Royal and Derngate Northampton Subscription Season Launch

So we had the launch party for the Royal and Derngate’s Subscription Season in the Royal theatre last Thursday evening. Great to whet your appetite for what the Royal’s got coming up for the year. Artistic Director Laurie Sansom introduced various directors and performers who will be on stage during the year ahead and it was a tantalising concoction.

The Years BetweenThe first thing they’ve got planned is The Years Between by Daphne du Maurier which sounds like it will be a meaty experience; Kate Saxon the director and two members of the cast spoke enthusiastically about their rehearsal process and it certainly made me look forward to the play, as it isn’t one with which I am familiar at all.

Diary of a NobodyDiary of a Nobody was next, and Robert Daws read an amusing extract from the play. It’s being directed by the same guy who directed Travels with my Aunt last year and that was a very inventive and lively production, so this should be good too. I miss Aunt Augusta’s tweets. She was a bit of a girl, really.

In Praise of LoveIn Praise of Love is a 1970s Rattigan play with which I am not familiar, but it sounds like it will be very promising. I enjoyed seeing his last play Cause Celebre in 1977 so I’m well aware he’s not just a 1930s/40s kind of guy, although those early plays are very entertaining too. “Il a des idées au-dessus de sa gare”. I’m all for more Rattigan. Bring it on.

Hamlet the MusicalI’m very much looking forward to Hamlet the Musical; we had a song from Hamlet himself, and if it is anything to go by, this should be a complete hoot. I’m not concerned about being a Shakespeare purist, I’m sure the original tragedy will survive this show. I met Hamlet afterwards, he didn’t entirely blend in with the rest of the crowd wearing his Comedy Dane outfit but I thought he was a thoroughly decent chap going by the name of Jack Shalloo and I’m sure he will deliver a palpable hit.

Eden EndEden End is the next show, a J B Priestley play, again one I’ve not seen, and I don’t think I would normally jump at the chance to see it, but I am confident that it will be ace as it is directed by Northampton’s very own Laurie Sansom. I’ve had a quick flick through my copy of the play and it seems fine on first sight. My favourite Priestley play is Dangerous Corner and I learned at this launch that Mr S has directed that play previously too, so that’s good enough credentials for me.

Two Gentlemen of VeronaIt’s a long season isn’t it. We’re now looking ahead to autumn. Two Gentlemen of Verona being performed by RashDash, a physical theatre company. They weren’t there on the night but we saw a video of them at work and it looks fascinating. I couldn’t quite see yet how their style would suit the Two Gentlemen but I like the idea of its being staged in modern Milan with models and catwalks. We’ll have to see.

The Go-BetweenThe last of the series is The Go-Between; one of my favourite films. This is now conceived as a musical which made me slightly nervous, because the only music that I associate with it is Michel Legrand’s haunting film soundtrack. However, one actor whose name I regret I didn’t catch, came forward and sang a song from it, and it wouldn’t have been out of place in Sondheim’s Company – intricate and delicate. I have high hopes.

So I’m predicting (and indeed hoping for) a year of more ups than downs.

I was trying to think of what I would like to see in a “fantasy” Royal subscription season. I’d like to see Laurie Sansom do some Pinter as he is so good at getting the best out of a complete ensemble. The Birthday Party would be a treat. I thought some Orton would also be good. I can imagine a farcical and daring production of What the Butler Saw on the Royal stage. Actors from 2009’s Ayckbourn season would be great doing that. I’d never seen any Eugene O’Neill until 2009’s Beyond the Horizon but I read all his plays when I was a teenager and I’d love to see a production of Mourning Becomes Electra. I’m sure the R&D could do it. I’d also love to see a revival of Peter Nichols’ Poppy but the Royal is probably a bit small for that. Lots more ideas bubbling under the surface of my brain, but I’ll stop boring you now.

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