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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Harrogate festival geared up to spotlight theatre talent

Round the U-bend ... Royal Flush,
 a comic play
about Yorkshire's loo hero.
Harrogate's second All Points North Festival is back with organisers promising to put Yorkshire talent back in the limelight.

Boasting two world premieres, two major revivals and one new play kicking off its debut tour, the second All Points North festival from Tuesday 3 to Saturday 28 September looks set to capitalise on the success of the first, with more plays and more breadth showcasing even more "Yorkshire brilliance."

Northern Broadsides returns, premiering The Grand Gesture, another social comedy and fresh Yorkshire company Rich Seam Theatre presents the premiere of Royal Flush, a new Nick Lane comic play about Yorkshire-born loo hero Thomas Crapper. Renowned playwright and Yorkshire institution John Godber revives Teechers, his classic look at education, and Reform Theatre brings Stand, David Bown’s comedy of manners and football, back onto the pitch. Finally, brand new troupe Elemental Theatre Company takes Sarah Wallis’s The Rain King on its first ever tour, kicking off in our Studio.

Northern Broadsides associate director Conrad Nelson and playwright Deborah McAndrew once again team up to bring their trademark brand of Northern inventiveness, humour and original music to the stage with The Grand Gesture from Friday 6 to Saturday 21 September at Harrogate Theatre, a freely adapted take on Nikolai Erdman’s 1928 satire, The Suicide. 

Regarded as one of the finest plays to come out of Communist Russia, The Suicide was banned during the Stalinist era, and its author deported to Siberia for his depiction of the worth of the individual equalling – and in fact increasing – that of the community.

Simeon Duff is unemployed, broke and desperate. After a failed last-ditch attempt to solve his problems by learning to play the tuba, he finally realizes there’s only one way out… suicide. Word gets around and soon the whole community wants in on his act.

Nick Lane, the man behind hit comedies Housebound, My Favourite Summer and Me And Me Dad, is back with Royal Flush from Tuesday 3 to Saturday 7 September at Harrogate Studio Theatre, a brand new play about toilets, brought to life by Rich Seam Theatre and starring Matthew Booth.

It’s a play of two parts: the first is set in 1882 when, after years of inspiration, innovation and occasional idiocy, Thomas Crapper is given the commission to provide toilets for Queen Victoria. In an old people’s home 130 years later, toilet cleaner Joe has the job of a lifetime on his hands as he gets all the lavs ready for a Diamond Jubilee royal visit.

No stranger to Nick Lane’s plays, Harrogate Theatre associate company Reform Theatre originally performed David Bown’s award-winning Stand in 2003 and this revival ten years later (Thursday 12 to Saturday 21 September, Harrogate Studio Theatre) demonstrates the play’s timeless themes of love, friendship and football. Phil and Kev religiously attend United’s tedious matches, but are starting to wonder why.

John Godber is probably one of Yorkshire’s most recognised playwriting sons. Almost equally well-known, his 1985 play Teechers, which puts the education system under the microscope, remains hugely relevant and popular today. The John Godber Company revival of Teechers is directed by Harrogate Theatre’s former artistic director Hannah Chissick (Harrogate Theatre, Tuesday 24 to Saturday 28 September).

Elemental Theatre Company is a fresh-faced troupe with a host of bright ideas. Its first production is The Rain King (Wednesday 25 to Saturday 28 September, Harrogate Studio Theatre), a play about survival by Sarah Wallis, who got her first break as part of West Yorkshire Playhouse’s So You Want To Be A Writer? project. Arriving in sub-Saharan Africa, gap-year student and part-time Elvis impersonator Aidan has with him his principles, his broken heart and his Elvis costume. As Aidan searches for belonging and peace, others search for comfort and water and it seems everyone has a secret to hide.

Further information and ticket details are available at

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