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Young Frankenstein: do we all make our own monsters?

The gender roles in Young Frankenstein raise huge questions around our own collusion as audiences and Mel Brooks’ musical comedy starring Ross Noble, Hadley Fraser, Summer Strallen and Lesley Joseph is ruffling feathers.


The background is that, in Natasha Tripney’s two-star review for The Stage she makes her case very pertinently about how certain attitudes towards women feed in to a culture that is damaging to women. “You could argue that I’m taking things too seriously, that this show is basically benign and just out to make its audience laugh, but this stuff matters. It adds up. It contributes to a culture in which men in positions of power, movie producers say, can treat women like they exist solely for their titillation and amusement. It’s damaging – and it’s just not funny anymore.

Similarly, Alice Saville wrote a piece for Exeunt (Let’s not forget that Tripney co-founded Exeunt) examining mass culture and sexism within the industry, but misses a trick of weighing the best of the present against the worst of the past. Saville too seems to think that the Guardian’s Chief Theatre critic is conspiring against women: “If the most common way to deal with women who call out sexism and harassment is silence, a close second is this time-honoured strategy of casting people who object to rape jokes and sexism as humourless. Michael Billington’s Guardian review seems to do so, too, albeit in a weird coded way – “This may not be a show for sensitive souls whose idea of a jolly evening is sitting at home reading Walter Pater. For the rest of us, who cherish popular theatre’s roots in laughter and song, it offers two-and-a-half hours of time-suspending pleasure.”

Good grief.

This recurring debate speaks volumes – and prompts this writer’s irony-meter to explode – especially when Young Frankenstein is a musical from a lost vaudevillian universe where the women were leggy and offence was given (and taken) in the spirit it was intended. This all happened in a time pre ‘Trial By Social Media.’


Can the imagery of gender stereotypes, now so deeply carved on our brains, prevent us from looking beyond the roles assigned to us? I found the elements in question to be a subversive use of entertainment as a means of consciousness-raising. This show is portraying a period, with humour and accuracy.

I felt uncomfortable at times. But isn’t that the point?

Post-Weinstein, I was hyper-aware about my own gaze at the females on stage; but the performances in question here are very funny and subtly ridiculing that.

Even when Hadley Fraser lecherously embraces his fiancé and she pushes his tongue back into his mouth, singing ‘Please Don’t Touch Me’ – I couldn’t but applaud what in other hands might seem tasteless. It could be argued that the show is an inappropriate artefact and should be *at the very least* seriously reconstructed or consigned to the archives. Or, how about not watching it?

Amid the frenzy, we should also pause to remember the Mel Brooks’ heyday as a filmmaker was in the 1960s and 1970s, when sociopath Richard Nixon was in office. Brooks is one of the greatest comedians of the twentieth century whose work is slapstick, irreverent and certainly not polemic.

It’s true that some genres, such as comedy, have thrived on dementedly sexualised and explicitly demeaning imagery of leggy women and ‘funny-sexy’ for decades, but this old-fashioned approach should not represent a line being crossed. I think it’s slightly naïve to beat up the past with the stick of the present.

We know now that sex and sexuality is always going to be part of theatre, and always should be.

But that’s not to say it’s all plain sailing…

After the show I asked ten humans, who identified as female, whether they found anything in Young Frankenstein to be a) offensive or b) misogynistic. Interestingly, they all said no. One woman told me: “I am actually pretty sick and tired of all this right-on idiocy. I have three daughters and I have raised them as independent women. We have loved every minute of it.”

Another woman that I was sat next to told me: “I didn’t want a female Doctor Who – but here we are. I don’t need approval from anybody to enjoy the theatre, I don’t read reviews because the writers often bring their own agenda.”

Nevertheless, just because the ten women did not have a problem with the content of the musical as a misogyny-fest does not mean that no female humans will have a problem with the representation of women on stage.

If a lost British musical was unearthed tomorrow featuring a cartoon monster raping a woman in a cave as a term of abuse, would Cameron Mackintosh commission it, or would he censor it? He’d censor it.

Perhaps there should have been a 2017 sensibility to Young Frankenstein, in much the same way that racist elements are removed from repeats of 1970’s sitcoms on daytime TV. Arguments that “they’ve been playing it uncensored for decades” are irrelevant: society moves on, which is why slavery is a crime, marriage is equal, homosexuality is not a crime and why women are allowed to vote.

Obviously, the history of patriarchy is extensive and entrenched. So, do we remake these stories and tell them differently if we are going to change our own culture and its attitudes towards women? Progress on justice for women is slow, but it’s happening. Young Frankenstein has been directed with aplomb by Broadway’s finest director-choreographer, Susan Stroman. What’s that? A female director, in the West End.

Whether it is cynical, misogynistic, artistic, all three or none, perhaps this will prove a cultural blip, a peculiar aberration like the huge success of the Take That musical: The Band that theatre fans in the future will look back on as nothing more than a snapshot of pop culture in 2017.

But it is hard not to feel that in 2077, people are more likely to look back on the fuss around Young Frankenstein in the way we now regard the reaction, 50 years ago, to the uproar of ‘Springtime for Hitler’ featuring goose-stepping chorus girls and choreographed swastikas: as rather quaint.

I salute Young Frankenstein for sticking a bonfire under good taste and scorching political correctness. Theatre is full of surprises. All we can do, as audiences, is say it how we see it and respond accordingly because there’s nothing more miserable than silence.

We all make our own monsters and I don’t think that anybody associated with Young Frankenstein is one.

Anyway, there is something rotten in the world if you need approval to laugh at a Mel Brooks musical.

Go and see it for yourself.

N.B. I am, though, still upset that there wasn’t a gay bar in Transylvania.

Young Frankenstein runs at the Garrick Theatre until September 2018.

 Pippin musical transfers to Southwark Playhouse



Vaudeville, magic, comedy, romance – life is an adventure and Pippin has it all.

Jonathan O’Boyle’s acclaimed production of the multi-Tony Award-winning musical Pippin by Grammy and Academy Award recipient Stephen Schwartz (composer of the global smash hit Wicked) will transfer to Southwark Playhouse’s Large space in spring 2018.

A soul-searching exploration of one man’s journey to find himself, his place and purpose in life, Pippin is a musical about an ordinary man on an extraordinary journey. Featuring a stunning score including classics Magic to Do and Corner of the Sky, Pippin was originally directed by the great Bob Fosse and recently completed a hugely successful Broadway revival. This new production spreads a darkness over the innocent tale of the exciting life and adventures of young Prince Pippin, told by a mysterious troupe of Victorian Vaudeville players who promise the audience ‘a finale you will remember for the rest of your lives…’

Stephen Schwartz says: “I am so pleased that such a successful and well-received production of Pippin has finally happened in the UK, and I’m incredibly excited to be sharing it with a London audience.” 

Pippin will be the third production from Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre to transfer to London’s Off-West End in under a year. The team’s production of Hair has just opened at The Vaults.

The Press on director Jonathan O’Boyle:
★★★★★ ‘An excellent production from Jonathan O’Boyle…beautifully calibrated.’ Miriam Gillinson, Time Out on Sense of an Ending

★★★★ ‘Jonathan O’Boyle’s production left me walking on air.’ Mark Shenton, The Stage on Hair

★★★★ ‘Incandescent with feeling…O’Boyle’s production is so intense, so contained.’ Sam Marlowe, The Times on Made in Britain

Aria Entertainment, Hope Mill Theatre and Guy James Theatrical present

by Roger O. Hirson. Composed by Stephen Schwartz. Directed by Jonathan O’Boyle.
Musical direction by Zach Flis. Designed by Maeve Black.
Choreographed by William Whelton. Lighting design by Aaron J Dootson.

Press performance: Wednesday, 28 February at 7.30pm
Run: Friday 23 February – Saturday 24 March 2018

Listings Information



Southwark Playhouse

77-85 Newington Causeway
London SE1 6BD


Nearest Tube: Borough / Elephant and Castle



Friday 23 February – Saturday 24 March 2018

Monday to Saturdays at 7.30pm
Tuesday and Saturday matinees at 3pm (no matinee on 24 February)
See website for full schedule

Box Office



Show website: www.pippinlondon.com

By Telephone

020 7407 0234


Ticket Prices

Preview 23, 24, 26, 27 February – all tickets £14
From 28 February: £25, £20 (conc.)


Students, Under 16’s, Unwaged, Registered disabled, Over 65’s

Registered disabled patrons can bring one companion free of charge.

Keep up to date on Twitter

@swkplay @PippinLDN





First Look: Production Images: The Slaves of Solitude at Hampstead Theatre


First Look: Production Images: Christmas Eve Starring Niamh Cusack and Patrick Baladi

Casting announced on Told By An Idiot’s Napoleon Disrobed directed by Kathryn Hunter

Napoleon Disrobed
Napoleon Disrobed

Napoleon Disrobed

‘What if Napoleon didn’t die in exile? 

What if he swapped identities with a lowly sailor and made it back to Paris?

What then?’

Kathryn Hunter directs Paul Hunter (Told by an Idiot co-founder and artistic director) and Ayesha Antoine (Red Velvet, Garrick Theatre,Dirty Great Love Story) in Napoleon Disrobed, a playful meditation on the significance of power, based on the acclaimed novella The Death of Napoleon by Simon Leys. This follows Kathryn and Paul’s hugely successful collaboration on the Told by an Idiot international smash-hit My Perfect Mind.

The production will open at Theatre Royal Plymouth before a run at London’s Arcola Theatre and will then travel to Birmingham and Scarborough.

Napoleon Disrobed is a wry re-imagining of the final years of Napoleon Bonaparte and examines how legend can often be stronger than reality. Using the company’s trademark comic physicality, Napoleon Disrobed looks at the absurdity of trying to retrieve time and glory and dissects the notion of what it is to lose power but gain personal freedom in the transition from one identity to another.

Director Kathryn Hunter said ‘When Paul gave me Simon Leys novella “The Death of Napoleon to read, I was immediately caught by the author’s wit and playfulness. The story is not a serious historical proposition but a pretext to ask questions about how we live and what we regard as important in our lives. I am so excited to be creating this adaptation with Paul and Ayesha. Paul is pure comic genius, whose seemingly infinite invention often leaves me speechless in rehearsal. Ayesha is a performer of huge depth, strength and versatility. Together they will make a formidable pair and take us on an unforgettable journey’

Told by an Idiot explores the human condition through theatre that is bigger than life. They acknowledge the artifice of performance and make no attempt to put reality on stage, but they inhabit the space between laughter and pain, which exists in the real world. Their work is rooted in the live event and thrives on a sense of spontaneity and risk, celebrating the unpredictability of performance. Through playful collaborative writing, anarchic physicality and a comedic sensibility they create genuinely spontaneous experiences for audiences.

Through their work on stage and through their Taught by an Idiot participation work they foster a sense of openness, curiosity and the desire to play.  They consistently experiment with what art can be and who can be involved, and in doing so their work blurs the lines between artist, participant and audience. Their commitment to accessibility informs the entwined relationship between their productions and their participation work.

Told by an Idiot take creative risks, they tell universal stories and they include everyone.

Tour Details

Theatre Royal Plymouth – The Drum
25 January to 10 February 2018

Arcola Theatre London

14 February to 10 March 2018

Birmingham Rep

12 March to 17 March 2018

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

20 March to 24 March 2018


UK Theatre Awards 2017 – The Gallery

There was recently an awards ceremony in London and here is a photo of all of the win winners. Thank you, the viewers of mrcarlwoodward.com    

Meera Syal joins West End cast of Annie to play Miss Hannigan

Meera Syal

Meera Syal

Today (20 October 2017Michael Harrison and David Ian, Producers of the West End production of Annie announced that from 27 November 2017Meera Syal will join the Company to play the role of Miss Hannigan for the duration of the run which concludes, as previously announced, on 18 February 2018 at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Nikolai Foster’s West End production opened in May this year with Miranda Hart as Miss Hannigan and last month Craig Revel Horwood joined the Company to play the role.  Following the conclusion of the West End run Annie will embark on a five week visit to the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto. 

 British comedian, actor and writer Meera Syal was last on stage earlier this year in a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun) at the Royal Court Theatre where her previous credits include Serious Money and The Great Celestial Cow.  Her other theatre credits include Romeo & Juliet at the Garrick Theatre, Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Rafta Rafta for the National Theatre, Much Ado About Nothing for the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Killing of Sister George at the Arts Theatre,Shirley Valentine for the Menier Chocolate Factory, Bombay Dreams at the Apollo Victoria, My Girl for Theatre Royal Stratford East and Goodness Gracious Me on tour.  On television, she is best known for her work in the BBC’s comedy series The Kumars at No. 42 and Goodness Gracious Me as well as roles inMidsomer Murders, Broadchurch, The Boy in the Dress, Silk, Bollywood Carmen, Doctor Who, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, The Secretary Who Stole £4 Million, Linda Green and Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee.  Her film credits include Absolutely Anything, Desert Flower, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Beautiful Thing, It’s Not Unusual as well as the forthcoming The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.  As a writer, her work includes My Sister Wife and Anita & Me.  Syal was made an MBE in 1997 and a CBE in 2015.

The West End Company of Annie also includes Alex Bourne as Daddy Warbucks, Holly Dale Spenceras Grace Farrell, Jonny Fines as Rooster and Djalenga Scott as Lily.  The title role of Annie is shared by Madeleine Haynes, 14-years old from Hadley Wood, Barnet, Lola Moxom, 12-years old from Rochester, Kent and Ruby Stokes, 12-years old from Hampshire. They are joined by three teams of young performers who play the girls in Miss Hannigan’s orphanage.  Amber, a 4 year-old Labradoodle, plays Annie’s dog Sandy.  Completing the adult company are Russell WilcoxBobby DelaneyKeisha AtwellSophie Ayers, Nic GibneyPatrick HarperBen HarroldGeorge IoannidesMegan LouchBenjamin MundyBen Oliver, Heather Scott-MartinAnne SmithKate Somerset Howand Katie Warsop

Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Meanwhile, spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search for her true family…

 Annie has book by Thomas Meehan adapted from the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, music byCharles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin.  The West End production has sets and costumes designed by Colin Richmond, choreography by Nick Winston, lighting by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Richard Brooker and orchestration and musical direction by George Dyer. 

Foster’s production arrived in the West End 40 years after the original Broadway production opened in 1977 and received seven Tony awards including the Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book.  The last West End production of Annie opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1998. In 1982, Annie was adapted for the big screen directed by John Huston with a cast including Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters and Albert Finney and in 2014 a further feature film was released, directed by Will Gluck, with a cast including Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx.  The much-loved score includes the classics It’s A Hard Knock Life,Tomorrow and Easy Street.


Theatre:                  Piccadilly Theatre, 16 Denman St, Soho, London W1D 7DY

Dates:                    booking to 18 February 2018

Performances:          Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at7.30pm, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm

Prices:                    Tickets from £20 which include a restoration levy of £1.75.  No booking or transaction fees through official sales outlets, Children Go Free (Children must be accompanied by a full paying adult and be 16 years or under at the time of the performance. One free ticket per full paying adult, valid on Band A seats only.Monday to Friday performances, excluding peak weeks and subject to availability)

Box Office:              0844 871 7630

Twitter:                   @AnnieMusicalUK

Facebook:               AnnieMusicalUK

Instagram:              anniemusicaluk

Website:                 www.AnnieWestEnd.com

THE DAMNED UNITED stage adaptation of David Peace’s novel transfers to London

The Damned United
The Damned United

The Damned United Red Ladder Theatre. David Chafer as Peter Taylor and Luke Dickson as Brian Clough. Photo credit MalcIJ

The stage adaptation of THE DAMNED UNITED is transferring to London for a run at The Pleasance Islington from 13-18 November as part of its first UK tour. Award-winning playwright Anders Lustgarten (Lampedusa/The Seven Acts of Mercy) has adapted David Peace’s novel for Red Ladder Theatre Company, which takes the play to the London venue following its success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Combining fiction, fact and hearsay, David Peace’s compelling best-seller is an account of Brian Clough‘s disastrous 44-day period as manager of Leeds United. In a stripped-back staging directed by Red Ladder’s artistic director Rod Dixon, a company of three- Luke Dickson (Brian Clough), David Chafer (Peter Taylor) and Jamie Smelt (Sam Longson/Syd Owen/Jack Kirkland et al) – take audiences up-close to the sweat, fury and power-struggles from pitch-side and inside the flawed but brilliant mind of ‘Old Big ‘ed’.

The story of a troubled genius slamming-up against his limits, THE DAMNED UNITED brings to life the beauty and brutality of football, the working man’s ballet.

The rights for THE DAMNED UNITED were donated by David Peace to Red Ladder Theatre Company for £3.68 – a penny for each page in the novel – in 2014, as a show of support for the Leeds-based radical theatre company when it received a 100% cut to Arts Council Funding. In 2016, Red Ladder presented the world premiere of The Damned United as a co-production with West Yorkshire Playhouse, which played to full capacity houses during a five-week sell-out run. The Damned United has been freshly re-approached by Red Ladder Theatre Company for 2017-2018, as a small-scale production to tour into non-traditional arts spaces, including football grounds, in addition to theatres.

Rod Dixon, artistic director of Red Ladder, says We’re thrilled to be bringing The Damned United to London after a very successful run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where we welcomed fans of sports and theatre alike to our staging of David Peace’s ingenious novel. As a story The Damned United has it all –passion, power struggles, tragedy and a classic anti-hero in Clough – which lends itself brilliantly to  theatre. Anders captures the grit, poetry and darkness of David’s writing and by charting the fall of Brian Clough and exposing what made ‘Old Big ‘ed’ tick, audiences are given a fascinating insight into the troubled but brilliant mind of a flawed genius –who remains one of the most controversial figures in sporting history.”

Playwright Anders Lustgarten says “The Damned United is a brilliantly theatrical book, full of looming shadows, incantatory prose and dramatic conflicts and betrayals. The trick with adapting such fantastic source material is to let it breathe and do its thing, rather than reshape it. I think we’ve done that very successfully, and had a great time in the bargain.”

Author David Peace says, “Football itself, at every level, is drama, theatre and spectacle played out before a living, breathing and usually very partisan audience; this is what Anders, Rod and everybody involved brought to the story which neither the book nor the film could do.”

The Damned United – stage adaptation of David Peace’s novel tours to The Pleasance, London

Red Ladder Theatre Company in association with Unity Theatre Liverpool presents


Written by Anders Lustgarten; Adapted from the novel by David Peace; Directed by Rod Dixon

13 – 18 November 2017, The Pleasance, Islington.

Press performance: Tuesday 14 November, 7.30pm.


Performances: 13-17 November 2017, 7.30pm, £13, £11 concs.

Press night: Tue 14 November, 7.30pm.

Book Tickets: Tel: 0207 609 1800. www.pleasance.co.uk
Venue details: Pleasance, Carpenters Mews, North Road, London, N7 9EF.

Red Ladder Theatre Company: RedLadder.co.uk; @redladdertheatr #thedamnedunited2017




UK Tour dates announced for Dusty the new Dusty Springfield musical

Katherine Kingsley
Katherine Kingsley

Katherine Kingsley

DUSTY, the landmark new musical based on the authorised biography of Dusty Springfield will have its world premiere at Theatre Royal Bath in June 2018 before dates at The Lyceum in Sheffield, Newcastle Theatre Royal, and The Lowry in Salford.

With a fiercely funny and emotionally charged script from BAFTA and Olivier nominated writer Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful ThingCoronation Street), DUSTY will be directed by Olivier Award-winner Maria Friedman (Merrily We Roll AlongStepping Out) and star Katherine Kingsley (PiafSingin’ in theRain) in what promises to be a career-defining performance celebrating the music of a lifetime. Further casting will be announced in due course.

Featuring many of Dusty Springfield’s blazingly soulful pop hits, including I Only Want to Be with You,Son of a Preacher Man and You Dont Have to Say You Love MeDUSTY celebrates theextraordinary and vivacious woman whose timeless voice immortalised her as “one of Britains mostsuccessful female singers” (The Telegraph).

DUSTY originates from the notes and memoirs of the late singer’s close friend and manager Vicki Wickham, as well as conversations with her lifelong personal assistant Pat Rhodes, and friend and record company executive Tris Penna.

London born Dusty Springfield’s career started in the late 1950’s. She soon became known across the world for her soulful voice and iconic look with hits spanning four decades. Her 1969 masterpiece ”Dusty In Memphis’ is considered one of the greatest albums of all time and Dusty has been inducted into both the US Rock and Roll and UK Music Halls of Fame.

Jonathan Harvey wrote his first play in 1987, and has since written over 15 more, including BabiesBoom Bang-A-Bang and Beautiful Thing, which was later made into an acclaimed film. He has been the recipient of the Evening Standard, George Devine and John Whiting Awards, and his work has been both Bafta- and Olivier-nominated. Jonathan’s extensive television writing includes Coronation Street, on which he has worked since 2004, Beautiful People and Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. He has also written for shows as diverse as RevShamelessAt Home With The BraithwaitesThe Catherine Tate Show and Tracey Ullman’s Show. He has also published five novels and been hailed as ‘the new theatrical voice of his generation’.

Best known as a three-time Olivier Award winning star of the musical stage, director Maria Friedmanmade an astonishing directorial debut in 2012 with a hugely acclaimed production of Merrily We Roll Alongwhich won Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards 2013, the Olivier Awards 2014 (for which Maria was also nominated for Best Director of a Musical), and the Critic’s Circle Award 2013. She went on to directHigh Society at The Old Vic in 2015 and recently Stepping Out at the Vaudeville Theatre.

Katherine Kingsley has received widespread critical acclaim and multiple Olivier and WhatsOnStage award nominations. Theatre credits include playing Marlene Dietrich in Piaf (Donmar), Christine Colgate inDirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy Theatre London, Manchester Opera House and Aylesbury Waterside Theatre), Helena in Michael Grandage Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Noël Coward Theatre), Lina Lamont in Singin’ In The Rain (Palace Theatre London and Chichester Festival Theatre) and The 39 Steps (Criterion Theatre). On screen credits include the film Genius as well as appearances on The Bill, Casualty and Bad Education.

DUSTY is produced by Eleanor Lloyd Productions in association with Tris Penna and Vicki Wickham. Eleanor Lloyd Productions is currently presenting Witness for the Prosecution at London County Hall. Recent projects include Nell Gwynn with Gemma Arterton, Olivier Award for Best Comedy (Apollo), Fantastic Mr Fox Winner Best Presentation of Touring Theatre – UK Theatre Awards (NST Theatres & Tour), 1984 (Playhouse, 2014, 2015 & 2016, Hudson Broadway), My Night with Reg, Olivier Nomination for Best Revival (Apollo) and Handbagged, Olivier Nomination for Best Comedy (Vaudeville and UK tour).


Book by Jonathan Harvey
Directed by Maria Friedman

Designer Tom Pye
Choreographer Tim Jackson

WEBSITE : DustySpringfieldMusical.com
SOCIAL: @DustyTheMusical


Saturday 23 June – Saturday 7 July 2018
*Online booking from 2 November 2017*
www.theatreroyal.org.uk | 01225 448844
Tickets from £23.00
Evenings performances at 7.30pm
Matinee performances on Saturday 30th JuneThursday 5th July and Saturday 7th July at 2.30pm.(no performance Monday 25th June).

Wednesday10 July – Saturday 14 July 2018

*On Sale from early 2018*
www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk | 0114 249 6000
Tickets from £18.00
Evening performances at 7.45pm
Matinee performances on Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm

Tuesday 17 July – Saturday 21 July 2018
* General on sale from 10 November 2017*
www.theatreroyal.co.uk | 08448 112 121
Tickets from £19.50
Evening performances at 7.30pm
Matinee performances on Wednesday and Thursday at 2pm and Saturday at 2.30pm

Tuesday 24 July – Saturday 28 July 2018
* General on sale from 20 October 2017*
www.thelowry.com | 0843 208 6000
Tickets from £14.50
Evening performances at 7.30pm
Matinee performances on Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm



Yellow Earth presents TYPHOON 2017 an international Playreading Festival

Yellow Earth Theatre seeks out, develops and produces quality new plays by East Asian writers who live in the UK and abroad.  This November the company’s TYPHOON festival will give audiences in London the perfect opportunity to experience some of this outstanding work when 8 new plays are given semi-staged readings at the West End’s Soho Theatre and the East End’s Rich Mix.  Typhoon WEST at Soho Theatre features the work of British East Asian writers while Typhoon EAST at Rich Mix presents work by East Asian writers from around the world.

Kumiko Mendl

Yellow Earth’s Artistic Director, Kumiko Mendl says: “We chose the name ‘Typhoon’ because it denotes the power and force of these exciting new plays with their origins in the East.  This November’s programme of new plays all have something fresh to say about contemporary life as East Asians and our place in a fast, evolving and often challenging global world.  They are all well articulated, powerful and often very funny.  Thought provoking and entertaining these plays should get everyone talking.  There will be post-show Q&As with some of the writers present as well as the directors and actors.”

  • There will be a panel discussion at Rich Mix on Saturday November 25th (between the two performances) with amongst others Caroline Jester, programme leader of our Professional Writers’ group who has co-authored and edited the very recent Bloomsbury Press publication ‘Fifty Playwrights on their Craft’ available to purchase at the festival.

Typhoon WEST @ Soho Theatre
November 22nd                 3pm                      Fulfillment                          Jeremy Tiang
November 23rd                  3pm                      Zen                                       Joyce Lee
November 24th                  3pm                      Forgotten遗忘                  Daniel York Loh
Tickets:                               020 7478 0100 www.sohotheatre.com

Venue:                                Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE

Typhoon EAST @ Rich Mix
November 24th                  7.30pm                A Fable For Now               Wei Yu-Chia
November 25th                  3pm                      Today Is My Birthday       Susan Soon He Stanton
November 25th                  7.30pm                King of the Yees                Lauren Yee
November 26th                  3pm                      American Hwangap          Lloyd Suh

November 26th                  7.30pm                White Pearl                        Anchuli Felicia King
Tickets:                               020 7613 7498 www.richmix.org.uk
Venue:                                Rich Mix, Venue 1 (Upstairs theatre), Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA



November 22nd – Fulfillment by Jeremy Tiang

Bennett works at an Amazon Fulfilment Center somewhere in America, but she’s writing books instead of selling them.  Her Masters Degree has left her with nothing but student debt and brokendreams. Most of her colleagues in this dead-end job dream of escaping – except Mengru, a Chinese immigrant, who has come to America to learn about capitalism and find a better life here. Can these two women survive in a system that’s rigged against them and what will they have to sacrifice?

Jeremy Tiang’s plays include The Last Days of Limehouse (Yellow Earth) and A Dream of Red Pavilions (Pan Asian Rep, NYC). He also translates novels and plays from Chinese, most recently Xu Nuo’s A Son Soon (Manchester Royal Exchange). Jeremy’s novel State of Emergency is published by Epigram Books in November 2017.

November 23rd – Zen by Joyce Lee

Caroline slogs away at a boring job in a high street bank while dreaming of a better future; her parents want her to return to Hong Kong and she feels increasingly trapped.  After a violent event interrupts her world, her mind begins to unravel; internal voices propel her into an epic and fantastical journey across the UK where she discovers her past, encounters some pandas and finds some peace.

Joyce Lee started working on Zen at Yellow Earth’s writers’ surgery with dramaturg Drayton Hiers. Having had experience of psychosis, she felt a strong impulse to write a play that would convey to an audience what it’s like to experience hearing voices and seeing hallucinations. Through exploring this mental health issue, she hopes the play might challenge stigma and trigger discussion around this topic.

November 24th – Forgotten 遗忘by Daniel York Loh

  1. Republican China. Times are tough in Horse Shoe Village. Old Six and Second Moon struggle to earn enough to feed their young child. Big Dog struggles to overcome opium addiction and for Eunuch Lin, the fall of the Imperial Dynasty couldn’t have come at a worse time. Could a fierce war far away in Europe present an opportunity?

Forgotten (忘) is inspired by the little known story of the 140,000 strong Chinese Labour Corps who left everything to work behind the front lines during WW1

Daniel York is an actor and writer. He has performed at the RSC, National Theatre and Donmar Warehouse. His play The Fu Manchu Complex ran at Ovalhouse. Along with composer Craig Adams, he won the 2016 Perfect Pitch award to create an original stage musical, Sinking Water.  He also features in the UK best-selling essay collection, The Good Immigrant.

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November 24th – A Fable For Now by Wei Yu-Chia

A Fable for Now is a collection of imaginary short stories set in the not so distant future; stories that are a deliberate jumble of moral lessons that could be seen as relevant and meaningful or irrelevant and meaningless. They feature a menagerie of human beings, a polar bear and other talking animals to explore the earth’s political climate.

Wei Yu-Chia has a Masters in Playwriting from Taiwan University’s Drama Department. A Secular Fable won the 2014 Taiwanese Literature Award for Playwriting and was produced in 2016 under the title . Her other plays include Mama/Popstar (2015 Taipei Literature Award for Playwriting – Merit) and A Child From Nankoku (2017 New Taipei Award for Playwriting – Merit).

November 25th – Today Is My Birthday by Susan Soon He Stanton

Emily is a would-be writer whose bubble life in New York City has popped. Finding her homelife chaotic and unfulfilling, she becomes strangely activated after creating a sassy alter-ego for radio. Told through a playful mix of live radio, voicemail and phone calls, this is a quirky comedy about a life with a thousand friends on Facebook but no one to have dinner with on Saturday night.

Susan Soon He Stanton’s plays include We, the Invisibles, Takarazuka!!! and SEEK.  Most recently, she worked in London as a staff writer for the TV series Succession on HBO. She is a two-time Sundance Institute Theater Lab Resident Playwright. She has developed work at the Public Theater, Kennedy Center, NYTW and Disney Creative Entertainment. Today is My Birthday will have its world premiere at the New Ohio Theatre in NYC this  November.

November 25th – King of the Yees by Lauren Yee

 For nearly 20 years Lauren Yee’s father Larry has been a driving force in the Yee Family Association, a seemingly obsolete Chinese American men’s club formed 150 years ago.  But when her father goes missing, Lauren plunges into the rabbit hole of San Francisco Chinatown to confront a world both foreign and familiar. At once bitingly hilarious and heartbreakingly honest, King of theYees is an epic joyride across cultural, national and familial borders.

Lauren Yee’s King of the Yees premiered at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and will soon be seen in San Francisco and Ottawa, Canada.  Her work has been produced in many theatres across the US; she recently won the National Arts Club 2017 Kesselring Prize for her play In A Word which was named a New York Times Critic’s Pick and joins past winner Tony Kushner.  Lauren’s work includes Ching Chong Chinaman (2010) and a number of Off-Broadway plays including The Hatmaker’s Wife.  Her latest, The Great Leap, made the US 2017 Kilroys List which honours plays by women.

November 26th – American Hwangap by Lloyd Suh

Steeped in the difficulty of reunification and reconciliation, American Hwangap tells the story of Min Suk Chun, who some 15 years earlier left his family in a West Texas suburb to return to his native Korea. On the occasion of his 60th birthday (hwangap), a milestone signifying the completion of the Eastern Zodiac and a type of rebirth, he returns to his ex-wife and now adult children as they struggle to reconcile their broken past with the mercurial, verbose and often exasperating patriarch now back at the head of the table.

Lloyd Suh is a member of New York’s Ma-Yi Theatre; American Hwangap has been produced by Magic Theatre (San Francisco), Ma-Yi/Play Co. (NYC), Halcyon/A-Squared (Chicago), Tanghalang Pilipino (Manila) and PCPA (Seoul). Other plays include Charles Francis Chan, Jr, Jesus in India, The Wong Kids.

 November 26th – White Pearl by Anchuli Felicia King

The management team at Clearday™ scramble to deal with a PR disaster after a leaked Chinese advertisement goes viral. Casual blackmail, allegations of corruption and a clash of philosophies fuel this darkly comedic boardroom drama about toxic ideas and the complexity of Pan-Asian relations.

Anchuli Felicia King is a multidisciplinary artist of Thai-Australian descent whose areas of interest include emerging technologies, VFX and projection design, and writing for performance. As a playwright, she explores linguistic hybrids, digital cultures and issues of global urgency.  www.anchulifeliciaking.com