From powerful theatre to top comedy, there's much to enjoy...
The Matchgirls, St Andrew’s Church, Luton, May 17 to 19
In 1888, the London Matchgirls working at the factory of Bryant and May, made history when they went on strike. This action was taken by young women who faced poor wages, heinous fines for trivial misdemeanours and the very real possibility of death from ‘phossy jaw’, a kind of cancer caused by working with white phosphorus. With the help of social reformer Annie Besant, they eventually won their battle, forcing Bryant and May to change its policies and improve the lives of their workers. Their success sparked the modern Trade Union movement. The show was written in the 1960s by comedy actor and writer, Bill Owen, with music by songwriter, Tony Russell. Despite the subject matter, the musical emphasises the positive mentality and natural ebullience of the so called ‘Cockney Sparrows’ leading to plenty of cheerful and entertaining numbers. The production is presented by St Andrew’s Players, directed by Malcolm Farrar with choreography by Sarah Albert and with Emily Wright as chorus mistress.
One -Woman Sex and the City, Grove Theatre, Dunstable, May 23
Some 20 years ago, four single ladies emerged on to television screens in search of love and cosmopolitans. Sex and the City went on to secure a place in the hearts of millions all around the world.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the show, and the 10th anniversary of the first film, director TJ Dawe and performer Kerry Ipema have crafted a show with all the laughs, puns, heartache and cosmopolitans that promise to captivate audiences both of the original show and those new to the world of Carrie and the girls.
Kerry said: “I hope people can expect to laugh and have a good time. I hope to create an environment that’s very similar to the girl’s brunches. There’s a lot of drinking, there’s a lot of fun, there’s a lot of laughter, and I like to source a lot of material from each audience, so each show is different and each show is hyper personalised to each individual audience. But I think you can expect from the show to laugh a whole lot, hopefully so much that your belly hurts, and to leave feeling empowered.
“I want women to walk away feeling like they can do whatever they want in this world.”
Happy Jack, The Little Theatre, Dunstable, until May 19
A comical and touching play about the 60-year marriage of a couple in West Yorkshire is taking to the stage, courtesy of Dunstable Rep. Happy Jack is written by the celebrated playwright, John Godber, and is inspired by his own grandparents and their relationship through good times and bad.
The play tells the story of this working class family with snippets of their lives together: the love, sadness, anger, joy and conflict.
Balancing humour with some tougher realities, the play highlights the lives of working miners and the terrible legacies that many of them were left with long after leaving the pits.
The British Theatre Guide said of the play: “There’s a truthful, timeless quality to this little piece of Yorkshire’s social history that isn’t showing its age at all.”
Chris Ramsey Live, Grove Theatre, Dunstable, May 22
The critically-acclaimed and award-winning stand-up comedian, host of his own show on Comedy Central and Celebrity Juice regular, brings his new show to Dunstable.
The Comedy of Errors, TADS Theatre, Conger Lane, Toddington, until May 19
The intimate atmosphere at the TADS Theatre is just right to bring the Bard’s famous words alive. Director Sue Sachon – also a Shakespeare scholar – is on a mission to make his works accessible. This early play is full of action and energy and mistaken identities. “It’s basically a Shakespearean farce’, says Sue, “but, as ever, with a bit of a twist that makes it memorable.” It’s suitable for families and children, as there’s a fair bit of slapstick humour and a colourful story. Sue added: “In the past, we’ve had people come along to watch who have ‘hated doing Shakespeare at school’, and they’ve gone away having completely changed their minds.”