Right Hand Theatre celebrate blind 18th century Yorkshire scientist in No Horizon

Adam Martyn in rehearsal for his role as Nicholas Saunderson in No Horizon

RIGHT Hand Theatre’s No Horizon, a musical about a Yorkshire science and maths genius, is on the horizon at York Theatre Royal.

Staged at 7.30pm on April 9 and 2.30pm and 7.30pm on April 11 – there will be no performance on Good Friday – the show is inspired by the life 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”.

Now, the musical has been adapted for a 2020 northern tour by Right Hand Theatre, a company passionate about diversity and inclusivity within theatre. The cast has a 50/50 male/female balance, delivering the show in a gender-blind way with a female Isaac Newton, for example. Both the director and lead actor are visually impaired.

The role of Saunderson is played by the partially sighted Adam Martyn, from Doncaster, who trained at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA). The female lead role of Abigail goes to Yorkshire born-and-bred, Rose Bruford College-trained Larissa Teale.

The cast is completed by 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.

The musical will be staged with a fresh look by 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 is funded by Arts Council England and Foyle Foundation, co-commissioned by Cast, Doncaster and The Civic, Barnsley, and supported by Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind.

Tickets are on sale on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk; April 9’s performance will be audio described, a Q&A will follow that night’s show.