Pitmen Painters head colourful season as Derby Theatre unveils spring line-up
WORKS from the surreal imagination of Roald Dahl; the comic genius of John Godber and the insightful eye of Lee Hall have all contributed to create a varied and interesting presented programme at Derby Theatre for 2013.
Highlights of the season include The Pitmen Painters, which comes to Derby in June and is a humorous, deeply moving and timely look at art, class and politics.
Penned by Hall, the creator of Billy Elliot, this production has received huge critical acclaim and is a co-production developed by Live Theatre, Newcastle, and the National Theatre.
The show focuses on a group of Ashington miners in 1934 who hire a professor to teach an art appreciation evening class.
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Rapidly abandoning theory in favour of practice, the pitmen begin to paint, with outstanding and unexpected responses from the avant-garde world of artists and art collectors.
Sebastian Faulk's Birdsong also visits Derby in April, following on from a West End run. This mesmerising story of love, courage and sacrifice, will be performed by an all-star cast which features Sarah Jayne Dunn (Drop Dead Gorgeous and Hollyoaks); Charlie G Hawkins (Darren in Eastenders) Arthur Bostrum ('Allo 'Allo!) and Tim Van Eyken (War Horse).
John Godber's Losing The Plot takes centre stage from February 12-16. Always a popular writer with Derby theatre-goers, John's own company and Theatre Royal Wakefield present this brand-new comedy written and directed by Godber himself.
Jack Munroe walks out on his job, his wife and teenage children. Beside his bed is a copy of Hot Sex Tips and Which Caravan magazine.
After travelling around Europe to write his much-promised novel, he returns with no novel, no money and no idea why he left – did he lose the plot?
The season will be kicked off in January with one of Agatha Christie's top mysteries, A Murder is Announced.
The play features a notable cast which includes Katy Manning, Dean Gaffney and Gemma Bissix. The production offers an affectionate picture of a post-Second World War English village which becomes subject to intriguing plots, subterfuge and murder.
One Monkey Don't Stop No Show – described as "The Cosby Show meets Restoration Comedy" – continues the winter programme in February.
Presented by Eclipse Theatre Company, it is set in 1970s Philadelphia and follows the Harrisons who are the most respectable middle-class black family in the suburbs. A wonderfully outrageous play about how hard we try to hide who we really are.
In April, the programme takes a historical turn with the play Brother Cadfael: The Virgin in Ice.
Set in the winter of 1139, civil war has sent many refugees fleeing north from Worcester, among them an orphaned boy, his beautiful 17-year-old sister and a young nun.
The Birmingham Stage Company returns to Derby with Roald Dahl's James and The Giant Peach to the city in July.
Ideal for the young and young-at-heart, this surreal and quirky tale will take audiences on a fruit-filled wondrous adventure.
The company has already brought productions and co-productions of Horrible Histories, George's Marvellous Medicine to the city and, next month, will also bring Charlotte's Web.
Another slightly surreal drama will be staged in June with Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills.
A charming but profound play which captures Potter's expansive humanity, his wicked humour and his fierce intolerance of ordinary cruelty. It is a story of seven children, set in one wartime summer, whose hilarious games, complex friendships and moral dilemmas lead them headlong into sudden and unexpected tragedy.
Other highlights in the presented season include a performance of All Our Daughters by the New Vic Theatre and Borderlines in February.
Written by award-winning director Susan Moffatt, this eye-opening production aims to raise the issues surrounding forced marriages and so-called "honour" violence.
Derby Theatre and Déda present the National Dance Company of Wales with a triple bill of exhilarating dance, while on February 7, the legendary hell-raiser Oliver Reed will be brought vividly back to life in this solo show performed by Rob Crouch.
The Showstoppers is on February 9 – a musical comedy spontaneously created from scratch at each show from the audience's suggestions.