Park Theatre announces their Spring 2023 season. Headline productions include Clive Anderson starring in Winner’s Curse, an interactive play about a high stakes peace talks written by Dan Patterson (Whose Line is it Anyway) and former Middle East peace negotiator Daniel Taub, directed by AD Jez Bond.
Clive Anderson stars in Winner’s Curse, penned by a former Middle East peace negotiator, boxer Vernon Vanriel brings his story of a bare-knuckle fight for his right to British citizenship after four decades of living in the UK, and activist with cerebral palsy Josh Hepple contributes insights of round-the-clock care to the story of David – gay, disabled and profoundly horny.
Also coming to Park200, Mark Gatiss directs a comedy about a drag ABBA tribute band. In Park90 will be the UK premiere of psychological thriller The Elephant Song along with and an exploration of the fragility of female relationships in The Beach House.
The season opens with the musical drama On The Ropes (6 Jan – 4 Feb): written by Dougie Blaxland and Vernon Vanriel, and directed by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, it tells Vernon’s extraordinary story of arriving in Britain aged six with his family as part of the Windrush Generation and rising to prominence as one of the most charismatic and influential Black British boxers of the 70s and 80s. In 2005, having lived in North London for 43 years, Vernon found himself trapped in Jamaica; homeless, penniless and denied access to medical care for a heart condition. What followed was a prolonged fight with the British Home Office for his right to citizenship. Pulsating with the rhythmic energies of blues, reggae and boxing, On the Ropes is a celebration of how courage, dignity and a fighting spirit can triumph over prejudice and injustice.
Meanwhile in Park90, the UK premiere of Nicolas Billon’s The Elephant Song (18 Jan – 11 Feb) is a psychological thriller fraught with mind games and verbal tugs-of-war. A psychiatrist suddenly disappears from a mental institution. A young patient of the hospital, Michael, is suspected to be involved in his disappearance. Dr. Greenberg, the hospital director, is determined to question Michael, ignoring the head nurse’s cryptic warnings. In a turbulent power struggle with Greenberg, Michael attempts to barter the truth for his potential freedom, with devastating consequences.
Next in Park200, Artistic Director Jez Bond directs Clive Anderson in Winner’s Curse (8 Feb – 11 Mar). Written by former Middle East peace negotiator Daniel Taub and comedy writer/producer Dan Patterson (Mock the Week, Whose Line is it Anyway), Winner’s Curse is a brand-new show that combines humour and audience interaction to take you behind the scenes in high stakes international peace talks. Two countries are locked in battle over a strip of land when a fragile ceasefire provides a chance for peace. Over the negotiating table, cynical diplomats, idealistic peacemakers and meddling mediators try to navigate a perilous path to agreement as the threat of continued conflict looms ever larger.
Shortlisted for the Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize, The Beach House (15 Feb – 11 Mar) is a tender new play that explores the fragility of female relationships as three women grapple with motherhood, sisterhood and distractions. Until a betrayal exposes their secret desires… Moving out of the city to raise their baby, the old house by the sea is supposed to be a peaceful new start for stay-at-home mother and songwriter Liv, and new mum Kate. And then there’s Liv’s sister Jenny who, despite wanting to distance herself from her overbearing sibling, finds herself being drawn back to the beach house. Conceived against an ever-changing coastal backdrop, Jo Harper’s play explores the crisis of becoming a parent, knotted bonds between two sisters and the endurance of love.
A comedy about devotion, desire and dancing queens, The Way Old Friends Do (15 Mar – 15 Apr) is written by Ian Hallard (Michael in The Boys in the Band, Park Theatre/Vaudeville Theatre) and directed by Mark Gatiss. In the late 1980s, two school friends from Birmingham tentatively come out to one another: one as gay, the other as an ABBA fan. Nearly thirty years later, a chance meeting sets them on an exciting new path, and they decide to form the world’s first ABBA tribute band – in drag. Tender and laugh-out loud funny in equal measure, this heartfelt story will appeal to anyone who understands how it feels to be a fan: of ABBA or of old friends. The Way Old Friends Do comes to Park Theatre following a run at Birmingham Rep.
Completing the season, ANIMAL (19 Apr – 20 May) is written by Jon Bradfield, co-writer of Above The Stage’s acclaimed series of queer adult pantomimes, from a story by Jon Bradfield and Josh Hepple, an activist with severe cerebral palsy who has a masters in law and is an equality trainer and a writer-journalist at The Guardian and Huffington Post. ANIMAL follows David, who is gay, disabled and profoundly horny. He can’t eat, drink or shower by himself – let alone the rest. Totally inexperienced, he embarks on a sexual and romantic odyssey. But can David keep it casual whilst also relying on round-the-clock care? ANIMAL won the inaugural Through The Mill Prize (Hope Mill Theatre supported by Jonathan Harvey) and will premiere at Hope Mill Theatre in March; it was also shortlisted in the top five for the Papatango Prize. Everyone is welcome at any performance of ANIMAL: it will be an environment in which people can freely express themselves and experience the show according to their needs.
Throughout the Spring, Park Theatre will continue to host their ever-popular Coffee, Croissant and a Concert. Ostara Chamber Players will be inviting esteemed musicians to join them in an eclectic programme of classical music for one Sunday morning of every month.
Artistic Director Jez Bond said, “We are delighted to be presenting not one, but three in-house productions this season. It’s such a pleasure to welcome Clive Anderson back to Park Theatre as he takes the helm of Winner’s Curse – the new play penned by Middle East diplomat Daniel Taub and television comedy writer, Dan Patterson, and directed by myself. I am as pleased as punch to be giving the incredible tale of North London local lad Vernon Vanriel a crucial voice on our P200 stage with On the Ropes. Plus, we are looking forward to welcoming audiences to see a wonderful new piece of writing from Jon Bradfield and Josh Hepple, ANIMAL, a hilarious and heartwarming story about disability and desire, identity and independence. It’s fantastic to co-produce ANIMAL with the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester – our second collaboration in the past 6 months – and we’re excited to tour the show to a key creative hub in Bristol. We hope these burgeoning connections with venues outside of London are a sign of things to come as Park Theatre marks a very special landmark in May by turning 10 years old. Completing the main stage bill, Mark Gatiss directs The Way Old Friends Do, and we have two remarkable plays in P90 – The Elephant Song and The Beach House. Right now, we’re still riding high after the fantastic success of our opening shows in the Autumn 2022 season, but this is an absolute cracker of a season and I cannot wait.