Park Theatre not sheepish about provocative spring season

PARK THEATRE

Dead Sheep, the debut play from broadcaster Jonathan Maitland, which sheds new light on Geoffrey Howe’s historic speech that brought down Margaret Thatcher, is one of the highlights of the Park Theatre’s spring programme.

Starring Thatcher’s Spitting Image impressionist Steve Nallon and directed by Ian Talbot, it is the true story of how Mrs. Thatcher, the most divisive Prime Minister of modern times, was felled by her one time friend and political soul mate.

The staging of Dead Sheep, a drama tinged with tragedy and comedy, coincides with the 25th anniversary of Howe’s assassination and its themes – loyalty, love, political morality and Britishness – are as relevant today as they were a quarter of a century ago.

Other highlights of the Park200 programme include the world première of Avaes Mohammad’s Hurling Rubble which investigates contemporary twenty-first century British extremism.

And completing the line-up is the world première of Contact.Com, Michael Kingsbury’s comedy exploring the world of internet dating and the European première of Brad Fraser’s Kill Me Now.

The Park90 season features a rare British production of Bryony Lavery’s multi Tony award-nominated Frozen, John Cariani’s off-Broadway hit Almost, Maine, and the world première of Alex McSweeney’s real life story of the First World War East London munitionettes Out of the Cage.

Park’s artistic director, Jez Bond, said: “It’s hugely exciting to announce the spring 2015 season – featuring three world premières and a European première.

“The Park200 spring programme is full of bold, adventurous, provocative work and, particularly excitingly, our co-production with Red Ladder, Hurling Rubble, a double-bill from Avaes Mohammad, of which I will direct one of the plays.

“Also in the run up to the General Election, we will host Jonathan Maitland’s Dead Sheep – which sees Steve Nallon take on the mantle of Thatcher again in this timely première.

“Park90 further cements its reputation as a hotbed for new, emerging, experimental theatre-makers, featuring some of the most thrilling writers from these shores and around the world.

“In addition to the core work on stage, we will be extending our education and outreach work with a special project around Hurling Rubble.

“It’s an exciting time for the theatre. We are also delighted to have recently been nominated for the Peter Brook Empty Space Award.

“It’s testament to the small and dedicated team that we have come so far in just eighteen months, and we look to build on this to secure Park Theatre’s future at the forefront of London’s theatre scene.”

Park200 starts the new year with the comedy Contact.Com, directed by Ian Brown, which explores the pitfalls of internet dating.

It is followed by the funny and moving Kill Me Now, Brad Fraser’s ode to the triumph of the human spirit.

Jonathan Maitland’s debut play, Dead Sheep, is set in 1989 and a seemingly invincible Prime Minister has sacked Geoffrey Howe, her Foreign Secretary.

She apparently had nothing to fear from him: his speaking skills had, famously, been compared to those of a dead sheep.

But inspired by his wife Elspeth – whose relationship with Thatcher was notoriously frosty – Howe overcame his limitations to destroy Mrs Thatcher with one of the great political speeches.

Hurling Rubble At The Moon and Hurling Rubble At The Sun is a double-bill of plays, performed in repertory, that deliver the untold story behind contemporary British Extremism following the Twin Towers disaster, from writer Avaes Mohammad.

Muswell Hill. Photos by Boris Mitkov.

Park90 welcomes Torben Betts’ comedy of ill manners, Muswell Hill, which transfer from Kennington’s White Bear Theatre, where it won widespread acclaim earlier this year (see Stage Review’s verdict bit.ly/1vhxEjf).

An earthquake in Haiti leaves a hundred thousand people dead and almost two million homeless but it’s given scant regard in a leafy north London suburb where six individuals sit down to a dinner party from hell.

Almost, Maine by John Cariani, a play about real people who are really, truly, honestly dealing with the toughest thing there is to deal with in life: love.

Alex McSweeney’s Out Of The Cage is based on the munition women of Silvertown, London, during the First World War and tells the story of women’s courage, dignity and hope, fired in the crucible of conflict.

Frozen is a profound and hypnotising drama about the moral and emotional effect of murder on both the perpetrator and his victims.

Bryony Lavery has laid bare the horror of a child taken before their time and the aftermath that those left behind must deal with.

Dylan Costello’s The Glass Protégé is a powerful drama about the money, image and power obsessed ‘Hollywood machine’.

Skin In Flames is an award-winning political thriller about a famous photojournalist who returns to the country where his career was launched during a brutal civil war.

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