Look­ing ahead to an ex­cit­ing sea­son at West York­shire Play­house

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE - Nick Ahad

A NEW play from the writer of Glad­i­a­tor, a Christ­mas Carol in a new light and a 50th an­niver­sary pro­duc­tion of one of York­shire’s great plays fea­ture in the line-up of West York­shire Play­house’s new sea­son.

The au­tumn pro­gramme, an­nounced this week ahead of a per­for­mance of the Play­house’s fi­nal big show of the present sea­son, Hay Fever, will open in Septem­ber with a pro­duc­tion of Billy Liar.

The Keith Water­house and Wil­lis Hall play, based on Water­house’s orig­i­nal novel, is be­ing brought to the stage by Nick Bag­nall, who has pre­vi­ously acted on the stage of the Leeds the­atre, but makes his di­rec­to­rial de­but with the play.

Scar­bor­ough born and raised, Bag­nall says: “I have the most ex­quis­ite Billy Liar.

“I think there is a rhythm and mus­cu­lar­ity in the lan­guage which is es­sen­tially north­ern-ness, a sort of roots in your boots qual­ity to the writ­ing.

“It’s about the mun­dan­ity of life, and it’s a beau­ti­fully ten­der play that needs serv­ing cor­rectly.”

Bag­nall also said it was a priv­i­lege to get to di­rect such a fa­mous Leeds-rooted play, with both writ­ers hav­ing been born here, in its 50th an­niver­sary year in what is es­sen­tially the play’s home town.

Play­house artis­tic di­rec­tor Ian Brown will di­rect his ver­sion of Shake­speare’s As You Like It on the stage of the Quarry The­atre in Septem­ber. Brown said that the play is com­ing at an op­por­tune time. “ When it was writ­ten there was a lot of un­rest in the coun­try and there was much change go­ing on, which is why I think it is ap­pro­pri­ate for now,” says Brown.

“The come­dies are par­tic­u­larly life-en­hanc­ing and there’s some­thing that we need now. In some re­spects As You Like It is a very sunny play – you can ap­proach it in a very bleak way, but I think we all need to have some­thing to make us smile right now and I feel that this ap­proach is go­ing to give peo­ple a good time at the the­atre.”

Di­rec­tor Sarah Es­daile re­turns to the the­atre next sea­son, fol­low­ing her tri­umphant pro­duc­tion of Death of a Sales­man, which was widely praised.

She says: “It was won­der­ful the way peo­ple re­acted to it. I did feel quite a re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards the play, so to have the re­ac­tion we had was very grat­i­fy­ing.”

This com­ing sea­son Es­daile will be in charge of a world pre­miere, Crash, writ­ten by Wil­liam Ni­chol­son, the man who wrote Shad­ow­lands and Glad­i­a­tor. He has no qualms about the cut-throat na­ture of the busi­ness, say­ing when asked why he was premier­ing his new work at the Play­house: “They took it.” Ni­chol­son’s rep­u­ta­tion, it is sug­gested, could have se­cured him an open­ing of a new play at any the­atre in the land. Not so, he in­sists and any­way he is “de­lighted that the play will be open­ing here in Leeds”.

Other high­lights in­clude the re­turn of Skip­ton-born di­rec­tor Niko­lai Fos­ter with Bry­ony Lav­ery’s ver­sion of Christ­mas Carol and York’s Mike Kenny with his ver­sion of Aladdin.

For full sea­son de­tails call 0113 2137700 or log on to www.wyp.org.uk

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