Oxford Playhouse is delighted to kick off its Spring 2023 Season, with the very best drama, dance, comedy, digital work, and family shows playing across its stages.
Gripping and entertaining drama includes Bill Kenwright’s acclaimed stage version of the nation’s favourite movie, The Shawshank Redemption in February. Starring Joe Absolom and Ben Onwukwe, this thrilling stage production examines friendship, injustice, friendship and hope behind the bars of a maximum-security facility.
Oxford Playhouse is thrilled to be a co-producer with the world-renowned international touring company Complicité, on their new production, Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of The Dead, based on the novel by Nobel Prize winning Polish author Olga Tokarczuk. A thought-provoking, wry and otherworldly murder mystery, this is a tale about the cosmos, poetry, and the limitations and possibilities of activism.
In March, Pilot Theatre’s award-winning production of Malorie Blackman’sNoughts & Crossestours to The Playhouse. The story of Romeo & Juliet is reimagined in a world where love between a Nought and a Cross is forbidden – a captivating drama of love, revolution and what it means to grow up in a divided society.
Another co-production in May sees Oxford Playhouse team up with Inspector Sands and China Plate for a reimagining of Emily Bronté’sWuthering Heights. The famous love story of Heathcliff and Cathy comes to life in this inventive and intelligent production, with Inspector Sands characteristic humour, passion, and pathos.
A new comedy of devotion, desire and dancing queens comes to the stage in May with The Way Old Friends Do written by Ian Hallard and directed by Mark Gatiss. Two school friends in the late 80s tentatively come out: one as gay, the other – more shockingly – as an ABBA fan. Thirty years later they reunite to form the world’s first ABBA tribute band – in drag.
Oxford Playhouse Young Company return the main stage with Lee Hall’s adaptation of Carlo Goldini’s A Servant To Two Masters. Paul Simpson,Oxford Playhouse Participation Manager and director for the show commented: “Our brilliant Young Company bring yet another fantastic performance to the Main Stage, this time stretching their comedic muscles in Carlo Goldoni’s Italian classic. Slapstick, wordplay, and Commedia stock characters bring this story of deception and disguise to life, expertly presented by our talented company of young performers.”
Other highlights of the Season include: the band Fairport Convention, who have been entertaining British folk-rock music lovers for over half a century; and Grammy nominated godfathers of alternative cabaret The Tiger Lillies who delve into their back catalogue presenting their most famous songs alongside new surprises.
For family audiences comes a thrilling production Unexpected Twist brought to life by The Children’s Theatre Partnership (Animal Farm, Holes)- a re-telling of Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist by one of the best-loved figures in children’s books Michael Rosen.
There’s also plenty to entertain and delight our youngest audience members this season. The hugely popular Room on the Broom, based on the book by JuliaDonaldson and Axel Scheffler comes to the main stage at the end of March, with everyone’s favourite dragon Zog returning in July.
For dance lovers, we are thrilled to present the award-winning Ballet Black, now in their 21st year, who present a double bill of new and original work by award-winning choreographers Will Tuckett and Mthuthuzeli November.
For the digital stage, Transience from Hitcher Encounters is a newly curated, interactive production that whisks the audience through a suspenseful adventure to find a missing artefact that has been sucked inside a magical arcade game. A one-on-one phone call experience is personalised for each audience member – no two Transience performances are alike.
Oxford Playhouse has long held a reputation for presenting the very best in Comedy and Talks, and this season is no exception. Kicking off Spring, we are joined by the hugely talented Rob Newman, live on stage and Playhouse patron Stewart Lee. In March, Chris McCausland takes the stage in Speaky Blinder, with Nick Mohammed joining us later in the Spring with The Very Best & Worse of Mr Swallow, as well as Dr John Cooper Clarke performing stand up poetry from his new collection I Wanna Be Yours.
For antiques lovers Talking Antiques & A Little Bit of Nonsense is sure to be a hit on 16 April as we hear fascinating stories from Philip Serrell,Charles Hanson and Charlie Ross. All three will be kept in check by the delightful and effervescence Christina Trevanion.
The very best of Oxford University Student drama is presented in February with George Gerswin’s Tony award-winning musical An American in Paris featuring the hit songs I Got Rhythmn and Stairway to Paradise; followed by a new production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which in a time of ecological crisis asks can humans control nature?
The season also sees a wealth of talent on the Playhouse main stage from local companies, with Oxford Operatic Society (OXOPS) staging Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s iconic musical Evita in January, Oxford Theatre Guild presenting the funny and heart-warming tale of a woman who triumphed against all the odds in Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale; and Musical Youth Company of Oxford (MYCO) let loose their inner goth inside the spooky mansion of the eccentrically macabre The Addams Family.