Deep Blue Sea

The Deep Blue Sea

Terence Rattigan | Sutton Arts Theatre | Directed by Faye Hatch

There’s nothing dated about the latest production of this emotionally complex masterpiece at Sutton Arts Theatre, directed by Faye Hatch. The cast, led by Jayne Lunn’s sympathetic Hester, rise to the considerable challenge of avoiding melodrama to deliver a night of raw, thrilling and ultimately uplifting theatre.The D

The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde | Quarndon Village Hall | Directed by Leni Robson

Quarndon Amateur Dramatic Society bring Oscar Wilde’s ‘trivial comedy for serious people’ to life in farcical style.

Made in Dagenham

Made in Dagenham

Richard Bean | The Little Theatre | Directed by Joshua J Knott

Despite tackling serious themes of sexual discrimination, power and politics this is a sweet-natured story delivered with plenty of heart. A highly recommended production. Picket for a ticket.

Looking For Me Friend

Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood

Paulus | The Old Joint Stock Theatre | Directed by Sarah-Louise Young

‘Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood’, written and performed by Paulus (cabaret star Paul Martin) and directed by Sarah-Louise Young, is a joyful and celebratory show which is a fitting tribute to the late, great Victoria in all her northern glory.

The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds

Isley Lynn | Warwick Arts Centre | Directed by Hamish MacDougall & Julian Spooner

Rhum and Clay Theatre Company’s ‘The War of the Worlds’ is a brilliantly executed examination of the nature of truth and the storytelling drive which has underpinned our attempts to understand the world around us for centuries.

The Wicked Lady

The Wicked Lady

James Williams | The Blue Orange Theatre | Directed by James Williams

The Wicked Lady, Birmingham’s own Woman in Black, opens in spine-chilling style at the Blue Orange Theatre.

Howerd's End

Howerd’s End

Mark Farrelly | The Old Joint Stock Theatre | Directed by Joe Harmston

New play about the pained life of much-loved comedian Frankie Howerd is a moving, funny and poetic hit.

An Ideal Husband

An Ideal Husband

Oscar Wilde | Sutton Arts Theatre | Directed by Dexter Whitehead

Sutton Arts Theatre return with Wilde society comedy ‘An Ideal Husband’ in a production worth waiting for.

East is East

East is East

Ayub Khan Din | Birmingham Rep | Directed by Iqbal Khan

25th anniversary production of East is East at the Birmingham Rep is a triumph: uncomfortably funny, depressingly timely and beautifully performed.

Mademoiselle F

Mademoiselle F

Vanessa Oakes | Shop Front Theatre | Directed by Mark Evans

OCD is centre stage in a new play which delivers an emotionally powerful and moving insight into living with this most debilitating condition. It is the perfect post-pandemic piece to reopen this intimate gem of a space in a Coventry shopping centre.

Absurd Person Singular

Absurd Person Singular

Alan Ayckbourn | Sutton Arts Theatre | Directed by Barrie Atchison

First performed in 1972, this black comedy from the prolific Alan Ayckbourn (84 full length plays and counting) time travels across three years to chart the changing lives and fortunes of three married couples over three successive Christmas Eve parties. The playwright’s own insistence that this early 1970s period piece should include a note in the programme stating the era of the play to put it into context is telling: it is certainly of its time and although dated in many respects, still delivers laughs and was much enjoyed by the opening night audience.

Dahl

Roald Dahl’s School of Adventure

Emilie Cullum-Kenyon | Park Hall Academy Theatre | Directed by Emily Cullum-Kenyon

School productions are a hit-and-miss affair. They can be tedious at best and plain awful at worst as much-loved but talentless children forget their lines and struggle to remember where they should be standing on stage. Thankfully there is no shortage of talent in the latest theatrical offering from Park Hall Academy. ‘Roald Dahl’s School of Adventure’, a new musical written and directed by Head of Performing Arts Emilie Cullum-Kenyon, is a gloriumptious hit.

WizardofOz

The Wizard of Oz

L Frank Baum | Sutton Arts Theatre | Directed by Emily Armstrong and Dexter Whitehead

Sutton Coldfield may be a long way from Kansas but this year’s heart-warming and brilliantly performed Christmas production of The Wizard of Oz at Sutton Arts Theatre proves there really is no place like home.

Tinderella

Tinder-Ella

Paul Hutton | Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham | Directed by James Williams

As the title of this filthily raucous adult panto suggests, this is Cinderella as you’ve never seen her before. Out with pumpkins and glass slippers; in with dildos and dating apps. Not so much ‘will she go to the ball?’ as ‘will she swipe left, or right?’

Richard II

Richard II

William Shakespeare | Shakespeare House, Derby | Directed by Matt Swan

The plot of Richard II is, at one level, very simple: it’s a play in which one king is deposed and another takes his place. Succession was an Elizabethan obsession and many of Shakespeare’s plays, historical and tragic, examine political, moral, social and psychological aspects of the transition of monarchical power. After James I was crowned in 1603, interest in plays on this theme disappeared almost immediately.

Inside Out

Inside Out

Clare Snape | Quarndon Village Hall | Directed by Clare Snape

‘Inside Out’, which premiered at Quarndon Village Hall from 28th to 30th November, is a series of three linked plays exploring personal stories related to imprisonment. Billed as ‘tales of life, death, love, redemption and forgiveness’, they present an emotionally charged and thoughtful insight into some of the complexities which lie behind every individual’s journey to prison.

Chicago Ashby School

Chicago

John Kander and Fred Ebb | Ashby School Theatre | Directed by Ali Jackson

Students at Ashby School deliver a knockout performance of Chicago, rising impressively to the challenge of staging this much-loved musical about celebrity and women getting away with murder. A strong central cast, ably supported by a large and talented ensemble, bring great energy to the stage in this criminally good production of the high school edition of the show, directed by Ali Jackson.

Streetcar Crescent

A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams | Crescent Theatre | Directed by James David Knapp

The Crescent Theatre’s latest studio production – ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ – powerfully explores the battle between fantasy and reality which sits at the heart of this landmark American play. Director James David Knapp notes that the play presents audiences with a melting pot of questions and an ‘exploration of life at its most painful and raw.’ He has assembled an impressive cast who successfully transport us to Elysian Fields, the run-down French Quarter district in New Orleans in which the play is set.

sleuth

Sleuth

Anthony Shaffer | Sutton Arts Theatre | Directed by Claire Armstrong-Mills

The setting for Sutton Arts Theatre’s latest winning play – a ‘cosy English country house’ – is far from the snugly warm and comfortable place such a description suggests. Expect twists and turns,mystery, comedy and tension in this clever detective yarn which leaves the audience guessing right up to the final curtain.

Shakers Re-Stirred

Shakers Re-Stirred

John Godber and Jane Thornton | Duchess Theatre | Directed by Neil Scott

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Derby Shakespeare Theatre Company’s latest production, currently playing at the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton, is some sort of crazy reimagining of a great bard tragedy. Othello on a cruise ship, perhaps, or Macbeth on a beach. Hamlet in a local pub. An inner-city classroom King Lear. Romeo and Juliet on an all-inclusive package holiday in Benidorm.

Shakers Re-Stirred is, in fact, just about as far from Shakespeare as you could get. The play, written by John Godber and Jane Thornton and set in the 1980s, is an hilarious insight into both the working and private lives of four waitresses in a cocktail bar called, you guessed it, ‘Shakers’. In this hugely successful production, director Neil Scott breathes new life into the trendy drinking hole in which the action mainly takes place. It’s a roller-coaster ride of a play, full of the highs and lows which characterise all of our lives.