Production Information for
71st Season - 2012/2013

Note: Performances at 7.30pm with no performances on Sunday or Monday except where stated.

18 September -29 September 2012
No Sex Please, We're British
by Anthony Marriott and Alistair Foot

First performed  1971

4 female, 6 male

This is a traditional and well known farce, set in the more innocent world which existed before the internet became widely available. It originally featured Michael Crawford in one of his early comedy roles. The plot revolves around an assistant bank manager, Peter Hunter, who lives above his bank with his new bride Frances. When Frances innocently sends a mail order off for some Scandinavian glassware, what comes back is far more than she bargained for - Scandinavian pornography. The newly-weds, along with the bank's frantic chief cashier Brian Runnicles, must decide what to do with the veritable floods of pornography, (photographs, books, films and eventually even girls) that threaten to engulf the happy couple. The matter is considerably complicated by the presence of Eleanor (Peter's mother), Mr. Bromhead (his boss), Mr. Needham (a visiting bank inspector), and Vernon Paul (a police superintendent). Needless to say, the play gambols along at a fast pace, with the action becoming inextricably tangled, before its eventual resolution. This play requires a box set, but presents no particular technical challenges

15 - 20 October 2012 in the STUDIO (Mon - Sat )

Contractions by Mike Bartlett

First performed 2008

2 female

This play deals with the power that employers can exert over the private lives of their employees. A female manager asks a young female employee into her office for a chat. She reminds her that her contract forbids any romantic relationship between staff. Over a series of meetings, the manager winkles out the extent of the employee’s relationship with a colleague, so that no aspect of her privacy is left intact if she wishes to keep her job. The play is sharp and funny, but takes the employer/employee relationship to the brink of 1984.

The American Dream by Edward Albee

First performed: October 1961;

3 female, 2 male

Set in the 1960s in America , in this surreal black comedy Mommy and Daddy are waiting for someone to arrive, possibly to fix the leaking toilet, when Grandma brings in lots of boxes. Mrs Barker arrives, although Mommy and Daddy can’t remember why she’s come. Grandma eventually explains that Mrs Barker is from an adoption society, and has come to sort out a previous placement of a child which went awry. Grandma manages to sort out the problems, making use of a young man who arrives to move her belongings. The writing in this play is sharp and satirical, and explores the myths of the perfect American family, to which the title alludes. Both plays in this double bill have their own internal logic which carries along the audience into the realms of the absurd.

6 - 17 November 2012

Deathtrap by Ira Levine

First performed: February 1978

2 female 3 male

The committees may remember that the Arts Committee first suggested this thriller 2 years ago, but the licence was revoked for amateurs. It has now been released. Just to remind everyone of the plot, the play is set in the home of thriller writer Sidney Bruhl. The action centres around the play “Deathtrap”, a new thriller by unknown dramatist Clifford Anderson, which he has sent to Sidney for comment. Without a success to his credit for some years, Sidney plots with his reluctant wife Myra about how best to plagiarise “Deathtrap” and pass it off as his own work. When Clifford turns up to discuss the play, events take a sinister turn. Sidney and Clifford act out a particularly gruesome murder in front of Myra , who does not realise it is faked, and suffers a fatal heart attack. “Deathtrap” is revealed as an ingenious means of murdering Myra , and Sidney and Clifford settle down to apparent domestic bliss, fooling even Sidney ’s lawyer Porter Milgrim into believing their relationship is just employer and employee.  However, Sidney ’s plans take an unexpected twist when Dutch clairvoyant Helga ten Dorp begins to experience disquieting vibrations, and Clifford decides that “Deathtrap” has a plot which is far too good to waste…….

The set for this play is quite simple, but the props need to be realistic-looking weapons, some of which are used in the murders. The cast would need to be able to stage convincing fights!

21 December 2012 -5 January 2013
Matinee Performances starting at 2.30pm - December, 5 January 2013
Evening Performances starting at 7.30pm - December, 4, 5 January 2013

The Gingerbread Man by David Wood

First published ……Previously performed at Highbury 1993/94

2 female, 4 male

In order to have a break from the pantomime format this year, we are suggesting a return to a more traditional children’s play, “The Gingerbread Man” by David Wood. The words to the songs are given in the play, and the music is available. Although this has been performed at Highbury before, it is 20 years ago, so we don’t think that this will affect audience attendances.

The cuckoo in the kitchen clock has to sound out the time every hour, but he is getting hoarse with the effort. The salt and pepper pots try to help him, but it is the newly baked gingerbread man who agrees to go up to the top dresser shelf to try to get some honey to sooth his throat. However, the top shelf is where Tea Bag the witch lives, and she is fearsome. The gingerbread man manages to get the honey, but Sleek the mouse has designs on eating him if he can. The Big People see Sleek, and put down some poison, which gets on the honey, and the cuckoo becomes ill. Eventually, the gingerbread man persuades Tea Bag to help them, and they all outwit Sleek to ensure a happy ending. 

The set will need to feature everything in a giant form, as the characters live on the kitchen dresser. However, the set remains constant throughout, so no changes are necessary.

5 - 16 February 2013

Bouncers by David Godber

First performed 1983

4 male

Its Friday night, it’s disco night, and time for the Bouncers to come on duty. In this hilarious parody of the 1980s disco scene, four bouncers portray over twenty different characters, showing us the realities of a night out on the town. We meet giggly girls, lads out on the make, Hooray Henrys, punks and a smooth-talking DJ, all against the tatty, glitzy glamour, flashing lights and pulsating beat of the disco in their desperate hunt for a good time.

Shakers by John Godber and Jane Thornton

First performed 1984

4 female

Every town has its trendy cocktail bar, where everyone wants to be seen, from the check-out girls to the chinless wonders, from the yuppies to the local lads trying to go up market in their hunt for girls. We are given a wickedly funny glimpse of this world by four long-suffering waitresses, offering a fascinating view of the reality that lurks behind the plastic palms and Pina Coladas.

25 February - 2 March 2013 in the STUDIO (Mon - Sat )

Skylight by David Hare

First performed 1995

1 female, 2 male

Kyra is a teacher, living in a top-floor flat that is in great need to doing up. She used to work for Tom and had an affair with him. She was also a friend of Tom’s wife, Alice, who has recently died from cancer. Kyra always said that she would leave if Alice found out about the affair and when that happened, she did.

Kyra is teaching at a problem school – lots of problem children whom she thinks she has a responsibility to help.  Edward, Tom’s son, turns up – they haven’t seen each other for 3 years – he tells her that his mother has died (a year before) and that he has drifted apart from his father and he is worried. Edward wants her to help his father so Edward can understand him and get closer again.

Tom comes to see Kyra, and they discuss why Kyra left after Alice found out about the affair. He tells her about Alice ’s illness, and how he built her a skylight across the roof of her bedroom, where she was bedridden, so she can see the world.  Kyra and Tom end up sleeping together and draw out truths from each other about their different values. Tom presumes that they will pick up their relationship, but Kyra feels they are too far apart, and they part for a second time.

The final scene takes place between Kyra and Edward – the door bell rings and it might, of course, be Tom coming back. It is as if there is a release of tension for Kyra to find Edward on her doorstep – he has brought her a special breakfast from the Ritz. The play ends on the optimistic note that life goes on, despite the misunderstandings between people, even lovers.

12 - 23 March 2013

Flare Path by Terence Rattigan

First performed: August 1942 , last performed at Highbury 1989/90

4 female 7 male

As it is 35 years since Terence Rattigan died, it seemed a good time to revive this very English play. The play is set in the Falcon Hotel, run by Mrs Oakes, a rather severe lady. Peter Kyle is a famous actor, who wants to stay at the hotel overnight. It becomes apparent that he is in love with Patricia, who is now married to Teddy. Doris has married a Polish count, but she is very down to earth, and a great fan of Peter’s. She thinks that Johnny will not want to take her back to Poland after the war. The men are hoping for a night off from the bombing raids, but they are called to go out after all.

As the tension mounts when one of the planes is late back from the raid, we learn that the relationships of the main characters are complex, and involve loyalty and patriotism as well as love. Rather than leaving with Peter. Patricia decides to stay with Teddy, and Doris finds that, after all, Johnny does love her deeply. Although set in the 2nd World War, the play explores the eternal themes of love and how people cope with danger and the prospect of death. It keeps the audience guessing right up to the end, about whether Johnny has survived, and whether Patricia will leave Teddy and run away with Peter. I’m sure our audiences would love this dose of nostalgia.

16 - 27 April 2013

Entertaing Angels by Richard Everett

First performed 2009

4 female, 1 male

As a clergy wife, Grace has spent a lifetime on her best behaviour. Now, following the death of her husband Bardolph, she is enjoying the new-found freedom to do and say exactly what she pleases. This includes being forthright in her opinions to both her daughter, Jo and the new vicar, who much to Grace’s disgust turns out to be a woman, Sarah. However, the return of her eccentric missionary sister Ruth to attend Bardolph’s funeral, together with some disturbing revelations, force Grace to confront the truth about her marriage and her family. . It portrays the difficult decisions that are part of the human condition, and its gentle ending of reconciliation and hope for the future is satisfying. The play was written as a vehicle for Penelope Keith, and you can almost hear her speaking the lines! It is amusing and touching, and amazingly is a new play totally lacking in swear words!

The set might present a bit of a challenge, as the action takes place in a garden with a stream running through it. However, we have risen above such challenges before!

13 - 18 May 2013 in the STUDIO (Mon - Sat )

Dusk Rings a Bell by Stephen Belber

First performed in America in 2009; first performed in the UK in 2011

1 female  1 male

In this play set in America , Molly and Ray meet at Delaware Beach . Ray is a caretaker/gardener, whilst Molly works for CNN. They are drawn to one another, and they gradually realise that they have met before, when they were carefree teenagers. We see the development and then the end of their relationship through a series of conversations and monologues. Each of them is vulnerable; and each has a past that haunts the present. Both of them examine their regrets, as they realise how different their lives might have been. We learn that Ray has been in prison for his involvement in a homophobic murder and in the end Molly  breaks with him, as she cannot come to terms with what he has done. The play ends with the teenaged meeting which strikes a poignant note. Often moving, carefully written and crafted, this is a play of love and lost opportunities, of memories and regret, of burgeoning hopes that are not fulfilled. It does contain a few swear words, but as it will be put on in the Studio, we can forewarn audiences.

4 - 15 June 2013

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

First performed 17th century

4 female, 4 male, 9 unisex characters

In Shakespeare’s comedy of love and marriage, Benedick and Beatrice are engaged in a very "merry war" as they sharpen their wits at each other’s expense, proclaiming their scorn for love, marriage, and each other. In contrast, Claudio and Hero are young people who are in love with each other in a much more conventional way. Claudio is tricked by the scheming Don John into rejecting Hero at the altar, and she is presumed dead as a result of her shame.

Eventually, Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Benedick swears to avenge Beatrice’s cousin. Hero. However, Dogberry and Verges, the bumbling law keepers, discover the evil trickery of the villain, Don John. In the end, Don John is captured, Hero is exonerated and restored to Claudio, and everyone celebrates the marriages of the two couples. As we have so many female players, we envisage changing the sex of some of the traditional male roles, so we could perhaps have females playing Dogberry and Verges. It would certainly give Shakespeare’s classic a new twist!