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News release - Issued by York Theatre Royal

Imogen Stubbs stars in world premiere in York Theatre Royal spring season

The spring season at York Theatre Royal promises to take audiences from the Northern shipyards in Sting’s The Last Ship to the dark criminal underworld of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, from the House of Commons in Maiden Speeches to the debtors’ prison at York Castle Museum in These Walls with a cast list including Imogen Stubbs, Gwen Taylor, Kerry Ellis, Janie Dee and TV historian Lucy Worsley.

New work is led by the world premiere of The Be All and End All (Main House, 4–19 May), written by Jonathan Lewis, author of the award-winning play Our Boys, and starring Imogen Stubbs. York Theatre Royal Artistic Director Damian Cruden will direct the production.

This contemporary drama of a family torn apart by a hunger for success and fear of failure asks the question: How far would you go to get your child that coveted A*? High achieving, successful, loving parents, they only want the very best for their son. That’s what everyone wants after all… but who’s it really for?

Jonathan Lewis is also author of Solider On (Studio, 4–7 Apr), which explores what happens as a company of ex-soldiers becomes a company of actors rehearsing a play about a company of veterans and actors.

Continuing the military theme, six Falklands/Malvinas war veterans who once faced each other across a battlefield face each other across a stage in Minefield (Main House, 28-31 Mar, no perf Good Friday). In Lola Arias’ play they share memories, films, songs and photos as they recall their collective war and embody the political figures that led them into it.

The Youth Theatre presents Legacy (Main House, 12-14 Apr) written by Paul Birch and directed by Kate Veysey. The cast will be a mix of youth theatre actors and senior actors drawn from the community. York Associate Schools Festival presents scenes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Main House, 20 Mar) with eight moments from the classic play told through physical ensemble storytelling.

Gwen Taylor, star of Barbara and Duty Free, takes on the iconic role of Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy The Importance of Being Earnest (Main House, 17–21 Apr). She was last seen at York Theatre Royal in the thriller Night Must Fall. Kerry Ellis and Susan Penhaligon also feature in the cast of this Original Theatre Company production.

The same company also premieres Monogamy (Main House, 22-26 May), a new comedy by Torben Betts, starring multi Olivier and Evening Standard award-winner Janie Dee. This state-of-the-nation comedy finds the nation’s favourite TV cook facing the looming collision of living a private life in the public eye.

A new adaptation of Whisky Galore (Main House, 24–28 April) is a tribute to the feisty, fearless all-female touring companies of the post-war years. Witness the Pallas Players as they play all the hilarious characters from Compton Mackenzie’s tale in an innovative and beguiling play.

The UK premiere tour of Sting’s personal, political and passionate musical The Last Ship (Main House, 25–30 June) sails to York.

Spectacular circus and spellbinding songs combine in award-winning Metta Theatre’s new adaptation of Little Mermaid: The Circus Sensation (Main House, 4–7 Apr). This triumphant tale of love overcoming all promises something to enchant everyone from 8 to 108. More family entertainment in Grandad’s Island (Studio, 13–17 Feb), a half-term treat with a five to eight age guide. Adapted for the stage and directed by Matt Aston, this finds Syd and Grandad heading off on a heart-warming adventure that will change their lives forever.

Lucy Worsley: Jane Austen At Home (Main House, March 21) features the ‘undisputed Queen of TV history’ and her new biography taking a new look at the writer’s life from the perspective of her bi-centenary, telling the story through the rooms, spaces, possessions and places which mattered to her.

Four Studio shows also form part of York Literature Festival – Medea Maria (16 March) is Euripides’ Medea retold through the lens of opera diva Maria Callas. Finders Keepers (17 March) from Hot Coals Theatre presents two twits, one junkyard and an unexpected surprise. Using music puppetry and comic happenings with no dialogue, accessible to both D/deaf and hearing audiences. From the creators of Austen’s Women and Jane Eyre: An Autobiography comes The Time Machine (20–21 March), a new and radical interpretation of the H G Wells classic, then be guided by storyteller Clare Muireann Murphy through a landscape of grown-up fairytales in Others From the Other Side (22 March).

Maiden Speeches by Hannah Davies receives a work-in-progress reading (Studio, 13 March) with Barbara Marten, last seen in York in Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes. This new play is inspired by the challenges facing outspoken women everywhere.

Olivier Award-nominated actress Elizabeth Mansfield performs an extraordinary musical homage to Edith Piaf in Hymn To Love (Studio, 17-21 Apr), directed by Damien Cruden. Another great singer Billie Holiday is remembered in Who Wants To Live Forever?, written and performed by Cheryl Martin in the story of one woman’s life-long love for Holiday’s music, for the stars, and for Lee lost baby brother.

Written and performed by Daniel Bye, Instructions For Border Crossing (Studio, 23 May) is described as “the exposed gearbox of a political thriller” with Bye’s trademark storytelling blending with a series of live interventions from the audience. Heads Up (Studio, 22 Feb) features multi award-winning Kieran Hurley in the tale of a familiar city at its moment of destruction.

Jane Upton’s autobiographical play Finding Nana (Studio, 24 Feb), directed by Katie Posner, journeys back to find a beloved Nan before she forgot who she was in a story about the unconditional love between a granddaughter and her Nana. Half Breed (Studio, 8–9 May) is a partly autobiographical dark comedy about finding your voice written and performed by Alfred Fagon Award shortlisted writer Natasha Marshall.

Inspired by real stories from the world of women’s football, Offside (10–11 May) provides an untold commentary on the breakthroughs and limitations in women’s football, exploring wider themes of inequality, self-belief and empowerment. Offside, written by leading spoken world artists Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish, is on its second UK tour after a highly successful run at the Pleasance for the 2017 Edinburgh Festival.

Dance presentations include young people from the finest dance companies across Yorkshire coming together in FRESH 2018 (Main House, 24 March), part of U. Dance, a national celebration of performance by young people. A panel of judges will select groups to represent Yorkshire at U. Dance 2018 in Suffolk. There will also be a ‘fringe’ programme of performances in the De Grey Rooms.

Hueco (Studio, 24 May) is a UK premiere - a contemporary dance solo performance by award-winning Brazilian artist Poliana Lima exploring identity and travel through the physical interaction between movement and live music.

English Touring Opera presents a new production by Blanche McIntyre of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Main House, 1 June) followed by a Puccini double bill of one-act operas Il Tabarro & Gianni Schicchi (Main House, 2 June).

York Settlement Community Players follow their sell-out production of Blue Stockings with Chekhov’s classic Uncle Vanya (Studio, 28 Feb – 10 Mar), while York Light presents Guys and Dolls (Main House, 7–17 March), the musical fable of Broadway based on the story and characters of Damon Runyon.

Two current Theatre Royal hits continue into the New Year - Berwick Kaler’s Jack and the Beanstalk (Main House, until 3 Feb) and E. Nesbit’s The Book Of Dragons (Studio, until 6 Jan). They are followed by the already-announced Brighton Rock (Main House, 16 Feb - 3 March) which brings the dark underworld of Graham Greene’s novel to the stage in Bryony Lavery’s adaptation in a York Theatre Royal and Pilot co-production.


For further information, interviews, images and press tickets contact

Press and PR officer Steve Pratt / 01904 550149


Wed 21 Feb, 7.30pm Brighton Rock
Wed 21 March, 7.30pm Lucy Worsley: Jane Austen At Home
Wed 28 March, 7.30pm Minefield
Wed 4 April, 7pm Little Mermaid
Thu 12 April, 7pm Legacy
Tue 17 April, 7.30pm The Importance of Being Earnest
Tue 24 April, 7.30pm Whisky Galore
Wed 9 May, 7.30pm The Be All and End All
Tue 22 May, 7.30pm Monogamy
Fri 1 June, 7.30pm The Marriage of Figaro
Sat 2 June, 7.30pm Puccini: Il Tabarro & Gianni Schicchi
Mon 25 June, 7.30pm The Last Ship

13 Feb, Grandad’s Island, d1.30pm
4 April, 7.45pm Soldier On
17 April, 7.45pm Hymn To Love – Homage to Piaf
A limited number of review tickets will be available for other Studio shows

15 March, 6.30pm These Walls (Youth Theatre 14-16s)

Notes for Editors:

York Theatre Royal has brought delight and fulfilment to the people of York and beyond by offering a rich and diverse programme of creative activity for 270 years. York Theatre Royal is one of the UK’s leading creative producers and presenters, constantly building on its reputation for producing high quality and ambitious theatre with highly regarded productions of new commissions, revivals at all scales and each year delivering a pantomime of international renown. The theatre serves audiences of all ages – children, youth, teenagers, adults and seniors.