Deena Payne Steps in For Linda Nolan In Our House

Deena Payne Steps in For Linda Nolan In Our House


Actress and singer Deena Payne is to join the UK Tour of OUR HOUSE, following the unfortunate withdrawal of Linda Nolan. Having previously been announced in the role of Kath Casey in the Olivier Award-winning Madness musical, Linda Nolan has withdrawn from the tour following her recent cancer diagnosis. Deena Payne, best known for her role as Viv Hope in ITV’s Emmerdale, will take up the role of Kath Casey along with newly announced cast members Jason Kadji (Joe Casey) and Sophie Matthew (Sarah).


On the night of his 16th birthday, Joe Casey takes the girl of his dreams, Sarah, out on their first date. In an effort to impress her with bravado, Joe breaks into a building site overlooking his home on Casey Street. When the police turn up, a split-second decision forces him to choose between himself and his heart as the story splits in two: one which sees Joe stay to face the music, and the other which sees him flee and leave Sarah to run from the police. As two very different paths unfold before him, the consequences of that choice will change his life forever.

Sophie Matthew, Jason Kadji & Deena Payne (l-r) in Our House 399. Photo by Adam Trigg.jpg

Deena Payne is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Viv Windsor in ITV’s Emmerdale, a role which she played for eighteen years. Having begun her career as a dancer on stage and TV, she went on to work extensively in musical theatre: Cabaret, Only in America (the Roundhouse Chalkfarm), Who’s a Lucky Boy (Manchester Exchange), One Careful Owner, (tour) and the original West End production of They’re Playing Our Song (Shaftesbury Theatre). Following her departure from Emmerdale in 2011, Deena went on to play three tours of Tim Firth’s critically acclaimed stage adaptation of Calendar Girls.


Deena said: “My thoughts are with Linda, and we all send her lots of love at this very unsettling time. Though I know she’d want the madness to continue, and I’m thrilled to take on the challenge. Great songs, brilliant story – a real fun-loving musical!”


Taking a starring role as Joe Casey, Jason Kajdi is currently appearing as Ernest (and first cover for Bert) in the international stage tour of Mary Poppins. His other theatre credits include West Side Story (Kilworth House), 27: The Rise of a Falling Star (The Cockpit) and the European premiere production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 21 Chump St. (From Page to Stage 2016).

Sophie Matthew makes her professional stage debut in the role of Sarah, having previously starred as Ginny in Channel 4’s critically acclaimed drama series Humans. Her theatre credits include Fast Film Noir (TheSpace, Edinburgh Festivals) and Magic of the Musicals (Royal Albert Hall, 2016 & 2017).

OUR HOUSE was first staged at the Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End from October 2002 to August 2003 and won the 2003 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. This tour will be directed by Immersion Theatre’s James Tobias and choreographed by the resident choreographer of Matilda The Musical, Fabian Aloise.


OUR HOUSE UK 2017 Tour Dates

Thursday 10 – Saturday 12 August

01270 368242

Crewe, Crewe Lyceum                                                                                             


Monday 14 – Saturday 19 August

0114 249 6000

Sheffield, Lyceum                                                                                                     


Tuesday 22 – Saturday 26 August

01492 872000

Llandudno, Venue Cymru                                                                                       


Tuesday 29 August – Saturday 2 September

01934 645544

Weston-super-Mare, The Playhouse                                                                  


Tuesday 5 – Saturday 9 September

01507 613100

Skegness, Embassy Theatre                                                                                  


Monday 11 – Saturday 16 September

01684 892277

Malvern, Festival Theatre                                                                                      


Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 September

01424 462288

Hastings, The White Rock Theatre                                                                      


Tuesday 26 – Saturday 30 September

0844 871 7648

Glasgow, King’s Theatre


Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7 October

01792 475715

Swansea, Swansea Grand Theatre                                                                      


Monday 9 – Saturday 14 October

01253 625252

Blackpool, Winter Gardens                                                                                    


Monday 16 – Saturday 21 October

01262 678258

Bridlington, The Spa Bridlington                                                                           


Tuesday 24 – Saturday 28 October

020 3285 6000

Bromley, Churchill Theatre                                                                                    


Monday 30 October – Saturday 4 November

023 9282 8282

Portsmouth, Kings Theatre


Wednesday 8 – Saturday 11 November

024 7655 3055

Coventry, Belgrade Theatre                                                                                   


Tuesday 14 – Saturday 18 November

Weymouth, Weymouth Pavilion                                                                           


Monday 20 – Saturday 25 November                                                                      01494 512 000

High Wycombe, Wycombe Swan                                                                          


Nuclear War, Royal Court Theatre

Nuclear War, Royal Court Theatre

In his playtext introduction, Nuclear War writer Simon Stephens talks about the tyranny of authorial intent, sharing the responsibility of interpreting the text amongst the cast, and “kicking the shit out” of what’s been written to produce something like a true artistic collaboration; a licence to free associate on paper and on stage. This long Pseuds’ Corner entry, roughed up with a little swearing to vouchsafe the author’s edgy credentials, transfers to the performance, talk of entropy and existential angst peppered with asides on fucking, the playwright’s word. Orgasm negates death, we learn. But what’s really been negated here is intellectual coherence.

At the end of Nuclear War we’re left with a circle of bricks, some tea cups, a plant, the last of someone’s digestive biscuits, and a lot of questions. Bewildered faces, bored faces, solemn faces; that’s the audience’s contribution to this collaborative interpretation. What was this fifty-minute trawl through one sombre woman’s id (Maureen Beattie) actually about? Is the titular war just a metaphor for anomie, dislocation, the fag-end of mortality and psychological desolation? Or might the landscape of her troubled mind be a reaction to a literally devastated environment – one in which the species is indeed under threat, hence the need for all that fucking? Where a taunting chorus dress in black, as though burned, and the artefacts of a broken civilisation litter the scene – bricks, the last of the food, overturned furniture, old china.

We don’t know and can’t know. Instead, Imogen Knight’s production invites us to sample the mood, imbibe the nightmarish atmospherics, reel from the hallucinogenic sound and lighting, and submit to the performance’s  appropriation (play seems a strong word) of troubled cognition – a world of ideas and ponderables, rather than anything passé like thematic coherence and characterisation.

Nuclear War’s a spectacle; a study in anxiety that produces some vivid tableaus. But this is the kind of show that’s done to you, rather for than for you. The staging means blindspots for choosing a seat in the wrong part of the studio, but it hardly matters. You’re either going to get off on lines like, “the balletic possibility of embarrassment” and other cliché overkill like “kiss my eyelids”, or you’ll be decidedly unmoved.

Stephens might have added something like a narrative to anchor all this philosophic reflection and voiding of emotions, but one suspects that would have narrowed interpretation, liberating critical reaction. “I don’t want to talk about themes and content” he writes in the aforementioned introduction. One can see why.

The Jurassic Parks returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe along with two brand new shows

The Jurassic Parks returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe along with two brand new shows

The Jurassic Parks is an updated version of the sell-out, multi award-winning, laugh-out-loud spin on Spielberg’s classic. Welcome to the unlikely setting of Lyme Regis Community Centre, where the Park Family – Terry, Jade and Noah – embark on a journey to a misty past. Where, when things go wrong, family feuds are faced with the rapturous roar of DIY dinosaurs. A theatrical celebration of cinematic nostalgia and a moving reminder of the ones we love.


Mars Actually is Superbolt’s brand new show, fresh from sell-out previews and winning the Origins Award for Outstanding New Show at VAULT Festival 2017. By the light of the Sun, By the gaze of the moons, We stand together. As red planet dwellers, Wiser for the errors, Of our Earthly ancestors. With truth, love and care, We breathe without air. Chuck, Gracey and Conway are here on Earth to tell you about life on Mars, Actually.


The Producer and Director team behind these two shows also bring you Mental, a show about one son’s exploration into his mum’s mental health. At a time when mental health is increasingly making the headlines, yet still so many are unable to speak about their experience for fear of stigma, this show tells a personal story that will get people talking.


Superbolt Theatre’s Artistic Directors and Performers are Maria Askew, Frode Gjerløw and Simon Maeder. Their work tours internationally, with Dinosaur Park recently playing at Adelaide and Melbourne Festivals, followed by an extensive UK tour. Past productions include Centralia, Piatto Finale and The Uncanny Valley.




Venue:  Assembly Roxy, Upstairs, 2 Roxburgh Place, EH8 9SU (Venue 139)

Time:  19:00
Running Time: 65mins

Age Guidance: PG

Dates: 2 – 27 August, playing in rep with Mars Actually. Preview 2 August.

Tickets: Preview £8; 4, 6, 10, 15, 17 & 23 August £10 (£9); 8, 12, 19, 25 & 27 August £12 (£11).

Bookings:, 0131 623 3030 or Assembly box offices at Assembly Hall and Assembly Roxy, Assembly George Square and Assembly Checkpoint

Web:  Web:  Twitter: @superboltplays
Facebook: /superbolttheatre




Venue:  Assembly Roxy, Upstairs, 2 Roxburgh Place, EH8 9SU (Venue 139)

Time:  19:00
Running Time: 65mins

Age Guidance: PG

Dates: 3 – 26 August, playing in rep with The Jurassic Parks. Preview 3 August.

Tickets: Preview £8; 5, 9, 16, 22 & 24 August £10 (£9); 7, 11, 13, 18, 20 & 26 August £12 (£11).

Bookings:, 0131 623 3030 or Assembly box offices at Assembly Hall and Assembly Roxy, Assembly George Square and Assembly Checkpoint

Web:  Web: Twitter: @superboltplays
Facebook: /superbolttheatre




Venue:  Assembly Roxy, Downstairs, 2 Roxburgh Place, EH8 9SU (Venue 139)

Time:  17:05
Running Time: 60mins

Age Guidance: 14+

Dates: 2 – 27 August. Previews 2-3 August. No shows Mon 14 and Mon 21 August.

Tickets: Previews £8; 4-6, 9 & 10, 15-17 & 22-24 August £10 (£9); 7 & 8, 11-13, 18-20, 25-27 August £12 (£11).

Bookings:, 0131 623 3030 or Assembly box offices at Assembly Hall and Assembly Roxy, Assembly George Square and Assembly Checkpoint

Web:  Web:   Twitter: @thementalshow
Facebook: /thementalshow


Pleasance announce Edinburgh Fringe 2017 line up

Pleasance announce Edinburgh Fringe 2017 line up

On Thursday, 20th April Pleasance Theatre Trust announces 132 more shows on sale with an array of exciting newcomers and Festival favourites highlighting the pages of Edinburgh Fringe 2017 programme.

max-and-ivanThe Comedy programme welcomes back to the Pleasance Great British Bake Off host and a celebrated comedian Sue Perkins, Live at the Apollo and Frankie Boyle’s Autopsy star Sara Pascoe along with the Pleasance and Max and Ivan’s sell-out, Edinburgh Comedy Award-winning spectacular The Wrestling. Following the remarkable success of I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach’s latest film, its award-winning star Dave Johns brings his stand-up comedy back to the Pleasance. His last show was in the Pleasance Attic in 1999!

Joseph Morpurgo returns with a hotly anticipated follow-up to his Edinburgh Comedy Awards-nominated 2015 smash hit, and comedy legend Richard Herring celebrates the 30th anniversary of his first Fringe with his 40th show in his 50th year (alive). Older and wiser? Or just older?

Comedy A-listers such as Nick Helm, Pippa Evans, Doug Anthony All Stars, Dane Baptiste, Gary Delany and Matt Forde are also back at the Pleasance this August as is, for the third time, James Acaster, five times Edinburgh Comedy Awards nominee! James brought his last three shows to the Pleasance (Recognise, 2014; Represent, 2015; Reset, 2016) and has since taken TV by storm, having appeared in everything from Live at the Apollo to Have I Got News for You to Mock of The Weekdoug_anthony_allstars_h_0814.0faff86b4e224b7bc1b055d1e8a092ea

Deanna Fleysher’s alter-ego Butt Kapinski presents a show at the Pleasance following her (his?) successful run at the Adelaide Fringe. Also, Adam Riches is back after his five-star sell-out 2015 show with all new material: The Inane Chicanery of a Certain Adam GC Riches.

Among the Pleasance debuts, this year is three great double acts: The Death Hilarious, Welsh comedy duo, Sisters: White Noise and Great British Mysteries, a live mockumentary investigating monsters, myths and Noel Edmonds. Also making their debut is Tom Lucy who supported Jack Whitehall on tour, going solo for the first time from sketch double act Watson and Oliver – Ingrid Oliver, Phoebe Walsh of the cult sketch group Oyster Eyes, Darren Harriot,who has appeared on Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central and brilliantly astute British-Kurdish comedian Kae Kurd.

In the Theatre programme, Cardboard Citizens come to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time with a legislative theatre version of Cathy, following their one-off theatrical re-staging of Ken Loach’s seminal work Cathy Come Home at the Barbican last July and a successful forum theatre tour last autumn. Bristol-based Wardrobe Ensemble bring their new show Education, Education, Education, marking their Pleasance debut!

The Theatre programme also presents a couple of outstanding shows supported by Hull UK City of Culture 2017, including A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) written by Jon Brittain. Charlie Hartill Special Reserve Fund-supported theatre show Flesh and Bone by Unpolished Theatre also makes its Fringe debut this year at the Pleasance and graduates of the Pleasance’s “XYP” scheme Incognito Theatre return with their sell-out 2016 show All Quiet on the Western Front.

20th April sees four more shows go on sale as part of the British Council Showcase: Girls, Home, Plan B for Utopia and Testosterone. Pleasance also welcomes Sapiens, a new show from the Pit Theatre which is directed by David Byrne, the artistic director of the New Diorama Theatre. Worklight Theatre, who won a Fringe First award for their show Labels in 2015, come back to the Pleasance with a new production, Monster.

Theatre Ad Infinitum, celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, bring their critically-acclaimed shows Translunar Paradise and The Odyssey back to Edinburgh Fringe.

The Scottish Drama Training Network (SDTN) and Pleasance Theatre Trust have developed a new initiative to support Acting, Performance and Technical Theatre graduates from Scotland’s Colleges and Higher Education Institutions as they make the transition from training to industry. The initiative will see a new show produced for the Pleasance’s Fringe programme every year. This year’s production is Snowflake, directed by Mark Thomson, former Artistic Director of the Lyceum Theatre Company. More details to follow soon!

The Children’s programme includes Tall Stories presenting their Future Perfect: can Dominic change the past and make his future perfect? This is Tall Stories’ second show on sale, joining a musical adaptation of one of the best-loved books in The Gruffalo’s Child.

Anthony Alderson, Director of the Pleasance said: “The Pleasance programme this year is truly spectacular, the work on show the very best. For seventy years the Festival Fringe has been a window for some of the greatest artists in the world. This year the Pleasance programme stands up alongside the very best of those.”

Earlier this year the Pleasance Theatre Trust announced the celebration of 33 years at Venue 33 (Pleasance Courtyard) through a commission of a brand new type of mobile venue. From an initial innovative concept created by Triple E the final pop-up 120 seat-capacity ‘Project 33’ is a design collaboration between Triple E and The Pleasance. The Venue will launch at the ABTT (Association of British Theatre Technicians) Theatre Show in June before going on to host eight shows a day at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as the all new Pleasance Beside. Following the festival, the structure will move to the Pleasance in London where it will form a new rehearsal and performance space.

Performers taking advantage of the new space include Bennan Reece, Angela Barnes, Tez Ilyas, Rose Matafeo and the Free Association with JACUZZI.

Keep up to speed with us on social media:

@ThePleasance #ThePleasance

Ripe, Theatre Utopia

Ripe, Theatre Utopia

Divergent Theatre’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Hand Maid’s tale isn’t just timely but a look at modern fertility, patriarchy and what the role of the outsider has and may become.

Victoria Sheldon stars and writes this 45-minute piece about Mischa (Kate Gwynn, who is also producer), a young refugee who has been promised citizenship (and an escape for her family in her war torn sector) if she can conceive a child for the fertility centre’s clients. When she is chosen by the The Count (Jason Plessas) and Countess of Spence (Victoria Grace/Sheldon)to carry their child her future seems assured.

The story also looks at Rachel (Rashida Amanda), who is yet to be chosen as a carrier, a factor she blames on her race. Initially seeming a vivacious character it soon becomes clear that Rachel has a lot to hide and lot to lose if she doesn’t manage to conceive.

It is a piece very sympathetic to females in the story but doesn’t paint the men as villains, despite their power to make or break these women. Plessas’s Count is vile, in denial about his own fertility problems he has no qualms about abusing his power but is never portrayed as a cartoon villain, he is simply a man in a world that acknowledges women’s infertility constantly but men’s problems are never discussed.


Jamal Chong (who along with Gwynn starred in his production Possibilities at Theatre N16 last year) and Alexander Tol star as Drs Alex Yousaffi and Mark Stewart. Stewart is character, who appears to care for his clients and maybe cares too much to keep his clinic going and Yousaffi is the forgetful, sycophantic doctor whose care doesn’t extend beyond the rich clients.

If the audience familiarity with the original material puts them off seeing this production then it shouldn’t, it gives a very 21st century take on Atwood’s work without being overtly political or predictable. There are some odd tonal shifts between scenes and some jaunty music after some painful scenes but I particularly enjoyed a lot of scene changes, such as the “insemination scenes”, which are done far more tastefully than that description suggests. It is a strong and enjoyable piece of work, that embraces its short length rather than trying to fill it out with unnecessary scenes. There is some really stunning lighting as well in the small and, as a Croydon resident, mostly unknown space in St Matthew Yard.

Ripe was on at Theatre Utopia, Croydon 13-15 April

Ripe will be at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival ,  21st – 26th August,  theSpace on the Mile, Edinburgh  https://www.edfringe.comTickets/


Guards at the Taj, Bush Theatre

Guards at the Taj, Bush Theatre
A guest post by Jon Norton. You can read the full post, which includes a look at the new Bush Theatre here
The action of the play concerns 2 lowly Imperial guards at the building site of the new Taj Mahal. They get to do the dawn shift, and chatter aimlessly about their duties and the Emperor’s grand design. It happens that the great man has decreed that the 20,000 workers who created the masterpiece (including the brilliant architect Ustad Isa) must have their hands cut off, so that no work of comparable beauty can be created to rival it. He made this decree after Isa had the impudence to request that the workers be allowed to fully inspect the fruit of their 16 years of labour. Our 2 heroes have to perform the job, as they get all the worst jobs. We don’t see it happening, just their shock as they have to clean up afterwards, which deepens as the cosmic injustice of it all weighs on their consciences.
The show held everyone’s attention, although the cross-talk of the 2 “grunts” was not especially deep or amusing. At times it seemed they were working as a standard Clever One/Stupid One double act, but this wasn’t consistent. The interludes of speculation about a future of aeroplanes and space travel were rather forced. Sound effects and lighting were used smartly, there was no attempt to project or imply the nearby presence of the Taj Mahal and it wasn’t needed.

The Society for Theatre Research Theatre Book Prize

The Society for Theatre Research Theatre Book Prize

On 2 May 2017,  Richard Eyre will announce the winner of Theatre Book Prize at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.Previous winners include David Weston, for his memoir Covering McKellen, Ian Kelly’s Mr Foote’s Other Leg, which was adapted for Hampstead Theatre, Richard Eyre’s National Service and Daniel Rosenthal’s epic National Theatre Story.

The prize was established to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Society for Theatre Research which was founded in 1948 and to encourage the writing and publication of books on theatre history and practice, both those which present the theatre of the past and those which record contemporary theatre for the future.  First awarded for books published in 1997, it is presented annually for a new book on British or British related theatre which an independent panel of judges considers to be the best published during the year. Play texts and studies of drama as literature are not eligible. The judges are drawn from theatre professionals, theatre critics, theatre academics and archivists, with a chairperson from the committee of the Society for Theatre Research.


Juggling Trajectories: Gandini Juggling MXMXCI – MMXV by Thomas J M Wilson (Gandini Press)

London’s West End Actresses and the Origins of Celebrity Charity, 1880-1920 by Catherine Hindson (University of Iowa Press)

Nobody Knows but Everyone Remembers by Mark Long (People Show)

Shakespeare in Ten Acts by Gordon McMullan & Zoe Wilcox (British Library Publications)

Stage Managing Chaos: A Diary of the Old Vic Production of Fernando Arrabal’s The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria by Jackie Harvey and Tim Kelleher (McFarland)

Theatrical Unrest: Ten Riots in the History of the Stage by Sean McEvoy (Routledge)

The Judges

Nichola McAuliffe, actress, director and author

Aleks Sierz critic, academic and author

Cathy Haill Victoria & Albert Museum Theatre Collections curator and author.

For information about the Society for Theatre Research and the Theatre Book Prize (with a full list of books entered in 2016) and previous winners see