Theatre Shop has just released its bumper programme of talent for the Spring season, launching with the side-splitting duo Living Spit “the Morecambe and Wise of Weston Super Mare”. I was so pleased to hear that Howard Coggins is rehearsed and ready to return to the Theatre Shop stage as Trevor in “One Man and His Cow”. Ian Harris will be performing the role for the rest of the tour.
The Spring Programme is packed with leading theatre, music and comedy to suit all ages and tastes. Highlights for me, aside from Living Spit, are Luke Wright, heralded by the Guardian as a ‘sensational writer’ (couldn’t agree more)’; Spitz and Co with “Elvis in Blue Hawaii” because it sounds like it’s going to be an evening of uproarious laughter; “The Half” by Tread Softly Productions because it’s written by Danielle Ward, another wonderful writer whose writing credits include Brassic, Mongrels, Not Going Out and Idris Elba’s In The Long Run. She’s also appeared on Mock The Week, Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe and The News Quiz.
It’s a great programme; read on for synopses, trailers and reviews.
LIVING SPIT: ONE MAN AND HIS COW
Monday 20th March 2023 – Saturday 1st April 2023 Starts: 7.30 p.m. Running time: 1h 40min including interval Age: 10+
Farmer Trevor has a big problem. Given just months to live, he is faced with the dilemma of which one of his three children to bequeath his beloved farmstead to. Each has their own beguiling qualities, and Trevor just can’t choose between them. Then one fateful night in the cowshed, help arrives from the most unlikely sources…
“A rural romp, written and performed by “the Morecambe and Wise of Weston Super Mare”, featuring a multitude of agricultural antics and farmyard frolics, all told with homespun charm and wit and entirely in rhyme and song.” The Daily Telegraph
“Living Spit’s original animal rhyming play ‘One Man and his Cow’ is jam-packed with farmyard frolics, agricultural clichés and rural wrong-doings that will mercilessly milk every funny bone in your body.” Visit Dorset
“A top-notch comedy act on cracking form” What’s On Stage
ROUSTABOUT THEATRE: DINOSAURS AND ALL THAT RUBBISH
Sunday 16th April 2023 Starts: 2.00 p.m. Running time: 1 hour no interval Age: 3+
Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish is an adaptation of Michael Foreman’s classic children’s book (celebrating its 50th-anniversary last year), which, ahead of its time, warned of the environmental crisis facing our planet.
One small step for man, one giant pile of rubbish left behind! Man’s dream to reach the stars leaves the world in ruins and disturbs the sleeping dinosaurs. Will they wake up and save planet Earth?
Shortlisted: Best Theatre for Children, OFFIE Awards 2022.
“An imaginative adaptation of Michael Foreman’s environmental tale with dancing dinosaurs, fuelled by rock’n’roll. This riotous hour, packed with signature Roustabout silliness, will have you tapping your toes from start to finish!” Wardrobe Theatre
“The story is exciting and very well portrayed and interactive, the music was foot-stomping and catchy with multiple instruments being played, and the cast of three were a truly talented bunch” Mini Ttravellers.
“Will put a big smile on your children’s faces” ★★★★ Theatre Weekly
SPITZ & CO: ELVIS IN BLUE HAWAII
Friday 21st April 2023 Starts: 7.30 p.m. Running time: 1 hour no interval All ages
A brand new comedy from the creators of “Gloriator”, “Glorilla’, and “Les Gloriables” which will leave you all shook up. So dig out your best Hawaiian shirt and escape to Paradise!
Determined to give Oscar-nominated Austin Butler a run for his money, award-winning Elvis impersonator Joe Reeve stars in his own version of the classic Elvis film “Blue Hawaii”. His long-time tour manager Josephine Cunningham is there to keep the show on the road … next stop Vegas!
Expect the usual mayhem and lots of audience interaction, plus all your favourite Elvis songs.
Devised and performed by Susie Donkin and Joe Reeve Directed by Greg Banks , Angus Barr and Rina Vergano Designed by Sue Condie
“The funniest and silliest thing I’ve ever seen – pure joy” Stagetalk Magazine
“Original, witty and great fun! An appreciative Chedworth audience once again filled our Village Hall with hoots of laughter. Spitz & Co have done it again” Event organiser
SCOTTISH FALSETTO SOCK PUPPET THEATRE: EUROVISION SOCK CONTEST
Earth’s funniest footwear are back with their latest comedy hour. Fresh from a hit run at the Edinburgh Fringe they bring you a whole Song Contest for your voting pleasure. With entries from everyone from Scandinavia to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who will win? You decide. Expect the usual songs, sketches, and Gags Sans Frontieres.
“The finest, funniest fringe comedy you will see in Edinburgh” Everything Theatre.
“A National Treasure, by any reasonable definition” Starburst
“Beautifully up-beat, energetic, and absurd” EdFringe Review
LUKE WRIGHT: THE REMAINS OF LOGAN DANKWORTH
Friday 12th May 2023 Starts: 7.30 p.m. Running time: Age: 14+
Logan Dankworth, columnist and Twitter warrior, grew up romanticising the political turmoil of the 1980s. Now, as the EU Referendum looms he is determined to be in the fray of the biggest political battle for years. Meanwhile, Logan’s wife Megan wants to leave London to raise their daughter better. As tensions rise at home and across the nation, something is set to be lost forever.
The third of Luke Wright’s trilogy of political verse plays looks at trust, fatherhood and family in the age of Brexit. The show was a big hit with audiences and reviewers at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe.
Written and performed by Luke Wright; directed by Alex Thorpe; dramaturgy by Sarah Dickenson; scored by Polly Wright; lighting design by Joe Price; photos by Andrew Florides
“Human, vulnerable, eminently honest and very, very eloquent…. Sensational writing” Guardian
“Luke Wright is brilliant, so it’s no surprise that this is a compelling, powerful play fusing intelligent writing with an engaging performance” ★★★★ ThreeWeeks
STEPPING OUT THEATRE: REFUGEE CATS
By Ludmyla Tymoshenko and Marina Smilyanets Directed by Cher Douglas
Saturday 13th May 2023 Starts: 2.00 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. Running time: 1 hour Age: 14+
Formed in 1997, based in Bristol and with over one hundred productions to its credit, Stepping Out Theatre is the country’s leading mental health theatre group.
A funny, heart-warming and inspiring story by two well-known playwrights from Kyiv about friendship, survival, and coming to terms with the refugee experience. Currently the most popular Ukrainian play in the world, ‘Refugee Cats’ is helping thousands of Ukrainian children come to terms with their changed world.
Formed in 1997, based in Bristol and with over one hundred productions to its credit, SteppingOut Theatre is the country’s leading mental health theatre group.
All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Playwrights Theatre of Kyiv
BRAVE WORDS: HOW TO BE A BETTER HUMAN
Thursday 18th May 2023 Starts: 7.30 p.m. Running time: Age: 14+
A spoken word comedy about grief, loss and self-acceptance, telling Chris’ story of losing two of the biggest relationships in his life – Dad and Wife – in the space of a few months. Performed by Chris Singleton and directed by Tom Malcolm Wright, How to Be A Better Human uses PowerPoint comedy, autobiographical storytelling and poetry to open accessible conversations about grief, loss and mental health. It finds the lightness and humour in death, loss and divorce and explores how we can lose everything and still find the strength to rebuild. How growing a beard can be the best decision of your life, and why some hedgehogs are absolute d*******s.
“A refreshing message in a likeable, low-key spoken word show…honest and entertaining” Lyn Gardner, The Stage
“A superb and slick debut. Surprisingly hilarious.” Porl Cooper Harrogate Theatres
“True artistic vulnerability.” Rio Matchett Leeds Playhouse
TREAD SOFTLY PRODUCTIONS: THE HALF BY DANIELLE WARD
Saturday 27th May 2023 Starts: 7.30 p.m. Running time: Age: 16+
Tread Softly is a new Bristol based theatre company created to showcase passionate, heartfelt work. They describe themselves as contemporary, independent, sometimes challenging, and always top-notch.
Danielle Ward is an award-winning stand-up comedian turned writer. Her writing credits include Brassic, Mongrels, Not Going Out and Idris Elba’s In The Long Run. Her TV and radio appearances include Mock The Week, Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe and The News Quiz.
Hilarious, intelligent and seriously moving, Danielle Ward’s play is a no-holds-barred look at being a woman in comedy. Two comedians walk into a dressing room. Reunited for a charity gala at the London Palladium, estranged double act Cathy and Nell haven’t spoken for ten years. As they prepare backstage to revive their comedy sketch show based on the cult gothic movie, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, they realise ten years is a lo-o-o-o-ng time in showbiz…
“The Half is a play that expertly balances both its comedy and its tragedy.”★★★★★ One4Review
BRAVE BOLD DRAMA: THE MUNCH MISSION
Sunday 28th May 2023 Starts: 2.00 p.m. Running time: 1 hour Age: 6+
Oh help, our Munch is missing! Do you possess the wit, nerve and skill to become the next CIA agent? A world-famous artwork has gone missing from Oslo National Museum.
Work with Agents Kahlo and Dali of the Company of International Artists to solve a fiendishly sneaky art heist. Help them to chase leads, decipher clues and interrogate suspects to retrieve the missing artwork in this globe-trotting adventure.
Full of mystery, nods to film noir and a broad streak of quirky comedy, The Munch Mission is a playable family theatre show from award winning theatre company Brave Bold Drama.
“The on-stage chemistry between Lawless and Simmons crackles with artistic energy.” Get Your Coats On
“Full of mystery, nods to film noir and a broad streak of quirky comedy, THE MUNCH MISSION is a playable family theatre show. Playable means you call the shots about how the story unfolds!” The Company of International Artists
“Brilliant . . . fun, educational and interactive show that engages children in the wonders of the art world through an exciting adventure across the globe.” Emily Greenslade, Theatre on the Downs
JACK DEAN & COMPANY: HERO & LEANDER OR, I LOVE YOU, BUT EVERYTHING’S UNDER WATER
Sunday 17th June 2023 Starts: 2.00 p.m. Running time: 1 hour Age: 14+
Sing, dance and cry with us in this bittersweet gig theatre show. Six multi-instrumentalists tell an epic seaside tale through songs encompassing folk, indie, sea shanties and choral music. A story of bad rulers, worse weather, and how we keep going when everything is flipping terrible.
Two towns, one rich and one poor, stand separated by a narrow strip of ocean. When the borders close and ships stop sailing between them, two lovers are left stranded on either side. Unphased, Leander takes to swimming across the channel to meet Hero, guided by the light of the lighthouse where she lives. But the jealous and vengeful Hephaestus, carrying an ancient grudge, plots to separate them with a flood like neither town has ever seen.
We all know this will probably end badly. But just maybe, this time, it will turn out different…
Written by Jack Dean and composed by Jack Dean & Company.
Cello / Vocals / Percussion – Beatrice Newman
Violin / Vocals / Percussion – Yoon Ji Kim
Vocals / percussion – Siân Keen
Trumpet / Guitars / Vocals – Hanno Rigger
Guitars / Vocals / Percussion – Jack Dean
Accordion / Vocals / Percussion – Jay Kerry
“It is huge fun, accessible, varied, energetic and touching, telling an oft-told, ancient story with passion and honesty” The Fine Times Recorder
Incredibly innovative… Writer Jack Dean enthrals his audience” Reviews Hub
“Impressive poetic, musical and narrative skills… undoubtedly a performer with an exciting career ahead of him” Exeunt
Huge thanks to Living Spit and Theatre Shop – you never disappoint.