, from the rich tragi-comedy of one of the masterpieces of Irish theatre, through Liverpool magic realism with songs, a classic French farce reinvented and relocated and of course our many splendoured rock n’ roll panto. It’s a season that we hope reflects the idiosyncrasy, politics, wit and passion of Liverpool whilst celebrating the universal magic and power of self-conscious theatricality.”
Bodinetz will direct Juno and the Paycock at the Playhouse in a co-production with Bristol Old Vic. The cast features Niamh Cusack (The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time, Apollo/ National Theatre; Playboy Of The Western World, The Old Vic; Heartbeat, ITV) as the eponymous Juno and Des McAleer (Hunger, Icon Productions; The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Liverpool Everyman; Casualty, BBC) as her husband Jack Boyle. In a world of zero contract hours, the spread of pawnbrokers, and matriarchs like Juno who struggle to hold their family together against the odds, Sean O’Casey’s classic resonates now as much as it did 90 years ago.
Jeff Young’s new play, Bright Phoenix, has its world première at the Everyman in October and is inspired by a hidden Liverpool, a version of the city that is unauthorised and often unseen. A wild play about the carnival of the city at night seen through different eyes, it is a love story tinged with tragedy about a gang of rebel kids who don’t fit in who grow to be a gang of rebel adults who still don’t fit in, their love for a dying cinema and their mad plan to bring it back to life like a phoenix in the night.
The Playhouse Christmas show will be Sex and the Three Day Week, by Stephen Sharkey, based on L’Hôtel du Libre Échange by Georges Feydeau. Sharkey (whose last work on the Playhouse stage was his reworking of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui) will take the original and reimagine it for early 1970s Britain – a time of strikes, blackouts, free love and the three day week. With an explosion of middle-age crises, mistaken identities and misfiring sexual shenanigans, everything is turned upside down when two couples explore relationships outside of their marriages and release a roller coaster of laughter.
After three years away from its spiritual home, the rock ‘n’ roll panto returns to the Everyman with Little Red Riding Hood: Howl Lotta Love, written by regular writers Sarah A Nixon and Mark Chatterton.
The Kite Runner will make a return to the Playhouse for one-week only, with Ben Turner once more in the lead role of Amir.
As the Everyman turns 50, its spirit and history will be celebrated with a series of events throughout the autumn. In August and September there will be an exhibition charting its history. and the venue will join a national-wide event, hosting a pop-up Fun Palace inspired by Joan Littlewood on October 4 and 5. Sense of Sound’s new commission for the 2014 Liverpool International Music Festival, Migration Music, takes to the main stage on August 28 and 29. The Everyword Festival returns at the end of October with 23 events taking place across both venues and around the city. The theatres will also be supporting Cosmic Trigger, Daisy Eris Campbell’s play that celebrates her father – and legendary Everyman Artistic Director Ken Campbell’s – 1976 play Illuminatos, which will première in Liverpool in November.
The Playhouse has the première of JOHN, a new verbatim dance-theatre work by Lloyd Newson, artistic director of DV8 Physical Theatre, to will launch Homotopia. The theatres will also host touring work by Northern Broadsides with She Stoops To Conquer and children’s favourites Tall Stories stage Room on the Broom.
Mark Thomas’s new show Cuckooed tells the true story of how he was spied on by Britain biggest arms manufacturer, while former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion performs poems from his new collection The Customs House and Ruby Wax performs Sane New World, based on her best-selling book of the same name. Tim Firth, who’s Flint Street Nativity royally entertained audiences at the Playhouse in the past, returns with This Is My Family.