THEATRE @41 Monkgate is selling personalised bricks to create a new display at York’s black-box studio theatre.
Sales of the inscribed slates will help to make up some of the revenue shortfall created by the Coronavirus pandemic. Theatre @41’s new chairman, Alan Park, hopes theatre participants and supporters alike will show their fundraising backing by digging deep.
“Anyone who has been to Theatre @41 knows what a special place it is,” he says. “We have obviously lost revenue while having to close and we need to make sure we can keep going. Every donation we receive helps us continue to provide an accessible and affordable theatre space to the York community.
“These bricks are a great way for anyone who uses our space, or has been to a show they love, to help us achieve this. They will be able to see their words and messages every time they visit and know they have played a part in the heritage of Theatre @41.”
To buy a brick for £40 or two for £70, visit: 41monkgate.co.uk/bricks. Alternatively, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
York band leader, tutor, composer, performer, producer and now video maker Sam says: “I put the video together, getting in touch with all the singers, after having put together four or five other videos with the Big Band. I thought it would be a good video to wrap them all up and to include such a large number of people together for the cause!
“I also noted that everyone in the video has benefited in some way from the Monkgate venue, whether it be through a performance or rehearsal.”
Explaining his choice of musical-theatre song, with its apposite Covid-era lyric of “Waiting for that one big chance to be in a show”, Sam says: “I went for Sondheim’s Broadway Baby song-wise as it’s from one of the shows I’ve enjoyed most working on at Monkgate when Pick Me Up Theatre staged Follies’ last year.
“It’s a good, brassy Broadway big-band number to mix the two ensembles together in the smoothest way possible!”
Welcoming the fundraising boost of Broadway Baby, Theatre @41 board secretary Jo Hird – whose “dressing up is better than my vocals” on the video – says: “With Theatre @41 closed, we’re trying to crack on with as much decorating and renovating as we can, so as not to disrupt shows when we’re allowed to reopen.
“One of the shows we had to postpone was Pick Me Up Theatre’s Sondheim 90: A Birthday Concert to celebrate the New York composer’s 90th birthday. How brilliant of Sam Johnson to put Broadway Baby together. It took a lot of coordinating.
“We’re really grateful to Sam for bringing this fundraiser to life because we need every penny we can get to repair our roof and keep our Monkgate building open.”
The cast taking part in the recording were: Susannah Baines; Emily Chattle; Emma-Louise Dickinson; Anna Hale; Iain Harvey; Sam Hird; Jo Hird; Darren Lumby; Sandy Nicholson; Adam Price; Emily Ramsden; Tracey Rea; Andrew Roberts; Rosy Rowley; Lauren Sheriston; Maggie Smales; Joanne Theaker; Dave Todd; Juliet Waters; Natalie Walker and Jennie Wogan.
Joining pianist, musical director and arranger Sam Johnson in the band were Katie Wood and Katie Maloney on alto sax; Richard Oakman and Stephen Donoghue on tenor sax; Nick Jones on baritone sax and a multitude of trumpet players, Connor McLean, Sam Rees, Charles Tomlinson, James Lolley, Daniel Dickson and Leo James Conroy.
So too did trombonists Anna Marshall, Lauren Ingham and Fliss Simpson; violinists Claire Jowett and Emily Jones, viola player Jess Douglas; cellist Lucy McLuckie; guitarist Tom Holmes; upright bassist Georgia Johnson and Andy Hayes on the drum kit.
Look out too for cameo appearances by a quartet of cats, Strummer, Misty, Paris and Bob.
THEATRE @41, Monkgate, York, is honouring the memory of Sandra Gilpin by re-naming its main rehearsal space after the late York philanthropist.
Room One will become The Gilpin Room in an homage to Sandra, whose life was dedicated to supporting and working with adults with learning or physical challenges.
Sandra, who died in April 2019, is remembered with great affection by Once Seen Theatre, a fully accessible theatre company, based at Theatre@41, that evolved from Sandra’s original project, York People First.
Carole and David Metcalf, who now run the company, praised Sandra as an inspirational woman who dedicated her whole career to supporting and working for others.
“We first met Sandra ten years ago and we have seen first hand what a wonderful person she was,” says Carole. “Sandra was passionate about making changes to the social system to make sure everyone was treated equally.
“All Once Seen members think about her with affection and we’re determined to keep going as a company in her memory. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we can get back into the theatre. We look forward to working in The Gilpin Room: a very special place named after a very special woman.”
This will be the third name for this rehearsal and performance space that started life as the Infants Room when the building was used as a Sunday school.
Once Seen is one of three “associate companies” housed at the Monkgate theatre, along with Nik Briggs’s York Stage School and Robert Readman’s Pick Me Up Theatre. They help Theatre@41 to further its charitable objectives in education and accessibility in the arts.
Comedian, actress and scriptwriter Rosie Jones, settling into her new role as a Theatre@41 patron, is a firm believer in the objectives that Sandra heralded. “My main passion in life is to make media, and the arts in general, a place that is both accessible and representative of our brilliantly diverse society,” says the disability in the arts campaigner, who has cerebral palsy.
“As a disabled person, I feel it’s imperative to make theatre a place which is inclusive of people with learning and physical disabilities. Theare@41 does just that.”
REVIEW: Tom’s Midnight Garden, Pick Me Up Theatre, John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, until Saturday. Box office: 01904 623568; at pickmeuptheatre.com or in person from York Gin, 12, Pavement, and York Theatre Royal box office
IT is grimly impossible not to see everything anew
in the context of the crippling Coronavirus.
Within moments of Tom’s Midnight Garden opening,
the word “quarantine” is mentioned, and audience members turn to each other – keeping
a certain distance, of course – in recognition of its heightened resonance.
Adapted for the stage by David Wood, the doyen of
such transitions from print to boards, Philippa Pearce’s beloved novel is a
testament to the power of imagination, perhaps the most precious gift of all in
childhood, but one that dims through experience as we age.
Right now, we might all wish that the clock could
strike 13 and take us to somewhere magical, as it does in Tom’s Midnight
Garden, although George Orwell’s opening line to 1984, where the clocks en
masse were doing exactly that, is contrastingly heavy with sinister
Pick Me Up director-designer Robert Readman sets up
the black-box John Cooper Studio in a traverse configuration, the audience to
either side of a stage book-ended by a door and lonely Tom’s bedroom away from
home at one end and a door and bored brother Peter’s bedroom back home at the
other, where he is quarantined with measles.
The setting is the dull 1950s, when Tom (a role
shared by Pick Me Up debutant Jimmy Dalgleish, in action on press night, and
Jack Hambleton) is staying with his kindly Aunt Gwen (Maggie Smales) and
pipe-smoking, Daily Mail-reading Uncle Alan (Andrew Isherwood).
At Tom’s end too is the aforementioned grandfather clock,
with its figure of an angel and an inscription, Time No Longer, taken from the
Book of Revelation, Chapter 10, Verse 6, and still today the subject of much
conjecture as to its possible meaning.
Even within Tom’s Midnight Garden, it draws a
scoffing comment, but if instead it can been seen as advocating that the
limitations, the boundaries, of time be removed, rather than as the end of
time, then it becomes the doorway to limitless imagination.
On the John Cooper Studio’s mezzanine level are not
only the bedrooms but also passageways to either side (not ideal, alas, as
anyone moving above you on your side is out of sight, and Readman might need to
re-block those moments to facilitate seeing them better).
Musical director Tim Selman, meanwhile, is
positioned in clear view at his piano beside Atkin’s Peter. Behind him are
cellist Lucy McLuckie and violinist Robert Bates, and together they perform a second
string to Atkin’s bow: his newly composed score that accompanies scenes played
out in the midnight garden of the title.
Occasionally on first night, the beautiful music impacted
on the clarity of the dialogue but the sound balance can be remedied.
A chorus gathers, chiming the mantra “Time no longer”,
as if bringing the clock to speaking life. Each day, that clock is wound up fastidiously
by the mysterious Mrs Bartholomew (Beryl Nairn), so stern of face she unnerves Tom’s
aunt and uncle.
When it strikes 11, 12, 13, pyjama-clad,
inquisitive Tom leaves his bed, makes his way downstairs, across the hall and
out of the door into a magical garden, initially depicted as a bright light. A
garden that only he can enter. A Victorian garden, where he encounters Victorian
orphan Hattie (Olivia Caley), the joyless Aunt Grace (Beryl Nairn, part two),
Bible-reading gardener Abel (Isherwood, part two) and assorted playful Victorian
The garden scenes are played out on the empty
expanse between the two doors. No flowers, no secret passageways, everything
left to our imagination, save for chairs and gathered, elasticated black and
white ribbon strands at all four corners through which cast members pass, not exactly
with the greatest of ease.
Decide for yourself what they symbolise; maybe the
erosion of time; maybe the imagination at work; maybe time travel; maybe they just
look aesthetically pretty, matching the black and white of Readman’s overall design.
Here, across the time divide, Tom and Hattie can see each other when others cannot see him, and time passes at a different rate for each of them. This is a place of mystery and magic, but something darker if Abel’s biblical bent is to be believed, as if Tom were as meddlesome as Shakespeare’s Puck or J M Barrie’s Peter Pan.
Although imaginative, neither Readman’s direction,
nor design, are as magical as his best work. Wood’s script, however, captures fully
Pearce’s possibilities of make-believe, drawing you deep into Tom and Hattie’s
world, where sweetness and sadness elide, brought to life so evocatively by the
outstanding Caley, Dalgleish, Atkin, Smales and Nairn and Isherwood at the
PICK Me Up Theatre will celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday in a night of song on March 22, the very day the New York composer and lyricist enters his tenth decade.
the York company has produced four of his musicals, Into The Woods, Assassins,
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street and Follies.
the evening of the great man’s 90th, we’ll be presenting an evening
of his finest music in his honour with a cast of 21, performing under musical
director Tim Selman on piano,” says artistic director Robert Readman, who will
be among those 21 voices at the John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York.
“This will be one performance only of songs from every show, movie and TV special Sondheim has written the words and music to, from 1955 through to 2013.”
Group numbers will include Children Will Listen; Our Time; Not Getting Married Today; Bring Me My Bride and Sunday, alongside music from A Little Night Music; Dick Tracey; Sweeney Todd; Company; Roadshow; Follies; Into The Woods, Anyone Can Whistle and Sunday In The Park With George.
Performing with Readman at 7.30pm will be Andrew Isherwood; Alan Park; Jennie Wogan; Darren Lumby; Emma Louise Dickinson; David Radford; Susannah Baines; Andrew Roberts; Ed Atkin; Frankie Bounds; Natalie Walker; Adam Price; Mark Hird; Sam Hird; Catherine Foster; Alex Mather; Maya Tether; Flo Poskitt; Juliet Waters and Ryan Smith.
Tickets for Sondheim 90, A Birthday Concert, cost £15,
concessions £13, on 01904 523568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or pickmeuptheatre.com
or in person from York Gin, in Pavement, or the York Theatre Royal box office.
The full programme for Sondheim 90, A Birthday Concert:
INTRODUCTION – The Frogs – ANDREW ISHERWOOD & ALAN PARK
THE TWO OF YOU – Kukla, Fran & Ollie – JENNIE WOGAN
TAKE ME TO THE WORLD – Evening Primrose – DARREN LUMBY & EMMA
THEY ASK ME WHY I BELIEVE IN YOU – I Believe In You – DAVID RADFORD
EVERYBODY SAYS DON’T – Anyone Can Whistle – SUSANNAH BAINES
SATURDAY NIGHT – Saturday Night – ANDREW ROBERTS, ED ATKIN,
FRANKIE BOUNDS, ANDREW ISHERWOOD & COMPANY
SO MANY PEOPLE – Saturday Night – NATALIE WALKER & ADAM PRICE
THE BEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED – Road Show – SAM HIRD & ADAM
LOVE I HEAR – A Funny Thing Happened On To The Way To The Forum –
BRING ME MY BRIDE – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
– MARK HIRD
RAIN ON THE ROOF – Follies – ANDREW ROBERTS & CATHERINE FOSTER
YOU COULD DRIVE A PERSON CRAZY – Company – ALEX MATHER, EMMA
LOUISE DICKINSON & MAYA TETHER
GETTING MARRIED TODAY – Company – FLO POSKITT
AGONY – Into The Woods – DARREN LUMBY & SAM HIRD
MOVE ON – Sunday In The Park With George – EMMA LOUISE DICKINSON
& ADAM PRICE
THE LADIES WHO LUNCH – Company – JULIET WATERS
GOODBYE FOR NOW – Reds – DARREN LUMBY
LIVE ALONE AND LIKE IT – Dick Tracy – DAVID RADFORD
MORE – Dick Tracy – MAYA TETHER
NOT A DAY GOES BY – Merrily We Roll Along – ALEX MATHER
FEAR NO MORE – The Frogs – SAM HIRD
CHILDREN WILL LISTEN – Into The Woods – SUSANNAH BAINES &
OUR TIME – Merrily We Roll Along – FULL COMPANY
PRETTY LADY – Paciﬁc Overtures – DAVID RADFORD, ED ATKIN &
KISS ME/LADIES IN THEIR SENSITIVITIES – Sweeney Todd – ALEX
MATHER, SAM HIRD, MARK HIRD & RYAN SMITH
JOHANNA – Sweeney Todd – ED ATKIN
NOT WHILE I’M AROUND – Sweeney Todd – JENNIE WOGAN
A LITTLE PRIEST – Sweeney Todd – RYAN SMITH & SUSANNAH BAINES
GIANTS IN THE SKY – Into The Woods – FRANKIE BOUNDS
THE MILLER’S SONG – A Little Night Music – EMMA LOUISE DICKINSON
BROADWAY BABY – Follies – FLO POSKITT
LOVE WILL SEE US THROUGH/YOU’RE GONNA LOVE TOMORROW – Follies –
SAM HIRD, ADAM PRICE, EMMA LOUISE DICKINSON & NATALIE WALKER
THE BALLAD OF GUITEAU – Assassins – SAM HIRD & MARK HIRD
FRANKLIN SHEPARD INC. – Merrily We Roll Along – ALAN PARK
EVERYBODY OUGHT TO HAVE A MAID – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way
To The Forum – SAM HIRD, MARK HIRD, ROBERT READMAN & ANDREW ROBERTS
ANYONE CAN WHISTLE – Anyone Can Whistle – ALEX MATHER
NO ONE HAS EVER LOVED ME – Passion – ADAM PRICE
LOVING YOU – Passion – SUSANNAH BAINES
UNWORTHY OF YOUR LOVE – Assassins – ALAN PARK & CATHERINE
LOSING MY MIND – Follies – MAYA TETHER
WHAT CAN YOU LOSE – Dick Tracy – DARREN LUMBY
BEING ALIVE – Company – DAVID RADFORD
SEND IN THE CLOWNS – A Little Night Music – JULIET WATERS
BIRTHDAY CAKE SCENE – Company
SUNDAY – Sunday In The Park With George – FULL COMPANY.
SPRING is on its way, gardens are perking up, good timing for Pick Me Up
Theatre to stage Tom’s Midnight Garden from tomorrow at Theatre @41
Who better to direct David Wood’s adaptation of Philippa Pearce’s beloved book than the York company’s artistic director Robert Readman, a garden and gardening enthusiast, as a visit to his Bubwith abode would affirm.
In Pearce’s 1950s’ story, Tom is sent away sent to stay with his Aunt
Gwen and Uncle Alan in their upstairs flat in a big Victorian house after his
brother Peter catches the measles and is now quarantined.
Lonely and bored, Tom has little to do until one night he hears the
hallway grandfather clock strike 13. Creeping downstairs to investigate, he
throws open the back door to…no longer a small yard but a large and beautiful
Something strange is happening: every time the clock strikes 13, Tom is
transported back in time to the secret garden. There he befriends an unhappy
Victorian orphan, Hatty, and a series of adventures ensues, but what is behind
the magical midnight garden?
“It’s such a magical story, all to do with time,” says Robert. “I love
how it jumps between a young boy’s dull life in the 1950s, and his adventures
with Hatty in the 1880s.”
“The lighting and sound will be vital to the transformation between the
two times; the characters dress according to the era they’re from, and there’ll
also be a lot of mime in the show, so it’ll be a mixture of the real and the
unreal, with the cast doing roles from the two eras.”
To convey the two
contrasting worlds with his black-box design, director-designer Readman has
constructed two platforms, one at either end, one for Peter’s bedroom, one for
Tom’s, with a doorway to each one and the hallway clock at Tom’s end.
“It’s nothing like Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden,
which was written in Victorian times, whereas Tom’s Midnight Garden is
a tale of children stuck in the drabness of the 1950s creating an exciting
world by travelling back to Victorian days, and that’s what we’re conveying in
both the design and the performances.”
Reading the book as a child and now re-reading it in preparation for the
Pick Me Up production, Robert says: “What struck me is that it’s all to do with
children’s imaginations. It’s a piece about how children can conjure up
adventures with make-believe.
“It’s a beautiful book that can be read by adults just as much as by
children; it treats children as being intelligent in their own right, and I
love how it takes you on a journey where there’s both sweetness and sadness, so
everything is doubled.”
Company regular Jack Hambleton and Pick Me Up newcomer Jimmy Dalgleish
will share the role of Tom; Olivia Caley will play Hatty, and Ed Atkin, Peter.
“At the beginning, it’s quite hard to like Tom because he complains
quite a lot and seems ungrateful, but then you can see that he was just feeling
lonely and was missing his brother,” says Jack.
“His friendship with Hatty shows how caring and thoughtful he is, and he
also shows his curiosity and intelligence when approaching the puzzle of how
his time travel is possible.”
Jimmy, similar in stature to Jack but differing in his interpretation of
the role according to Readman, says: “Stuck inside at his aunt and uncle’s
house, Tom is lonely and ‘longs for someone to play with’.
“Tom is very playful and somewhat cheeky! He’s intelligent, adventurous
and loyal to his new friend Hatty. He’s very inquisitive and a logical thinker
as he tries to work out that he’s somehow able to go back in time!”
Summing up Victorian Hatty’s character, Olivia says: “She’s a curious
and playful young girl with a great imagination, despite her sad upbringing.
All Hatty wants to do is have adventures and not grow up!”
Ed plays not only Peter, but Hubert and “Voice” too. “But I spend most
of my time as Peter, who’s got measles, so he has to spend all his time in bed.
The letters written by Tom are his only entertainment, which means he’s
fascinated by the stories that are sent to him.”
Given that time travel is so central to Tom’s Midnight Garden, if they
each could go back in time to one era to live in, what would it be and
why? “Probably Ancient Egypt as I’m fascinated by how they lived and how much
they achieved,” says Jack. “I would love to know how they really built the
pyramids and how much influence the gods had on their lives.”
“The Tudor era because I would love to live among the people of the
court of Henry VIII and experience the grandeur the scandal and politics
of his life,” reckons Jimmy.
“I actually experienced what it was like to be a young girl in the
Regency era in a short film called Mr Malcolm’s List,” reveals Olivia. “So, I’d
probably want to travel back to that era. The dresses were beautiful, and I
loved getting to wear them! Not so much the corsets!”
Ed picks the 1960s. “This was such an exciting time in the development
of the music industry,” he reasons. “I just think it would have been so
fascinating to learn about music at a time when it was constantly changing and
While on the subject of music, Ed has written a beautiful score for
violin, cello and piano for musical director Tim Selman’s forces. “It
definitely draws on the theme of ‘time no longer’,” he says.
“I took inspiration from the likes of Vaughan Williams and Benjamin
Britten, who wrote music that was modern at the time but also harked back to
the Victorian Romantic styles.
“Additionally, I tried to incorporate the idea of childhood and
playfulness into what I wrote, so lots of the music is fun and slightly quirky.
However, it’s all shrouded in a sense of mystery.”
Not only director
Readman has a love of gardens, so do his cast principals. “Some gardens are very magical,”
says Jack. “I particularly like gardens with hidden corners and
an air of mystery, such as Castle Howard and Beningbrough Hall.”
Jimmy concurs: “A garden is
a place where anything can happen,” he says. “A garden inspires imagination and
can subsequently transport you to a whole new world of your own creation
away from the stresses and strains of ordinary life, and that in itself is
Olivia enthuses: “I absolutely think gardens are magical!
There’s so much scope for the imagination. When I was little, I was always
playing in my garden, so I can really relate to Hatty on that.”
Gardens can be magical, especially for a child, suggests Ed. “There’s a
moment in the play where Tom and Hatty go through a ‘secret passage’. This
feeling of exploring a new world is one I remember well from playing in such a garden when
I was younger,” he says.
Let the clock strike 13. A garden awaits.
Pick Me Up Theatre in Tom’s Midnight Garden, John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, tomorrow (March 13) until March 21. Box office: 01904 623568; at pickmeuptheatre.com or in person from York Gin, 12, Pavement, and the York Theatre Royal box office.
REVIEW: The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, Pick Me Up Theatre, John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, dropping jaws until Saturday, 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at pickmeuptheatre.com.
WELL, you won’t see a play like this every day, but I dare you still
to see it in Pick Me Up Theatre’s northern UK premiere.
Playwright Edward Albee, born in Virginia, but long associated
with New York after moving to Greenwich Village at 18, is best known for Who’s
Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. The 1962 one, turned into a 1966 Mike Nichols film with
the almighty verbal scrap between Elizabeth Taylor’s Martha and Richard Burton’s
Albee wrote another play with a question mark in its title in
2002: The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? The American agent provocateur of theatre of
the absurd could pour 50 years of the even more absurd into it, but essentially
it is a further study of the marital complexities of a middle-aged
couple, in this case Martin and Stevie Gray.
Except that Albee’s Broadway premiere came with
a plea from the writer: “Imagine what you can’t imagine… imagine being in love
with something you can’t conceive of. The play is about love, loss, the limits
of our tolerance and who, indeed, we really are.”
And there was more: “All I ask of an audience
is that they leave their prejudices in the cloakroom and view the play objectively
and later – at home – imagine themselves as being in the predicament the play
examines and coming up with useful, if not necessarily comfortable, responses.”
Who could sense at the start what lies in store, how famous New York architect Martin Gray’s world would soon turn to rubble as the American Dream crumbles? Played by suave American actor Bryan Bounds, who recommended the play to director Mark Hird, Gray has just turned 50, won his latest prize and been given the ultimate commission to design the World City on Kansas’s wheat fields.
Hair immaculate, life immaculate, house
immaculate in its monochrome trendiness (in Robert Readman’s design), he says
he could not be more happily in love with wife Stevie (Susannah Baines). Son
Billy (Will Fealy) is blossoming at 17, brightly questing and gay (like Albee,
who knew it at 12 and a half).
Yet Martin seems distracted, playing at forgetfulness
in banter with Stevie, and what’s that smell, she asks. When he is even more
distracted while talking with best friend Ross (Mick Liversidge), fouling up a
TV interview recording, the truth will out. Martin has fallen in love with Sylvia,
a goat (hence the smell), and the feeling is mutual, and yes, without being
graphic, the relationship is full on.
Greek tragedies dive deep into the extremes of
the human condition, as do plenty of Shakespeare’s plays, and, especially,
Jacobean tragedies. The Goat puts the ‘eek’ into a modern Greek tragedy,
although it is more of a tragicomedy. Yes, you read that right. There is a liquorice-dark
humour to Albee’s brilliantly written confessions and confrontations, as well
as moments that are excruciatingly uncomfortable, as The Goat turns from domestic
situation comedy to Domestos-powerful situation tragedy.
What’s more, Hird’s thrust-stage setting, with
the audience so close up on three sides, adds to that discomfort, and not because
Baines’s Stevie starts smashing all the living-room pottery (courtesy of Fangfoss
Pottery’s Gerry Grant). No, it is the fierce heat, the candour, of what is
being said. Hird’s cast avoids histrionics; instead the rise and fall and rise
again of anger, hurt, confusion, love, is far more skilfully played by one and
all, pulling the audience this way and that.
Bounds urged Hird to cast Baines, and he was spot-on:
his Martin is infuriatingly phlegmatic, unflustered; her Stevie is an ever-tightening
coil in response, whose actions will speak louder than his words.
Son Billy is caught in the middle, and Will
Fealy, such a burgeoning talent that he has just been offered an unconditional
place at Arts.Ed in London, conveys all the confusions of illusions being shattered,
certainties derailed, while dealing with his own sexual awakening.
Mick Liversidge’s bewildered, shocked Ross sort
of represents the audience in his reactions, or does he, because the moral
ambiguities are complex, and as Albee once said, “if you think this play
is about bestiality, you’re either an idiot or a Republican”. Trump that!
Albee also said: “Never leave the audience the same way you found them”, and 90 unbroken minutes of The Goat – apart from the smashed bowls and vases – will leave you pondering relationships, family, love. As for goats, I’ll stick to loving goats’ cheese.
note: this play contains adult themes and strong language; suggested minimum
age of 15.
IT sounds potty,
but Fangfoss potter Gerry Grant is making pots expressly to be broken.
“I’ve just landed
my most unusual job yet,” he says. “I’ve been commissioned by York company Pick
Me Up Theatre to make some props for next week’s production of The Goat, or Who
“What’s so unusual
about this request is that they’ve asked me to make a selection of very
large pots that will be smashed to pieces on the stage.”
Presented by Pick Me
Up at the John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, from February 25 to
29, Edward Albee’s American play centres around Martin Gray, a successful,
middle-aged architect who has just turned 50 and leads an ostensibly ideal life
with his loving wife, Stevie, and gay teenage son, Billy.
However, when he
confides to his best friend that he also is in love with a goat named Sylvia, he
sets in motion events that will destroy his family and leave his life in
Albee’s domestic drama ponders the limits of an ostensibly
liberal society, showing a family in crisis to challenge audience members to question
their own moral judgment of social taboos.
Director Mark Hird says: “The pottery plates, vases and bowls are an
integral part of the show. They represent wealth, prosperity and order in a
seemingly perfect household.
“They are expensive works of art collected by world-famous architect
Martin Gray to furnish the living room of the family’s New York home – and
they’re smashed when Stevie confronts Martin after discovering his affair with
Sylvia, the goat.”
Gerry has run Fangfoss Pottery for 43 years with wife Lyn Grant at The
Old School, Fangfoss, near York, and never before has he received such a destructive
“I’ve tried for more than 40 years to produce pots that are sturdy and
not easily broken. Now I’ve been asked to do the opposite! The pots have been
specially made and fired to break easily. I do hope they perform the task well.”
The Goat caused controversy but was a big hit – much like the pottery
breaking – with Broadway audiences when it opened in 2002. So much so, it won
the Tony Award for best play, 40 years after writer Albee won the same prize
for Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf.
Next week marks its York premiere, when Gerry will witness his pots
being broken on the 41 Monkgate stage. “I’m looking forward to seeing the play,”
he says. “I’m sure it will be a smashing production”.
Tickets for the 7.30pm performances are on sale at pickmeuptheatre.com and on 01904 623568.