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Mesmerising Sweeney Todd got me by the throat

Sweeney and Mrs Lovett (image with him sat on chair)

Lots to love about Nick Bagnall’s stripped-back Sweeney Todd in Liverpool, including the cast, acting, and absorbing scenes between Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett and the decision to set it in a time of Brexhaustion. Everything seems fresh minted. 

Bagnall’s wickedly heartfelt production with just four musicians and nine actors is something very special indeed. The marriage of humour and horror is expertly done and never gimmicky. 

Liam Tobin is a grounded Demon Barber of Fleet Street, who “shaved the faces of gentlemen who never thereafter were heard of again.” His ghoulish demeanour is always striking.  

‘Demons are prowling everywhere, nowadays,’ observes young street orphan Tobias, here played brilliantly by Shiv Rabheru, in ‘Not While I’m Around’. This sequence shines through the prism of social poverty, environmental apocalypse and Brexit Britain. 

It’s a lot more earnest, prescient as well.

You can see why Everyman programmed Sondheim’s musical thriller: it’s a genuinely political piece about austerity, the underdog and the lengths that desperate people will go to for survival. 

The thing that’s really been obsessing me though, is everything about the muted design and brilliant cast who prove truly inventive – interacting with the audience with verve and wrapping their brains around Sondheim’s complex score with a knowing wink.

Michael Vale’s design envelopes the stage with simple effects and minimal props – the staging is in the round and the action takes place on a metallic disc that is often lit from below in tones of blood red and spooky green. 

There is real invention: the cast take turns to rotate the central action manually using their hands or a stick. 

The most surprising thing about this Sweeney Todd, however, is Kacey Ainsworth as nonchalant Mrs Lovett – the criminal mastermind behind all this human pie-making; dressed in a white vest and wearing trainers Ainsworth has the audience in the palm of her hands from the start and this Mrs Lovett is a creation of true genius.

Ainsworth is very good throughout, especially in extended dream sequence ‘By The Sea’, which may be the happiest few minutes of regional theatre that you will see all year. 

In short, this is the food of love: get on a train and play on.

Sweeney Todd is at Everyman, Liverpool, until 18 May.

Everyman announce further casting for major production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd

Cast of Sweeney Todd
Cast of Sweeney Todd

Cast of Sweeney Todd

The Everyman & Playhouse have announced further casting for associate director Nick Bagnall’s anarchic production of the musical Sweeney Todd.

Actors announced to join Liam Tobin who plays Sweeney in Nick Bagnall’s production

  • Production runs from 12 April to 18 May
  • Tickets are available now
  • Two more actors still to be revealed

Former EastEnders star Kacey Ainsworth will play the role of Mrs Lovett. Known for her performance as Little Mo in the soap, Kacey is currently in her fourth series of the ITV detective drama Grantchester. This will be Kacey’s first production at the Everyman.

Also announced is returning Everyman Company 2017 member Dean Nolan. He played the roles of Motel, Mercutio and Sluplianek in the 2017 productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Romeo & Juliet and Conquest of the South Pole. Dean returns to the Everyman to play rival barber Pirelli.

Paul Duckworth will play Judge Turpin, following his performances in Everyman Company 2018 shows Paint Your Wagon and Othello. Paul returns to the Everyman after his recent role in the Royal Court’s production of Scouse Cinderella over Christmas.

Playing The Beadle is Mark Rice-Oxley. The Merseyside actor is back at the Everyman for the first time since performing in the 2014 production of Bright Phoenix 

Keziah Joseph is cast in the role of Johanna Barker. Keziah recently visited the Playhouse in 2017, playing Mowgli in a major UK touring production of The Jungle Book.

The role of Tobias will be played by Shiv Rabheru and North-Wales actor Bryan Parry completes the current group of casting in the role of Anthony.

The new cast members join the already announced Liam Tobin, who plays Sweeney Todd in the production, with one more actor still to be announced.

Nick Bagnall, associate director at Everyman & Playhouse, said: “I’m really excited to be working with this group of actors for Sweeney Todd. It will be great to see old Company members, as well as some new faces, on the Everyman stage.

“It’s a show that packs a real political punch and the music is incredible, but also the story’s so fascinating – it’s gruesome, dangerous, dark and funny.

“Most productions of Sweeney Todd have around 25 to 30 cast members, but our ensemble will include just nine talented actors who can sing for this production. Adding to the fact that we will be performing it in the round, this will be a stripped-back, rough, hard-edged, soulful and a show tailor-made for Everyman audiences.”

Sweeney Todd will be performed at the Everyman from 12 April to 18 May. Tickets are on sale now and available at: https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on/sweeney-todd  or by calling Box Office on 0151 709 4776.

Shakespeare’s Globe announces full casting for Edward II and After Edward

Edward II
 Edward II

Edward II

Shakespeare’s Globe has announced the full cast for Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II, directed by Nick Bagnall, and for Tom Stuart’s new play After Edward, directed by Brendan O’Hea.

Examining ancestral relationships and notions of identity, sexuality and power, Marlowe’s Edward IIsees King Edward recall his lover, Gaveston, from banishment, setting in motion a chain of events that culminate in some of the most shocking scenes in early modern theatre. Tom Stuart’s new play After Edward, written specifically for the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in response to Edward II, sees Edward return to the stage alone, bloodied and confused. He has no idea where he is, or how he got here, but he does have an ominous feeling that something is wrong.

Performed by the same cast of actors, Edward II opens in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse on Thursday 7 February, followed by After Edward on Thursday 21 March.

Tom Stuart, writer of After Edward, will play the titular role in both productions. Tom has appeared as an actor at Shakespeare’s Globe in many productions including The Broken HeartThe Changeling(2015), Romeo & Juliet (2009) and Much Ado About Nothing (2007). He performed in the Battersea Arts Centre’s production of Edward II in 2008. His screen credits include Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyPeople Just Do Nothing (BBC), Psychobitches (Sky Arts), and A Good Year. Tom has been working in film, television and theatre as an actor for 14 years. His first play I Am Not Myself These Days, an adaptation of Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s New York Times bestselling autobiography, was performed by Tom at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2015) and toured the UK in 2016.

Annette Badland will play Mortimer Senior in Edward II and Gertrude Stein in After Edward. Annette returns to the Globe after appearing in The Winter’s Tale and Eyam earlier this year. Previous theatre credits include Stranger At The Table (Pascal Theatre Company), Far Away (Bristol Old Vic), Kin and Hung Over (Royal Court). Television work includes Shakespeare and Hathaway (BBC), EastEnders(BBC), Outlander (Starz) and Father Brown (BBC). Film includes A Quiet PassionThe Girl in a Bubble and Mother’s Milk.

Richard Bremmer is Spencer Senior in Edward II and Leather Man in After Edward, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury in both plays. Previous work at Shakespeare’s Globe includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Julius Caesar. Richard was part of the 2017/18 Everyman Company (Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse). His other theatre work includes Shakespeare In Love (Noel Coward) and The Last Days of Troy (Royal Exchange). Television includes The Hollow Crown (BBC) and The Borgias (Netflix). Film includes In FabricSwallows and Amazons and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Richard Cant is Earl of Lancaster in Edward II and Quentin Crisp in After Edward. Richard’s previous theatre work includes Maydays (RSC), Saint Joan (Donmar) and Medea (Almeida). Television work includes Silent Witness (BBC), Taboo (BBC) and Outlander (Starz). Richard appears in the upcoming film Mary, Queen of Scots directed by Josie Rourke.

Polly Frame will play the Earl of Kent in Edward II and Harvey Milk in After Edward. Polly’s recent theatre credits include Thick as Thieves (Clean Break), Jekyll & Hyde (Rose Kingston), A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Hull Truck) and Henry V (Regent’s Park). Television work includes Doctors (BBC), Coronation Street (ITV) and Holby City (BBC). Film includes MacbethHalf Light and Duplicity.

Jonathan Livingstone is Mortimer Junior in Edward II and Edward Alleyn in After Edward. Jonathan returns to the Globe after appearing in Daniel Kramer’s Romeo and Juliet in 2017. Jonathan’s other theatre credits include Twelfth Night (Young Vic), Machinal (Almeida) and The Caretaker (Bristol Old Vic and Royal & Derngate). Television includes Chewing Gum (E4).

Sanchia McCormack is Earl of Warwick in Edward II and Margaret Thatcher in After Edward. Sanchia returns to the Globe after appearing in Caroline Steinbeis’s The Broken Heart in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in 2015. Sanchia’s other theatre work includes Minotaur (Theater Clwyd/Polka Theatre) and One Night in November (Belgrade Theatre). Television includes The Innocents (Netflix), Silent Witness (BBC) and Catastrophe (Channel 4).

Colin Ryan is Spencer Junior in Edward II and Cowboy in After Edward. Colin returns to the Globe after appearing in Matthew Dunster’s The Secret Theatre in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse last year. Colin’s other theatre credits include Frankenstein (Royal Exchange) and Snow in Midsummer (RSC). Television includes Shakespeare and Hathaway (BBC).

Beru Tessema is Gaveston in both productions. Beru returns to the Globe after appearing in the Globe to Globe festival in 2012 and in several other Globe productions including Matthew Dunster’s The Frontline and Troilus and Cressida (2009) and Dominic Dromgoole’s King Lear (2008). His other theatre credits include Slaves (Theatre 503) and Hanjo (Young Vic Studio).

Katie West is Queen Isabella in Edward II and Dorothy Gale and Maria von Trapp in After Edward. Katie’s other theatre work includes The York Realist (Donmar Warehouse), Uncle VanyaChamaco(Home), Lela & Co (Royal Court) and Carmen Disruption (Almeida).

Full cast includes: Annette Badland, Richard Bremmer, Richard Cant, Polly Frame, Jonathan Livingstone, Sanchia McCormack, Colin Ryan, Tom Stuart, Beru Tessema and Katie West.

Sweeney Todd announced at the Everyman, as the Playhouse welcomes bold and innovative companies for Spring 2019

Sweeney Todd
  •  Nick Bagnall to direct Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd featuring Liam Tobin
  • Co-production with Middle Child and Hull Truck Theatre announced
  • Major production of Stones in his Pockets joins Abigail’s PartyThe Girl on the Train
  • Busy children’s programme includes The Cat in the Hat, Around the World in 80 Days and The Worst Witch
  • International company Dead Centre present Chekhov’s First Play

A politically-charged production of the gruesome musical Sweeney Todd (Fri 12 Apr to Sat 18 May) will be brought to life on the Everyman stage in April 2019. Directed by Nick Bagnallthe production explores the social inequalities in a decaying nineteenth century England ruled by the corruption of the upper classes. Liam Tobin (Everyman Company 2017 and 2018) plays the role of Sweeney Todd, with the full cast to be announced in the New Year. This bold production is joined by exciting collaborations with other theatre-makers.

In association with Hull Truck Theatre and Middle Child, the Everyman & Playhouse present the premiere of Us Against Whatever (Wed 20 Mar to Sat 23 Mar). Following a hugely successful run of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything at Edinburgh and the Bush Theatre, Middle Child present an electrifying cabaret featuring live music and karaoke that looks at the most important the most important subject of this age…the people.

Joining the already announced and on-sale major productions of Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party (Mon 25 Mar to Sat 30 Mar) and best-selling thriller The Girl on the Train (Mon 11 Mar to Sat 16 Mar)is a new production of the award-winning comedy Stones in His Pockets (Mon 18 Mar to Sat 23 Mar). Directed by Lindsay Posner, two actors take on multiple roles to tell the story of a Hollywood film crew in Ireland. Once there and with many cultural differences, the crew soon find their romanticised view of the Emerald Isle isn’t quite what they imagined.

Comedy Caroline’s Kitchen (Mon 18 Mar to Sat 23 Mar) visits Liverpool ahead of a transfer to New York. Starring Caroline Langrishe (LovejoyJudge John Deed), Aden Gillett (The House of Eliott) and James Sutton (EmmerdaleHollyoaks), the story follows Caroline Mortimer – a TV chef with a seemingly perfect life off screen. But as the cameras go dark, an unexpected guest disrupts a night of celebration, and there’s more than just wine to spill.

A rich family programme sees Kenny Wax Production’s whirlwind Around the World in 80 Days (Wed 17 Apr to Sat 20 Apr) return to the Playhouse after a hugely popular run in Autumn 2017. Joining the programme for young children is Dr Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat (Wed 27 Feb to Sat 2 Mar), a circus spectacular by Leicester Curve, who also brought George’s Marvellous Medicine to the Playhouse this year. Featuring original songs, music and magic The Worst Witch (Tue 28 May to Sat 1 Jun) flies in, as the accident prone witch-in-training Mildred Hubble from Jill Murphy’s bestselling children’s series goes on another tale of mayhem.

The Everyman will also host the national Family Arts Conference on Tuesday 12 February for creative professionals to explore to value of arts and culture for families across the UK.

As the theatres continue to present innovative and new ways to tell a story, there is a digital re-telling of literary classic Heart of Darkness (Wed 1 May to Sat 4 May) by Imitating the Dog, and Dead Centre do a huge in-justice to a great playwright, as they bring internationally acclaimed Chekhov’s First Play (Wed 8 May to Sat 11 May) to the Playhouse.

With their own devised work, Young Everyman & Playhouse make their debut on the Playhouse stage to dissect elements of our society and challenge audiences. This year,Crowd (Wed 27 Feb to Sat 2 Mar) looks at the mentality of the group and the control of autocrats.

Eclipse Theatre Company make a welcome return with Princess & The Hustler, following 10-year-old Princess on her discovery of what it really means to be black and beautiful in 1960s Britain. The production is part of Eclipse’s Revolution Mix movement aimed at placing Black narrative at the heart of British Theatre.

Returning to the Playhouse and giving our health service an examination is comedian Mark Thomas with Check Up – Our NHS @ 70 (Fri 12 Apr and Sat 13 Apr)Based on interviews with leading experts in and on the NHS, Mark uses his own brand of humour to look at what’s going right, what’s going wrong and how does it get better for our health service.

The Playhouse welcomes Spymonkey back to follow up A Christmas Carol with pulp-gothic romance Cooped (Tue 4 Jun to Sat 8 Jun)Celebrating 20 years of Spymonkey, the physical comedy pioneers present a ‘Hitchcock on acid’ tale. A spooky mansion, a plucky young heroine and a handsome English aristocrat (with a Spanish soap star and German aristocrat thrown in for good measure) all make for a full-throttle farce to close the Playhouse season.

A busy engagement programme sees work travel out of the theatre and into our communities. Taking place over a two-course meal at Hanover Street’s Angel Restaurant, On the Wire present From Shore to Shore (Tue 19 Mar and Wed 20 Mar) blending English, Mandarin and Cantonese, to tell the powerful stories of migrant Chinese communities living in the UK.

The Brilliant Bard (Fri 1 Mar to Fri 8 Mar) at the Everyman is a landmark Shakespeare festival to celebrate one of the greatest ever playwrights. Open to everyone, the festival will feature masterclasses, workshops and culminate in a symposium. Experts from organisations including the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moore’s University and other industry leaders will discuss why the works of Shakespeare are so enduring and how we can use it to learn more about today,

Gemma Bodinetz, artistic director at Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatres, said:

“Each season we aim to bring the very best in home-grown, national and international theatre to Liverpool.  And this season is no exception! Both the Everyman and Playhouse feature companies bringing us classic titles, adventurous adaptations and ground-breaking theatre making. Not to mention the extraordinary work of Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP) performing this season for the first time on the Playhouse stage.

“Our centre-piece in-house production at the Everyman will be Sondheim’s dark masterpiece Sweeney Todd directed by our associate director Nick Bagnall and featuring Liam Tobin (regular Everyman company member) as the eponymous anti-hero. We are also proud to be working in association with Hull Truck and Middle Child to bring Us Against Whatever to the Everyman. This is an adventurous new work featuring a live band and karaoke opportunities for the audience.

“The Company itself is taking a pause. It achieved so much artistically including several awards and its spirit (and indeed many of its regular members) will continue to infuse our work and our ambition to bring adventurous, ensemble-led theatre to Liverpool remains undiminished.”

 General sale for all shows in the Everyman & Playhouse Spring 2018 programme will be available to the public from Monday 3 December. Tickets will be available by calling Box Office on 0151 709 4776 or at: https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on.

Shakespeare’s Globe announces full casting for Nick Bagnall’s Love’s Labour’s Lost

Love's Labour Lost
Love's Labour Lost

Love’s Labour Lost

Shakespeare’s Globe has announced full casting for Nick Bagnall’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, opening in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse on Thursday 23 August.

Dharmesh Patel will play Berowne. Dharmesh returns to the Globe after starring in Barrie Rutter’s The Captive Queen in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse earlier this year. Other recent theatre credits include Titus AndronicusAntony and Cleopatra and Julius Caesar (RSC), The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Tempest (Shakespeare’s Globe). 

Kirsty Woodward is Princess of France. Kirsty appeared at The Globe in last year’s touring production of Tristan & Yseult, and has also appeared in Globe productions of Pericles and The Winter’s Tale. Her recent television work includes Bad Move (ITV) and Quacks (BBC).

Paul Stocker will play King of Navarre, returning to the Globe after appearing as Palamon in Barrie Rutter’s The Two Noble Kinsmen earlier this summer. Paul’s other theatre credits include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (West End), CoralA Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky(National Theatre Studio) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park). Television work includes DoctorsEastEnders and The Rack Pack (BBC).

Jade Williams is Rosaline. Jade has appeared in several Globe productions including Matthew Dunster’s Doctor Faustus, Raz Shaw’s God of Soho and Jessica Swale’s Bedlam. Jade’s other recent theatre work includes The Cherry OrchardThe Lower Depths (Arcola) and The Seagull (Chichester, National Theatre).

Tom Kanji will play Dumaine. Tom has appeared in numerous Globe productions including Michael Longhurst’s The Winter’s Tale, Dominic Dromgoole’s Pericles and John Dove’s Doctor Scroggy’s War. Other recent theatre work includes The Country Wife (Chichester) and The Box of Delights (Wilton’s Music Hall). Tom was also part of The Everyman Company 2017.

Leaphia Darko will play Katherine. Leaphia recently starred as Portia in Nicholas Hytner’s Julius Caesar at The Bridge Theatre. Other recent theatre credits include Cookies – The Cyberscene Project(Theatre Royal Haymarket) and Mary Stuart (Almeida).

Charlotte Mills is Boyet. Charlotte returns to the Globe stage after appearing in the Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank schools production of Much Ado About Nothing earlier this year. Other recent theatre work includes The Country Wife (Chichester) and Abigail’s Party (Theatre Royal Bath). Television includes Moorside (BBC).

Jos Vantyler is Don Armado, also returning to the Globe after appearing in Barrie Rutter’s The Two Noble Kinsmen earlier this summer. Jos’s other recent theatre work includes For Love or Money and The Merry Wives (Northern Broadsides). Television work includes The Secret Files (BBC) and Here and Now (CBS)

Peer Gynt boldly reimagined as the Everyman Company presents new Liverpool play The Big I Am

THE BIG I AM
THE BIG I AM

THE BIG I AM

  • New Liverpool play by writer Robert Farquhar to premiere on Everyman stage
  • Nick Bagnall to direct production featuring three actors playing Peer Gynt, as full company reunite for final production in Everyman season

 A bold reimagining of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt premières as the fourth production of the Everyman Company 2018, as Dead Heavy Fantastic writer Robert Farquhar returns with new Liverpool work The Big I Am.

Directed by Nick Bagnall, the production smashes apart the classic 18th century Norwegian tale and rebuilds it to create a psychedelic ‘trip’ – travelling from wartime Liverpool, to the bright lights of Las Vegas, to Dubai and beyond.

 The Big I Am follows a brazen Peer Gynt on his journey through time and life. Armed with a sharp tongue and a vivid imagination, he has big ideas. Leaving the home of his Ma, Peer sets out on a quest to announce himself to the world, changing the lives of everyone he meets, but not always for the better.

In a big world filled with opportunity and riches, Peer has the world at his feet. But is there something from his past holding him back? A story filled with unpredictability and fate in equal measure, The Big I Am is a production of discovery, adventure, love, family and staying true to your roots.

Teeming with characters, bursting with comedy, pulsing with live music and set in the round in the unique space of the Everyman auditorium, The Big I Am takes us on a journey to new worlds.

Robert Farquhar said: “Peer Gynt as a play has always fascinated me with its sheer theatrical ambition, uniqueness, strangeness and scope. I have set out to make this a very funny, very moving modern adaptation of a notoriously difficult play.

“Full of humour, music, epic theatricality and, at times, heart-breaking poignancy, The Big I Am was written especially for the Everyman, with the Everyman Company in mind.”

 Tickets for The Big I Am and other company shows are on sale now from £10 to £32. Tickets for young people are available £5 across all company shows at all performances, as the Everyman & Playhouse continue to make their work accessible to all.

Captioned and Audio Described performances are available for The Big I Am. To support the visits of those attending with Access needs, the Everyman continues to offer a companion seat where additional support is required.

Bookers have the opportunity to see multiple productions through subscription packages, from as little as £38. To find out more about the prices available for all shows and to buy your tickets, visit: https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/the-everyman-company-2018, or call Box Office on 0151 709 4776.

THE BIG I AM

A reimagining of Peer Gynt by Robert Farquhar

Director Nick Bagnall

Designers Molly Lacey Davies & Jocelyn Meall

Composer James Fortune

Musical Supervisor George Francis

Lighting Designer Kay Haynes

Sound Design Everyman Sound Department

Assistant Designer Natalie Johnson

Casting Director Sophie Parrott CDG

 Cast

 Nadia Anim: Helen / Feral Boy / Woman in Neck Brace / Assistant / Ensemble

Emma Bispham: Vera / Ruby / Woman in Wheelchair / Ensemble

Richard Bremmer: Peer Gynt #3 / King / South African Businessman / Man on Crutches / Ensemble

Patrick Brennan: Geezer / Priest / Ensemble

George Caple: Bridegroom / Hippy Spokesman / Australian Businessman / Inmate / Vicar / Ensemble

Paul Duckworth: Dad / Geezer / American Businessman / Elvis / Ensemble

Marc Elliott: Singer / Hippy / Compere / Ensemble

Cerith Flinn: Hippy / Mugger / Mourner / Strange Passenger / Ensemble

Emily Hughes: Cynthia / Doreen / Nurse / Barmaid / Ensemble

Nathan McMullen: Peer Gynt #1 / Ensemble

Zelina Rebeiro: Sylvie / Maureen / Anitra / Ensemble

Golda Rosheuvel: Mother / Green Woman / Ensemble

Keddy Sutton: Ma / German Businessman / Ensemble

Liam Tobin: Peer Gynt #2 / Father/ Rag and Boneman / Ensemble

 

Everyman Company to perform Anthony Burgess’ stage adaptation of A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

Production features music composed for the play by Anthony Burgess – the first time this has been performed alongside the script in the UK

  • Director Nick Bagnall to work with composer James Fortune and movement director Etta Murfitt with the production featuring live music
  • Company actor George Caple to play role of Alex following his performance as Romeo in the Company 2017 production of Romeo & Juliet

The Everyman Company 2018 will present the stage adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess as director Nick Bagnall invites audiences into a world of milk, ultraviolence and Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Created in 1986, Burgess’ stage adaptation was written 24 years after the publication of his original acclaimed novel. The infamous cult story was propelled into the public eye by Stanley Kubrick’s notorious film version in 1971.

Everyman & Playhouse associate director Nick Bagnall, will present a bold reimagining of Anthony Burgess’ dark, dystopian play written by the literary figure himself and featuring songs and music composed by Burgess – the first time this will have been used alongside the play in the UK.

 A Clockwork Orange drops audiences into the world of teen Alex and his incessant desire to find enjoyment in life. Alex loves milk. Alex loves Beethoven. The problem is, Alex also loves violence. With a trail of destruction and misery following the seemingly amoral teenager, everyone agrees that something must be done to stop the boy.

 But is punishment the answer? Or can the world find another way to reform the rebellious youth culture taking over their cities and high rise buildings?

Playing the role of Alex is George Caple, following his performance as Romeo in the Company 2017 season. He will be joined by Nathan McMullen (Georgie), Zelina Rebeiro (Pete) and Young Everyman and Playhouse actor Phil Rayner (Dim) playing Alex’s infamous droogs.

Company members Nadia Anim, Richard Bremmer, Keddy Sutton and Liam Tobin complete the casting, with droogs and other actors playing a variety of different roles in the production.

Nick Bagnall said: “I have wanted to direct Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange ever since I saw a version by the RSC in 1990, where Bono and the Edge created their own soundtrack. At that point I had no idea that Burgess had composed his own music, led by the work of Beethoven.

“The juxtaposition between the glory of Beethoven’s composition, the inanity of Burgess lyrics and the shocking ultraviolence makes for a mix of cabaret, music hall and a visceral theatrical experience.

“Violent and all still too relevant, throw in a wonderful ensemble and we have a real ‘horror show’ of a night for our audience.”

 Working alongside Nick Bagnall is returning composer James Fortune and choreographer Etta Murfitt. James will again provide the musical arrangement for the Company after working on the 2017 productions of The Conquest of the South Pole and Romeo & Juliet. Etta will direct movement on the production having previously worked at the Everyman on Dead Dog in a Suitcase and The Tin Drum with theatre company Kneehigh.

Returning designers from the Everyman Company 2017 Molly Lacey Davies and Jocelyn Meall have created the set to stage Burgess’ story turning the Everyman stage into a brutalist dystopian landscape, set in the round.

Tickets for A Clockwork Orange and other company shows are on sale now.  A variety of prices are available across the season, with tickets priced at £10 to £40 – or just £5 for young people – at all performances, as the Everyman & Playhouse continue to make their work accessible to all.

Captioned, BSL and Audio Described performances are available for all four productions. To support the visits of those attending with Access needs, the Everyman has increased the discount and continue to offer a companion seat where additional support is required.

Bookers have the opportunity to see multiple productions through subscription packages, from as little as £31.50. To find out more about the prices available for all shows and to buy your tickets, visit: https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/the-everyman-company-2018.

First Look: Romeo and Juliet presented by Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, directed by Nick Bagnall

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Liverpool Everyman, Director Nick Bagnall: “I had a woman sharply point at me and decry: ‘There’s no room for rock and roll in Shakespeare’”

Nick Bagnall

Nick Bagnall

We are all familiar with Romeo and Juliet. The Everyman Company and actors from Liverpool’s Young Everyman Playhouse are uniting to celebrate Shakespeare’s brutal tale of love and family. Director, Nick Bagnall has come out of rehearsals and is in a buoyant mood. “Rehearsals are going fantastically well. I’ve done a big edit of the play and made bold decisions with the casting,” he says. “Time is short, so I’m filling the production with ensemble and song.”

George Caple and Elliot Kingsley play the star-crossed lovers, in a conceptual reimagining involving a gender switch of Romeo and Julius. There has been a lot of gender-blind casting in Shakespeare over the past year or so – Tamsin Greig played Malvolia at the National, The all-female trilogy at the Donmar; Glenda Jackson’s King Lear  at the Old Vic and many more. This contemporary view of the play will be applied to Bagnall’s fast paced production where bloodshed on the streets and arranged marriage are common place.

Romeo & Juliet

Romeo & Juliet

Is Bagnall prepared for backlash from traditionalists? “I’m never surprised by the purists. They always say something that is slightly rigid. Ultimately, when I’m making work I like to be anarchic and playful,” he says defiantly. “The young people who are in the company – of which there are over forty – are incredible and they are blown away by the gender swap. It’s rather beautiful and its given it a vitality that I really hoped it would. I relocated Shakespeare to the swinging 60’s in my recent production of Two Gentlemen of Verona at The Globe,” he laughs. “I had a woman sharply point at me and decry: ‘There’s no room for rock and roll in Shakespeare’ – I’m totally prepared for backlash!”

What is fantastic about this production is that it is made with and for young people. The Liverpool Everyman’s children, and young people are at the heart of the show’s process. “Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP) are the best youth theatre in the land”, he says. “They are an incredible bunch of young people. I have to say that, for them, just being in a room with professional actors, it’s very clear how much they are learning; they bring a unique energy to proceedings. My biggest aim with this is about demystifying Shakespeare for young people and to create something that they can relate to when it comes to living in Liverpool in 2017.”

We’ve all seen the story of Juliet and Romeo test the patience of audiences more than perhaps any other Shakespeare play. So why is Bagnall’s any different, why should we come along? “Because its open-hearted, sexy and vital storytelling,” he says. “I have a fantastic cast and an electric bunch of young people. It’s rock and roll… Oh and there’s even a bit of Indian dub-step.”

Romeo and Juliet runs Saturday 27 May to Wednesday 7 June at Liverpool Everyman

Rehearsal images Gallery below. Photographs by Brian Roberts

Liverpool’s Everyman Company with Young Everyman and Playhouse explore love and transgression in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet, Young Everyman Playhouse

Romeo and Juliet, Young Everyman Playhouse

The Everyman Company will join with the award-winning Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP) for Romeo and Juliet. Set in a world of gangs, Nick Bagnall’s production reimagines Shakespeare’s classic love tale for 21st Century audiences, exploring sexuality with some of the characters having their gender swapped, including Juliet who will become Julius.

O, be some other name. What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called. Romeo, doff thy name, and for that name which is no part of thee take all myself.

This contemporary view of the play will be an edited, fast paced production where there is bloodshed on the streets and family rivalries and arranged marriages are common place. The ‘swords’ of the original will be replaced with the ‘knives’ of today.

George Caple (Romeo) and Elliott Kingsley (Julius) will play the star-crossed lovers. Caple graduated from RADA in 2016 and has appeared in Who Cares(Lowry) and Epic Love and Pop Songs (Pleasance) prior to the Everyman Rep Season. Kingsley came through the theatre’s YEP auditions to take up a training place in the Company funded by Everyman alumni and his roles in the Rep Season mark his professional stage debut.

Harnessing YEP’s explosive youth to energise Shakespeare’s exploration of young love and transgression, the production will feature two YEP members Isobel Balchin (Benvolio) and Alice Corrigan (Balthasar) along with a Women’s Chorus and a further 25 young people as the rival gangs. The thread of youthful promise in the production is continued backstage with LIPA Design Prize winner Molly Elizabeth Lacey Davies designing the set.

Director Nick Bagnall said: “It is a play that is constantly revisited and demands to be placed in modern times to allow it to reflect the lives of young people today. We are strongly committed to creating work with and for young people, so bringing the Rep Company together with YEP and Romeo & Juliet in such an exciting way is the perfect choice.”

The season comes full circle in the final production with the full Company featuring. Richard Bremmer plays Friar Laurence, Patrick Brennan is the Prince, Tom Kanji plays Tybalt and Friar John, Asha Kingsley plays Lady Capulet, the Nurse will be Melanie La Barrie, Dean Nolan will be Mercutio, Zelina Rebeiro plays Countess Paris and Lord and Lady Montague will be played by Liam Tobin and Keddy Sutton. Pauline Daniels, Laura Dos Santos and Emily Hughes join the chorus.

PRESS NIGHT: Liverpool Everyman, Wednesday 31 May at 7:30pm

 Dates:                                                  Saturday 27 May to Wednesday 7 June

Venue:                                                 Liverpool Everyman, Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BH

Times:                                                  7:30pm (except Mon 5 & Wed 7 June)

Matinée:                                             2 pm on Sat 3 June

Twilight:                                             5:30pm on Mon 5 & Wed 7 June

 Tickets:                                              £10 – £30*           

Box Office:                                          0151 709 4776

Online booking (24-hour):            www.everymanplayhouse.com

*A single transaction fee of £2 applies to all phone, counter and internet bookings. Cash payments are exempt from any transaction fees.

 www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on/romeo-juliet