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Manuel Harlon

Theatre in Oxford: What’s on this April

30 March 2017 | Alice Robinson

It’s the Easter holidays and the students have left Oxford for the month. Savour the city without the non-helmet-wearing, black-tie-dressing cyclists, and enjoy fun fab theatre without the pretentious interval theories about what the scenery signifies.

Easter’s date this year comes slap bang in the middle of the month and many of Oxford’s venues seems to have decided to refrain from producing much new theatre. Three venues, however, have ploughed ahead and made up for it, leaving a veritable smorgasbord of options for families, comedy lovers, and theatre buffs alike. 
 
North Wall

North Wall have an exciting month coming up, with the launch of their festival of new writing for the stage, Alchymy. You can get a three-day pass for entry to all the events for just £25, which includes workshops, industry talks, and, of course, theatre! There are all sorts of offerings on show, but the two we’d recommend are The B*easts and Madonna and Child. The former stars, and is written by, Monica Dolan, of W1A fame, so it’s got some serious acting chops. Madonna and Child meanwhile promises a deep look at the relationship between mother and daughter. Lyn Gardner’s talk is also one to book in for, particularly for any budding arts journalists!

Later in the month, Offside tells the story of four women across the centuries passionate about football. Each girl faces different obstacles, but each pursues the same dream – to use football to change their futures. This promises to be an interesting and unique piece of drama, with an interesting subject matter; definitely worth checking out, especially for those with teenage girls interested in sport, or indeed, finding their own voice in the world.

Alchymy Festival, North Wall Arts Centre
Froot Sahlad, Alchymy Festival, North Wall Arts Centre.

Alchymy Festival runs from 7-9 April. Offside begins on the 20 April. Book tickets on the North Wall Arts Centre website
 
Oxford Playhouse
April is a great month to visit the Oxford Playhouse. If you’re trying to entertain the kids while they’re off school, Fantastic Mr Fox will be playing for four days, complete with live music and songs. One of Roald Dahl’s best stories, the tale of Mr Fox and his family’s outwitting of the evil farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean will entertain children and adults alike. There’s an audio-described performance, a touch tour, and a British Sign Language Interpreted performance, as well as special free ‘lap seats’ for babies under 18 months, so all are welcome! As a bonus, 8-10 year-old wannabe thespians can book into Mr Fox’s Fables, a two-day workshop teaching young people how to use physical theatre to perform Dahl-inspired pieces, with a performance for family and friends on day two. It’s pretty expensive, so be warned, but could be a great way to keep a child entertained, and the perfect companion to seeing the play later in the week.

For even younger theatre-goers, How to Hide a Lion promises family fun, when a young girl has to help an escaped lion find somewhere to hide. Fans of Helen Stephens’ book will love watching Iris try to squeeze and squash her furry new friend into all sorts of sneaky hideouts. It has songs as well, and puppets; and everybody loves puppets! At only fifty minutes long, it’s great for easily distracted or bored kids.

If you desperately need some grown-up time, don’t worry: there’s plenty of serious drama and adult comedy out there too. Headlong are one of the most interesting and exciting theatre companies in Britain at the moment. They’re following up the smash-hit successes of 1984, People, Places, and Things, and This House with a new production of George Bernard Shaw’s classic Pygmalion aka the original My Fair Lady. With their usual boundary-breaking use of technology onstage, their exploration of what a voice can mean in a modern age where voices can be modified at the tap of a button promises to be one of the best things to see this month. There’s also light-hearted adult fun earlier in the month in Abigail’s Party, starring Sherlock’s very own Amanda Abbington. Witness the fourty-year anniversary of Mike Leigh’s dinner party from hell at the beginning of the month and be glad all over again that it’s not you. 


How To Hide A Lion.

Fantastic Mr. Fox runs from 18-22 April, with Mr Fox’s Fables starting on 10 April. How to Hide a Lion is on show on select dates between 12 and 23 April – see the Oxford Playhouse website for further details. Pygmalian runs from 18-22 April, and you can catch Abigail’s Party from 3-8 April. For more details and tickets, see the Oxford Playhouse website.
 
BT Studio

The BT Studio has two stand-out shows on this month. The first is Kieran Hurley’s Heads Up, fresh from an award-winning, sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Recommended for sixteen year-olds and older, it’s an artistic and intense piece of storytelling theatre. It recounts the story of a city “just like this”, the people in that city, just one moment before the end of the world as they – and we – know it. Perfect for theatregoers who enjoy using their imagination, check out the video on the show’s website to get a taster of Hurley’s powerful narration. For those looking for something a little lighter, Letters to Myself is on the next day. This piece of theatre dramatises letters written by real people to their past, present, or future selves, sharing advice, regrets, and memories, both hilarious and heart-breaking. By going on the website, you can even contribute your own letter to the project, and perhaps see it dramatised at some point during the show’s tour.

Heads Up is in Oxford for one performance on the 3 April. Letters to Myself shows on 4 April. Find all the information and tickets on the Oxford Playhouse Website.
 

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