The Mercury premieres new British musical, Pieces of String • York Theatre Royal presents adaptation of Graham Greene’s thriller Brighton Rock • Auditions open for young people’s production of Treasure Island • winner of the Mercury Playwriting Prize, Oliver Bennett’s Europe After The Rain, comes to the Studio Theatre • Babe, The Sheep-Pig thrills families throughout July and August, and much more!
With a new season that especially seeks to bring new work to Colchester, the Mercury’s Spring / Summer season is brimming with fresh, innovative and inspiring new voices.
Our first Made in Colchester of the season is Tim Luscombe’s latest adaptation of a classic novel, Turn of the Screw. Luscombe is well-known for his recent adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma and Northanger Abbey, which toured to high acclaim in 2017.
Set in 1840, a young governess agrees to look after two orphaned children in Bly, a seemingly idyllic country house. But shortly after her arrival, she realises that they are not alone. There are others – the ghosts of Bly’s troubled past. The Governess will risk everything to keep the children safe, even if it means giving herself up to The Others. Decades later, confronted by the past she is compelled to revisit the terrifying events of 1840 and account for what actually happened to her and the innocents under her protection.
This fresh, thrilling adaptation of Henry James’ much-loved and genre defining classic ghost story, Turn of the Screw, lets you draw your own conclusions about the events at Bly and where guilt resides. The original inspiration for Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black and numerous films, Turn of the Screw is thought-provoking, moving and above all terrifying. Stylish, edge of your seat theatre!
In April, the Mercury teams up with TBO Productions to present Pieces Of String, a new British musical from Gus Gowland, developed by Perfect Pitch.
When Jane returns from her father’s funeral to start clearing the house she grew up in – packing away the family photographs, closing a chapter – she isn’t prepared for the untold story she’s about to discover threaded through her past, a story that threatens to unravel her relationship with her own children and shake her understanding of who she is.
A new musical set simultaneously in the 1940s and in the present day, Pieces Of String tells how Jane’s father, Edward, came back from the Second World War with a secret that would change his life forever – a secret that he would carry until the day he died.
With hauntingly beautiful music and a heart-rending human story, Pieces Of String is a tender, funny, emotionally-charged exploration of how three generations of one family learn to deal with a story that nobody’s been brave enough to tell until today. Times may have changed but some battles still need to be fought.
2017 saw the announcement of the Mercury Playwriting Prize winner as Oliver Bennett’s Europe After The Rain, a comedy about immigration, globalisation, love and loss in the wake of the EU referendum that visits our Studio Theatre in the Spring.
Imagine. The USA has pulled out of NATO and refugees from the Ukraine are flocking into Western Europe; while, on a ‘fake beach’ somewhere in Middle England, Will, Max, Yana and Marta are gathered to find out whether the unfolding general election is really going to put a populist party into power and change their lives forever. Europe After The Rain is a highly theatrical and hugely funny exploration of what waking up in a post-EU Britain might feel like.
In May, the Mercury Studio once more plays host to a young people’s production and this year the stage is set for Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark and stormy tale, Treasure Island. Auditions will be held in February and full details are available on the Mercury’s website.
Over in the Main House, actress Imogen Stubbs stars in a new play by Jonathan Guy Lewis, The Be All and End All. Presented by York Theatre Royal and the Mercury Theatre, this is a world premiere directed by Damian Cruden. Further ahead, spectacularly funny comedy The Play That Goes Wrong returns to the Mercury for another raucous week of award-winning chaos.
Throughout the season, there is also a host of live music, talks, community performances and dance, as well as a broad selection of family shows include The Gruffalo’s Child, Tiddler, Sarah & Duck and our very own Made in Colchester production of Dick King-Smith’s classic, Babe, The Sheep-Pig. Multi-Olivier Award nominee Sophie-Louise Dann (Mrs Lovett, Sweeney Todd, 2016) also returns to the Mercury for a special Mercury Rising fundraiser.
Daniel Buckroyd, Artistic Director, said:
“Over the coming months we’re delighted to present a season that’s jam-packed with a host of familiar faces alongside some fantastic new shows ‘Made in Colchester’. Here at the Mercury we really believe in championing new work, and so this year we’re thrilled to be premiering Tim Luscombe’s new adaptation of Turn Of The Screw, Gus Gowland’s heart-warming new musical, Pieces Of String, and Oliver Bennett’s post-EU comedy, Europe After The Rain, winner of the 2017 Mercury Playwriting Prize.
“We also continue to support the next generation of Essex theatre making talent through the Make It programme, including our Early Career Training Programme, Associate Artist Scheme, Youth Theatres and much more. Shortlisted for the prestigious The Stage Regional Theatre Of The Year Award 2017, the Mercury really is becoming the place to see the very best new work, so we hope you’ll join us to try something new this year.
“Finally, a big thank you to everyone who supported us in 2017 – we look forward to seeing you at the Mercury again soon!”
Tickets went on priority sale to Friends of the Theatre at 10 am on Wednesday 29 Nov and general sale at 10am on Wednesday 6 Dec.