The Reading Between the Lines theatre group is performing Anna Wheatley’s version of A Christmas Carol at Katesgrove’s South Street Arts Centre throughout December. Charles Dickens’ classic novel about a diligent entrepreneur driven to emotional collapse by the health problems of his employee’s children now includes some blindingly good puppetry, several terrific song-and-dance numbers, and a lot more comedy.
Every time I hear the excited phrase on BBC Radio 3 ”and now, the world premiere of…” I suspect there’s a good reason the piece had never been previously broadcast. So, I was a little nervous at spending 70 minutes at an experimental organ recital at Reading University’s Great Hall called Redundant as eyelids in absence of light on 15 November. But Sue Beckett and I rather enjoyed it, in a baffled, we’re-only-from-Reading-what-the-hell-is-going-on sort of way.
We will remember them…
The Progress Theatre are performing Sebastian Faulks’ poignant Birdsong this week. Cleverly condensed for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff, this story of love and loss alternates between the war torn horror of 1916 and the tranquil peacetime of Amiens and is directed with great emotional insight by Steph Dewar.
By Gillie Tunley and Adam Harrington.
The theatre company Reading Between the Lines (RBL) present the final instalment of their Conquerors trilogy, Henry II, in the thrillingly atmospheric St Mary’s Minster, Reading, until Saturday October 27. It is the story of love and power; love between a husband and wife, a King and his former drinking buddy, and a Welsh monk and a beaver.
The first night of Henry II, the pay what you want night, on 8 October was booked with much anticipation as soon as tickets came out in June. There are 17 more days and 24 more performances to come until Reading collapses exhausted with the last night of the last part of the Conquerors trilogy.
The Progress Theatre dazzled on 12 September with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by the inspirational Andy Camichel with wonderful musical direction by Jane Southern and fabulous Band, and choral coaching by the versatile Stuart McCubbin.
This week, the Reading Rep Theatre present Carmen the Gipsy, based on the original Prosper Mérimée legend, in collaboration with the Romany Theatre Company. It is a powerful and punchy production (directed by Abigail Graham) and is infused with Romany values, featuring magnificent original music (by the inspired Dan Allum).
By Gillie T and Brenda Sandilands
And then the rabbit died, co-written by Atramental Theatre’s Kate Sullivan and Rory Devlin, was first performed in November last year and is still highly topical. This raw and funny play takes us through the confusing maze that is Ireland’s family planning system (or lack of, in the words of the playwrights).
By Brenda Sandilands and Gillian Tunley
Reading University Dramatic Society’s (RUDS) captivating new musical leads us into an imaginary end-of-the-world scenario. A long-lost letter which foresees the doom and destruction of the planet is discovered – is a devastating meteor on its way?
By Brenda Sandilands.
The Progress Theatre‘s delightful production of ‘Much Ado’ transports us to an English country house in May 1945, with most of the action taking place on the veranda and gardens. This clever choice allows the cast to make the most of the glorious outdoor setting – the magnificent Reading abbey ruins. It also means that a simple stage and few props are sufficient (a wireless and a patio table with chairs).
The big surprise on the night of 27 June was the special award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Arts’ which was won by the Rising Sun Arts Centre on Silver Street (pictured above). For the expected awards, the Whitley Pump had featured at least one of the finalists in each of the twelve categories of this year’s Reading Cultural Awards.
By Gillie Tunley and Brenda Sandilands.
Progress Theatre are staging Happy Jack, John Godber’s timeless and touching tale (inspired by his own grandparents) of a couple in mining Yorkshire, where coal is king.