No Horizon looks for a new horizon after tour postponed in Coronavirus shutdown

Adam Martyn: partially sighted actor playing the blind scientist Nicholas Saunderson in No Horizon, pictured in rehearsal

RIGHT Hand Theatre’s No Horizon, a musical celebrating a blind Yorkshire science and maths genius, is no longer on the horizon at York Theatre Royal. Exit stage left the April 9 and 11 performances under the Coronavirus shutdown.

However, the No Horizon team say: “Sadly, though we will be pausing our adventure for now, our No Horizon journey is far from over. When we are back – and we truly mean when, not if – we will be bigger and better than ever.

“This has been an amazing rehearsal process and although this [situation] is a hurdle, we will overcome this. Here’s to the future of the show and we are sure that the best is yet to come.”

No Horizon’s 2020 tour was to have opened at The Civic, Barnsley, on March 20. Now, the progress towards a new horizon can be followed at and on social media.

The musical tells the life story of Nicholas Saunderson, a blind scientist and mathematician from Thurlstone, West Riding, who overcame impossible odds to become a Cambridge professor and friend of royalty.

Often described as an 18th century Stephen Hawking, Saunderson was born on January 20 1682, losing his sight through smallpox when around a year old. This did not prevent him, however, from acquiring a knowledge of Latin and Greek and studying mathematics.

As a child, he learnt to read by tracing the engravings on tombstones around St John the Baptist Church in Penistone, near Barnsley, with his fingers.

No Horizon premiered at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, going on to draw an enthusiastic response from BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans, who called it a “Yorkshire Les Mis”.

Next month’s York Theatre Royal shows would have been part of a now stalled northern tour of a 2020 adaptation “with a fresh look” by Right Hand Theatre, a company passionate about diversity and inclusivity within theatre.

Consequently, the 2020 cast has a 50/50 male/female balance, with the credo of delivering the show in a gender-blind way with a female Isaac Newton, for example. Both the director and lead actor are visually impaired.

Leading the company in rehearsals, in the role of Saunderson, has been the partially sighted Adam Martyn, from Doncaster, who trained at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA).

Alongside him have been Yorkshire born-and-bred, Rose Bruford College-trained Larissa Teale in the female lead role of Abigail; Tom Vercnocke as Joshua Dunn; Louise Willoughby as Anne Saunderson; Matthew Bugg as John Saunderson; Ruarí Kelsey as Reverend Fox; Katie Donoghue and Olivia Smith as Company.

In the production team are director Andrew Loretto; vocal coach Sally Egan; movement directors Lucy Cullingford and Maria Clarke; costume designer Lydia Denno; costume maker Sophie Roberts; lighting designer David Phillips and tour musical director David Osmond.

No Horizon’s 2020 northern tour has been co-commissioned by Cast, Doncaster and The Civic, Barnsley and supported by Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind, with funding from Arts Council England and Foyle Foundation.

York Theatre Royal box office will contact ticket holders for refunds.