Artistic Director Paul Hart, Executive Director Claire Murray and the team at Newbury’s The Watermill Theatre announce the programme of work from February to July 2023, a season with one major revival and four new adaptations that explores the deep joys and troubling complexities of life on our shores.
The season begins with a brand-new adaptation of Bill Bryson’s smash-hit memoir Notes From A Small Island, affectionately celebrating the quirks and eccentricities of British life., adapted by Tim Whitnall (Morecambe – West End, Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett Story – BBC4), directed by Paul Hart, designed by Katie Lias, and in association with Simon Friend Productions, Notes from a Small Island will run from Friday 3 February until Saturday 18 March.
The Watermill Youth Ensemble return with an adventurous reimagining of Lewis Carrol’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, adapted by Writer in Residence, Becca Chadder (The Poison Belt – Jermyn Street Theatre, Cabildo – Wilton’s Music Hall). The Watermill Youth Ensemble is a diverse group of talented local performers who take part in The Watermill’s weekly programme of activities for young people. Featuring captioning, audio description and integrated BSL, Through The Looking Glass will run from Thursday 23 to Saturday 25 March.
This is followed by the first major UK revival of Barney Norris’s award-winning portrayal of learning to live and love with dementia, Visitors, set in his beloved rural Wiltshire. Also directed by Barney Norris (The Wellspring– Royal and Derngate, Nightfall – The Bridge Theatre), Visitors will run from Friday 31 March to Saturday 22 April.
The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher, based on the best-selling novel by Kate Summerscale and adapted for the stage for the first time by playwright Alexandra Wood (Silence – Donmar, Wild Swans – Young Vic) will run from Friday 5 May to Saturday 10 June. A dramatic tale of real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher is the original Victorian whodunnit.
The season ends with a brand-new co-production with acclaimed Zimbabwean company Two Gents (The Moors – Tara Theatre, Kupenga Kwa Hamlet – The Watermill and UK tour), which explores connections to New World Slavery in Jane Austen’s classic novel Mansfield Park. An outdoor production touring first to rural locations in Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire, Mansfield Park – directed and adapted by Tonderai Munyevu and Arne Pohlmeier – will complete its run at The Watermill gardens, from Wednesday 28 June to Saturday 8 July.
Artistic Director Paul Hart said, “In this diverse combination of work we’re reinventing how we see ourselves as we explore and celebrate the life and history of our nation. With Bill Bryson’s acerbic observational wit, Notes from a Small Island invites us to see the UK afresh from the viewpoint of a critical friend, while in the topsy turvey world of Through the Looking Glass the relatable young Alice finds reality in absurdity. We’re ripping up Mansfield Park in collaboration with Two Gents Productions, uncovering buried conversations in a much-loved classic text. A brand-new production of Visitors takes on new resonance post pandemic as we assess the damage to individual lives and the impact on the care system, and domestic extremes are explored further in the first ever stage adaptation of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher which delves into a fascinating murder in Victorian England which led to a national outcry.”