NORTHERN BROADSIDES HISTORY

Since Northern Broadsides was founded by Barrie Rutter OBE in 1992, we have been creating unique performances from our home at Dean Clough, Halifax. Our history spans classical adaptations – with a Shakespearean focus – and new texts from talented upcoming writers. 

Barrie Rutter was inspired to create Northern Broadsides after acting in plays adapted by Tony Harrison for the National Theatre, including The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus and The Mysteries. With the help of some of the Trackers cast, the company was formed. The first Northern Broadsides performance was Shakespeare’s Richard III, and it toured weird and wonderful locations including the Marina Boatshed in Hull, Middleham Castle in North Yorkshire and Bradford’s West Yorkshire Transport Museum. 

To this day, everything we do is inspired by the North of England’s diverse voices, cultures and heritage; bringing the world’s classic and new texts to life with a regional twist. Click on the show titles below to read more about our history; our shows, reviews and more. 

 

PAST PRODUCTIONS

2018 - They Don't Pay? We Won't Pay!

UK Tour 5 Oct – 2 Dec 2018 (Co-Production with York Theatre Royal)

By Dario Fo
A new adaptation by Deborah McAndrew
Based on a translation by Jon Laskin and Michael Aquilante
Directed by Conrad Nelson
Designed by Jessica Worrall
Lighting Design by Douglas Kuhrt

Fast, furious, farcical! The working class fight back in this classic comedy reimagined for Brexit Britain.

★★★★ ‘Fast, furious and very funny, this is farce with fire in its belly’ – The Times

★★★★ ‘Pantomime gags drive home the betrayal of the working class in this deft update of Fo’s comic caper’ – The Guardian

The show opened at York Theatre Royal, from 5th-13th October and then toured to Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford, Hull Truck Theatre, Liverpool Playhouse, New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield, Stephen Joseph Theatre and The Viaduct Theatre, Halifax.

 

2018 - Hard Times

A new adaptation by Deborah McAndrew

Directed by Conrad Nelson
Designed by Dawn Allsopp
Lighting by Mark Howland
Musical Director Rebekah Hughes

The premiere of Deborah McAndrew’s witty new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ great Northern novel of repression and longing Hard Times.

Imagine a world where imagination is forbidden. Coketown is such a place. Thomas Gradgrind will not permit fanciful thoughts in his school or his home. But what effect will this policy have on his own children, Tom and Louisa? How can he protect them from corrupting influences – especially when the circus comes to town?

Dark satanic mills, interrupted by the colour and vibrancy of Sleary’s Circus, set the stage for a sweeping tale of suppressed love, seduction and social mores, peopled with the sharply observed exaggerated characters that Dickens is celebrated for.

Playwright Deborah McAndrew said about adapting the classic tale:

‘I’ve always admired Hard Times – Dickens’ one truly Northern novel. The title is a bit off putting, giving the impression of a story that is relentlessly grim. However, it’s full of all the usual brilliant Dickens characters, and lots of very good jokes. It’s also a life affirming story, and a manifesto against a dry, utilitarian approach to education and human discourse in general.

At his school Mr Gradgrind insists on facts and only facts. His pupils and his own children are not just limited, but psychologically and emotionally damaged by the exclusion of the Arts from their education and their lives. In the 21st Century, with our own education system increasingly focused on a core of fact based subjects at the expense of music, drama and art, this tale seems as pertinent as ever – and Hard Times might just as well be called ‘Our Times’.

Director Conrad Nelson added:

Nestled amongst the charcoal-etched towers of Dicken’s fictional Coketown sit the bold stripes of Ringmaster Sleary’s Gilliam-like circus tent. Hoop-la! It is in this vibrant three-ringed arena that we set our play and where we celebrate life, risk, adventure and the power of imagination.

Audiences will meet the characters below a big top where the flames of a circus fire-eater become the flaming coals of the inscrutable young Louise Gradgrind as she stares into the fire, searching for something within herself that she knows is missing, and where the taught line of the tightrope walker becomes the precarious strand of Stephen Blackpool’s happiness between an ill-advised early marriage and the promise of a future with the true love of his life.

In Deborah McAndrew’s witty and imaginative adaptation, we maintain all the humour and pathos of the original novel, presented with a lightness of touch in a clear and fluent drama.

It might be grim up north in Coketown, but this is a place populated by the most colourful personalities that you’re ever likely to meet. Broadsides’ vibrant performance style and musical verve and wit are best suited to deliver Charles Dickens at his popular best. Northern Broadsides – not for gradgrinds.”

‘top-notch-Broadsides’ – The Yorkshire Post

★ ‘Deborah McAndrew puts an intelligent new slant on a classic novel as Northern Broadsides add extra oom-pah’-The Guardian

 

Hard Times toured to:

The Dukes, Lancaster
Tue 27 Feb – Sat 3 Mar

The Lowry, Salford Quays
Tue 6- Sat 10 Mar

Liverpool Playhouse
Tue 27-Sat 31 Mar

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Tue 4- Sat 14 Apr

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Tue 17– Sat 21 Apr

Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
Wed 2-Sat 5 May

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds
Tue 16- Sat 19 May

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Tue 22- Sat 26 May

 

2017 - For Love or Money

Northern Broadsides present the world premiere of a daft comedy about greed. 

A new adaptation of Lesage’s Turcaret
by Blake Morrison
Directed by Barrie Rutter
Designed by Jessica Worrall
Lighting by Tim Skelly

It’s the 1920s. In a small Yorkshire town, the wily-widow, Rose, entertains the advances of two dubious suitors. Fuller (Barrie Rutter) is a fabulously rich and morally corrupt banker who woos Rose by parading his wealth whilst hiding a few secrets. Handsome Arthur is much younger and deceitful through and through. He plays Rose for as much money as she can take from Fuller.

A love triangle then; a deliciously wicked tale of rivalry and greed. Throw in a bailiff, a drunkard, a vamp, a second-hand clothes dealer and two upwardly mobile servants, and the complications multiply.

Adapted from Alain-Rene Lesage’s savage eighteenth-century comedy Turcaret, Blake Morrison’s For Love or Money is a story of monstrous wealth and whopping lies.

★ ★ ★ ★  ‘Northern Broadsides strike comedy gold’- The Guardian

★ ★ ★ ★  ‘The laughs keep coming in this lively adaptation of an 18th-century French satire’ –  The Times

★ ★ ★ ★  ‘Rutter’s energetic production is skilfully stylised, with in-character entrances to a touch of 1920s jazz, and movement is precise and beautifully judged’ – Whatsonstage

★ ★ ★ ★ Mail on Sunday

★ ★ ★ ★ Yorkshire Post

For Love or Money toured to:

Viaduct Theatre, Halifax
Fri 15 Sept  – Sat 23 Sept

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Tue 26  – Sat 30 Sept

Lawrence Batley Theatre
Wed 11 – Sat 14 Oct

Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds
Wed 18 – Sat 21 Oct

Rose Theatre Kingston
Tue 31 Oct – Sat 4 Nov

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme
Tue 7 – Sat 11 Nov

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Tue 14 – Sat 18 Nov

Liverpool Playhouse
Tue 21 – Sat 25 Nov

York Theatre Royal
Tue 28 Nov – Sat 2 Dec

2017 - Richard III
Richard III celebrates the 25th anniversary of Northern Broadsides and Hull’s status as UK City of Culture 2017. Presented by Hull Truck Theatre, Northern Broadsides and Hull UK City of Culture 2017. Featuring Mat Fraser as Richard III.

Northern Broadsides Artistic Director and Richard III director Barrie Rutter says:

Northern Broadsides and Hull Truck Theatre are thrilled to announce Mat Fraser in the title role of Richard III. He is an actor of scintillating physicality and vocal power. He joins a company of Broadsiders new and old, Hullensians aplenty, and will add his percussion skills to a company well noted for its musical invention. His return to the British stage as Shakespeare’s iconic villain heralds a shivering frisson of excitement.”

Mat Fraser added:

“This fantastic opportunity to play drama’s most famous disabled villain, and to put the visceral reality onstage of a “rudely stamped” actor in the famous character, is made even more exciting by having it be a Northern Broadsides and Hull Truck Theatre production under Barrie Rutter’s forthright direction. The honour of working with all the seasoned classic actors in the cast is one I hope to match with a deep understanding of a life lived differently, combined with a love of this intense violent drama, and joyously delivering the beautiful poetry of Shakespeare.”

Richard III is Shakespeare’s twisted villain who we love to hate as, with ruthless cunning and silver-tongued charm, he stops at nothing to remove brothers, wife, nephews and friends from his path to the throne. He’s surrounded by vengeful ghosts, friends he can’t trust and a terrible curse cast by the old Queen Margaret. In a final battle at Bosworth Field, the bloody feud between York and Lancaster must end at last.

 ‘Mat Fraser proves a brilliant villain for Northern Broadsides’ – The Guardian

‘Broadsides have reclaimed Richard III as their own’ – York Press

 

2017 - Cyrano

By Deborah McAndrew, Directed by Conrad Nelson

Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre joined forces to bring their celebrated musical panache, acclaimed charisma and exuberant performance style to this swashbuckling tale of unrequited love set in the golden age of musketeers.

Paris, 1640. Cyrano de Bergerac, a brilliant poet and swordsman, finds himself deeply in love with his beautiful cousin Roxane. Each day of his life is lived only for her – every poem he writes, every duel he fights.  Despite his dash and his dare, Cyrano is afraid of revealing his true feelings certain she could never love him in return … for who would love a man with such an enormous nose? A delightful evening of pure drama that will lift your spirits and make your heart ache.

★ ★ ★ ★ ‘It’s a production which supplies all the required braggadocio and swagger, but nonetheless displays a nose for the unexpected.’ –  The Guardian

★ ★ ★ ★ “Both heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measure…”  – Reviews Hub

“This classic tale of unrequited love has a big heart to match…” The Sentinel

“Delightful and passionate…” The Stage

“high-energy, swashbuckling, romantic comedy…” – StaffsAlive

“funny, bawdy romp which has exuberance and passion at its core.” –  British Theatre Guide

fabulously witty entertainment” – Express and Star

“This play is another top original from the New Vic and Northern Broadsides and their inspirational creativity will be enjoyed by everyone who sees them on this UK tour.” –  At The Theatre

Cyrano toured to:
Derby Theatre
Tue 16  – Sat 20 May, 7.30pm
Oxford Playhouse
Tue 23  – Sat 27 May, 7.30pm (except Fri 8pm)
The Viaduct, Halifax
Tue 9  – Sat 13 May, 7.30pm
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Tue 25 – Sat 29 April, 7.45pm
Watford Palace Theatre
Tue 7 – Sat 11 March 7.30pm
2016 - When We Are Married

Co-production with York Theatre Royal

Directed by Barrie Rutter
Designed by Jessica Worrall

Cleckleywyke, a town in the West Riding, 1908.
The Helliwells, the Parkers and the Soppitts are highly respected pillars of their community … but not for much longer.

Married on the same day in the same chapel, they gather to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. The celebrations are short lived when they discover the vicar wasn’t licensed and they are actually not married. In fact, they have been living in sin for 25 years.

Watch with mounting glee as the pandemonium switches from horrified social embarrassment to the realisation that they are free from the shackles of long tedious marriages. Home truths are dealt, bullies get their retribution and the hen-pecked are hilariously and most satisfyingly liberated.

J B Priestley’s heartily entertaining northern comedy plays right into the hands of the remarkable Northern Broadsides – a company celebrated by audiences for its charisma, vitality and relish of language.

★ ★ ★ ★ The Daily Mail

★ ★ ★ ★ The Independent

★ ★ ★ ★ The Stage

★ ★ ★ ★ Reviews Hub

★ ★ ★ The Guardian

★ ★ ★ The Times

Sue Devaney is deftly hilarious as the long-cowed Annie Parker – The Times

Kate Anthony is magnificently gorgon-like as the formidable Clara Soppitt – The Times

Rutter himself is splendid as the bibulous snapper Henry Ormonroyd – The Times

“Adrian Hood is highly amusing” – British Theatre Guide

“Northern Broadsides and York Theatre Royal have done an incredible job of producing JB Priestley’s classic comedy When We Are Married.” – State of the Arts

When We Are Married toured to: 

York Theatre Royal
Fri 9 – Sat 24 Sept, 7.30pm
Matinee: Sat 24th 2.30pm

Hull Truck Theatre
Tue 27 Sept – Sat 1 Oct, 7.30pm
Sat matinee: 2pm

Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds
Tue 4 – Sat 8 Oct, 7.30pm
Matinees: Wed 2pm & Sat 3pm

Rose Theatre Kingston
Tue 11 – Sat 15 Oct, 7.30pm
Matinees: Thu & Sat 2.30pm

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Tue 18 – Sat 22 Oct, 7.30pm
Matinees: Thu 1.30pm & Sat 2pm

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Tue 25 – Sat 29 Oct 7.30pm, Thu 7pm
Matinees: Thu 1.30pm & Sat 2.30pm

Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Tue 1 – Sat 5 Nov, 7.45pm
Matinees: Thu & Sat 2pm

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme
Tue 8 – Sat 12 Nov, 7.30pm
Sat matinee: 2.15pm

Liverpool Playhouse
Tue 22 – Sat 26 Nov
Evenings: 7.30pm (except Wed)
Matinees: Wed 5.30pm, Thu 1.30pm & Sat 2pm

The Viaduct Theatre, Halifax
Tue 29 Nov – Sat 10 Dec, 7.30pm
Sat matinee: 2.30pm

 

2016 - The Merry Wives

By William Shakespeare, a Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre co-production

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9U0hxKxDdQc 

Sir John Falstaff is past-his-prime and skint!

Vain rogue that he is, he attempts, rather clumsily, to seduce a couple of well-to-do wives … but Mistress Page and Mistress Ford get wise to his plan and scheme to exact revenge with hilarious and unimaginable consequences.

If you like your Shakespeare light, funny and wickedly entertaining then look no further. The Merry Wives is bursting at the seams with verbal fun, physical comedy and a bevy of cunningly colourful characters.

Northern Broadsides’ distinctive charisma and zest for performance squeezes every last ounce of comedy gold from this affectionately calamitous tale that will tickle your funny bone and poke a jovial finger in the eye of middle England.

★ ★ ★  – The Guardian

★ ★ ★  ‘Sprightly comic revenge romp with a northern voice’ – The Stage

York Press

The Merry Wives toured to:

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme
Fri 5 – Sat 27 Feb

Viaduct Theatre, Halifax
Tues 1 – Sat 5 March

Hull Truck Theatre
Tue 8 – Sat 12 March

The Lowry, Salford
Tue 15 – Sat 19 March

Rose Theatre Kingston
Tue 22 – Sat 26 March

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Wed 6 – Sat 16 April

Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Tue 19 – Sat 23 April

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Tue 26 – Sat 30 April

Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
Wed 4 – Sat 7 May

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
Tue 10 – Sat 14 May

York Theatre Royal
Tue 17 – Sat 21 May

Liverpool Playhouse
Tue 24 – Sat 28 May

2015 - The Winter’s Tale

By William Shakespeare

UK Tour:  Premiered at Harrogate Theatre from 18-26 September, then toured until 28 Nov 2015.

For the first time Conrad Nelson directs and appears in a Northern Broadsides production.

We returned to the works of Shakespeare with a daringly theatrical and heartbreakingly human new staging of Shakespeare’s tale of reconciliation, love and forgiveness – The Winter’s Tale. The play opens on New Year’s Eve in 1999, the Millennium bells ring out with hope for the new century. But a lower, ominous note underscores these festivities.

What follows is a beautiful and beguiling love story where the cold hand of winter gives way to the brightness and vibrancy of spring. This will be the first time in our 23 years old history that we will have staged The Winter’s Tale,  Shakespeare with vigour, live music, song and dance.

“Conrad Nelson’s powerful performance as Leontes is matched in the mastery and magic realism of his direction” The Stage

“It’s worth noting too the musicianship on offer here, proving the multi-faceted aspect of Northern Broadside’s talented ensemble. They deserve great credit and this play will surely go well over the next months as it begins a national tour.” – Whatsonstage

“A joy to watch” – Yorkshire Post

★ ★ ★ ★ The Guardian

★ ★ ★ ★ The Independent

★ ★ ★ ★ The Stage

★ ★ ★ ★ Whats On Stage

★ ★ ★ ★ Yorkshire Post

 

The Winter’s Tale toured to: 

Harrogate Theatre
Fri 18 – Sat 26 Sept

Oldham Coliseum
Tue 29 Sept – Sat 3 Oct

Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds
Tue 6 – Sat 10 Oct

Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
Tue 13 – Sat 17 Oct

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Tue 20 – Sat 24 Oct

Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Tue 27 – Sat 31 Oct

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme
Tue 3 – Sat 7 Nov

The Dukes, Lancaster
Tue 10 – Sat 14 Nov

Liverpool Playhouse
Tue 17 – Sat 21 Nov

Viaduct Theatre, Halifax
Tue 24 – Sat 28 Nov

2015 - King Lear

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jonathan Miller
Designer Isabella Bywater
Lighting by Guy Hoare

Directed by Jonathan Miller, King Lear starred our then Artistic Director Barrie Rutter in the lead role. 

He was joined in the cast by Manchester Theatre award winner Catherine Kinsella (Rutherford & Son) as Cordelia; John Branwell (Arrival and Departures, Stephen Joseph Theatre)as Gloucester; Al Bollands as Edmund; Andy Cryer (The Last train to Scarborough, Stephen Joseph Theatre) as Cornwall; Fine Time Fontayne ( Othello, Northern Broadsides and Eugene Clelland in Coronation Street) as The Fool; John Gully (War of the Roses, Northern Broadsides) as Albany; Josh Moran as The King of France and the Old Man; Nicola Sanderson (Tis Pity She’s A Whore, Cheek by Jowl) as Regan; Helen Sheals (Mrs Wigan in Downtown Abbey and The Jungle of Cities, Arcola Theatre) as Goneril; Andrew Vincent (Close the Old Coalhouse Door, Oldham Coliseum) as Kent; Jos Vantyler (Flying into Daylight, Live Theatre) as Oswald; Jack Wilkinson (Larisa and the Merchants, Arcola Theatre) as Edgar, Al Bollands as Knight/Soldier and Rikki Hanson-Orr as Knight/Messenger.

The production is designed by Isabella Bywater, who has worked regularly with Jonathan Miller, as well as productions for Nicholas Hytner, Deborah Warner and Lucy Bailey. Lighting was designed by Guy Hoare (The Seagull, Headlong Theatre and Rutherford & Son, Northern Broadsides).

The Observer –  “Jonathan Miller’s production is revelatory”

The Stage – “Barrie Rutter’s performance as King Lear excels under the creative clarity of Jonathan Miller’s direction in another triumphant tour de force for Northern Broadsides”

The Guardian  – “Barrie Rutter’s fine Lear fits perfectly into Miller’s conception of a play in which domestic conflict acts as a metaphor for a larger national crisis.”

King Lear
Spring 2015 Tour Dates

The Viaduct, Halifax
Fri 27 Feb – Sat 7 March

Hull Truck Theatre
Tue 10 – Sat 13 March

Theatre Royal, Bath
Tue 17 – Sat 21 March

Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Tue 24 – Sat 28 March

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Wed 8 – Sat 18 April

Stephen Joseph Theatre – Scarborough
Tue 21 – Sat 25 April

Liverpool Playhouse
Mon 28 Apr – Sat 2 May

The Lowry, Salford Quays
Tue 5 – Sat 9 May

York International Shakespeare Festival
University of York, Heslington East Campus
Tue 12 –Sat 16 May

Rose Theatre, Kingston
Tue 19 – Sat 23 May

New Vic Theatre – Newcastle-under-Lyme
Wed 27 May – Sat 13 June

2014 - She Stoops to Conquer

By Oliver Goldsmith


Directed by Conrad Nelson

Designer Jessica Worrall
Lighting Designer Mark Howland
Musical Director Rebekah Hughes

It’s the 18th century.

Town and country, old and new collide at Mr Hardcastle’s ancestral home – the shabby and unchic Liberty Hall. Confined  within these provincial walls the excessively coiffured Mrs Hardcastle pines for the cultural polish of The Capital.

Enter the good looking and eligible Young Marlow – potential suitor to the quick witted and resolute Miss Kate Hardcastle. He is a man – hopelessly tongue tied with toffs and positively improper with plebs. She is a woman – sharp, sassy and in complete control.

So when he is duped into believing that Liberty Hall is a country inn, and mistakes Kate for a lowly barmaid what could possibly go wrong…?

Set around the chaotic proceedings of one very long night, Northern Broadsides’ talented cast of actor-musicians bring their theatrical magic and innate sense of fun to this accessible and delightfully ludicrous romantic romp. Be prepared for wit, wingding and very big wigs.

Directed by Conrad Nelson, the She Stoops to Conquer cast featured Jon Trenchard (A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Swallows and Amazons, Bristol Old Vic and A Government Inspector, Northern Broadsides) as Tony Lumpkin ; Lauryn Redding (An August Bank Holiday Lark, Northern Broadsides) as Miss Neville; Guy Lewis (Twelfth Night, Regent’s Park) as Hastings;  Alan McMahon (Wind in the Willows, Birmingham Repertory Theatre) as Servant and other role; Howard Chadwick (A Government Inspector, Northern Broadsides) as Mr Hardcastle;  Gilly Tompkins (Brassed Off, York Theatre Royal, Octagon Theatre and the Touring Theatre Consortium and Rutherford and Son, Northern Broadsides) as Mrs Hardcastle; Oliver Gomm (The School for Scheming, Orange Tree Theatre) as Young Marlow;  Andrew Price (1984, Northern Broadsides) as Sir Charles Marlow; Hannah Edwards (Inherit the Wind, New Vic, Stoke) as Miss Harcastle; Andrew Whitehead (An August Bank Holiday Lark, Northern Broadsides) as Diggory. Other roles will be played by Robert Took (Don’t Shoot The Messenger, Mikron Theatre).

The production was designed by Jessica Worrall (We are Three Sisters, Northern Broadsides with Lighting by Mark Howland (An August Bank Holiday Lark, Northern Broadsides) and music by Rebekah Hughes (The Grand Gesture, Northern Broadsides).

“Outrageously hilarious as ever, Northern Broadsides excels once more with its quintessentially Northern wit and wackiness”  The Stage

“joyous production” What’s on Stage

“This 1773 comedy about mistaken identity is over the top but its preposterous humour is delightful”  The Guardian

“It’s a magnificent ensemble cast”   The Stage

She Stoops to Conquer toured to:

Viaduct Theatre, Halifax
29 August – 6 September

Dukes Theatre, Lancaster
9-13 September

Rose Theatre Kingston
16 – 20 September

Oxford Playhouse
23 – 27 September

Harrogate Theatre
30 September – 4 October

Everyman Cheltenham
7 – 11 October

Theatre Royal Winchester
14 – 18 October

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
21 – 25 October

West Yorkshire Playhouse
28 October – 1 November

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme
4 – 15 November

Liverpool Playhouse
18 – 22 November

York Theatre Royal
25 – 29 November

Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
2 – 6 December

The Lowry, Salford
9 – 13 December

2014 - An August Bank Holiday Lark

by Deborah McAndrew

a new play by Deborah McAndrew, directed by Barrie Rutter

An idyllic summer in 1914 rural Lancashire. Excitement is building for the Wakes week and the annual Rushbearing Festival with its singing, courting, drinking and dancing. The looming war barely registers…

An August Bank Holiday Lark is a gentle , deeply-moving drama poised at the tipping point between peace and war. Intensely nostalgic and emotionally rich, it entertains and rips the heart-strings.

Through the lens of traditional, rural life we follow the colourful and charming stories of people as they move from exuberance and touching naivety to a profound and devastating loss of innocence.

★- The Guardian ‘This lyrical, beautifully constructed first world war drama is a reminder not only of lives lost, but of the traditions that made those lives worth living ‘

The Stage – Writer Deborah McAndrew skilfully captures the language and logic of the period with this play’

★-The Telegraph‘Deborah McAndrew’s poignant, warm-hearted drama gives a fresh approach on the centenary commemorations of the First World War’

An August Bank Holiday Lark toured to:

New Vic, Newcastle under Lyme
7 February to 1 March

The Dukes, Lancaster
4 to 8 March

The Viaduct, Halifax
11 to 15 March

LBT
18 to 22 March

York Theatre Royal
1 to 5 April

West Yorkshire Playhouse
8 to 19 April

Stephen Joseph Theatre
22 to 26 April

Liverpool Playhouse
29  to 3 May

Watford Palace Theatre
6  to 10 May

Oxford Playhouse
13 to 17 May

Derby Theatre
20 to 24 May

Everyman Cheltenham
27 to 31 May

Rose Theatre Kingston
3 to 7 June

Oldham Coliseum
10 to 14 June

 

2013 - The Grand Gesture

By Deborah McAndrew
Freely adapted from The Suicide by Nikolai Erdman
Directed by Conrad Nelson
Designed by Dawn Allsopp
Lighting by Mark Howland
Musical Director: Rebekah Hughes

Simeon Duff is unemployed, broke and desperate. His wife works. He’s lost all self esteem.
He’s on the scrap heap and wants to end it all … and so begins this brilliantly insane comedy about a man on the edge.
When word gets out that Duff is going to top himself, a host of ne’er-do-wells crawl out of the woodwork, each wanting to claim his grand gesture for their ‘noble cause’. Let’s face it, why waste a death? But which cause shall it be … love, politics, religion, or the rising price of fish? Will the disillusioned Duff go through with it? Watch and see … the suspense will kill you, if you don’t die laughing first.
Conrad Nelson directs a large cast of actor musicians in a riotous evening of comic mayhem and exquisite farce, complete with a gypsy band and heavenly choir. Think Rising Damp meets Father Ted.
 
“A stunning production” The Stage (on The Canterbury Tales, directed by Conrad Nelson)
Northern Broadsides in partnership with Harrogate Theatres toured to:

Harrogate Theatre
6-21 Sept at 7.30 (Mat: 14 & 21 Sept at 2.30)

Theatre Royal Winchester
24-28 Sept at 7.30pm (Mat: 26 Sep at 1.30pm & 28 Sep at 2.30pm)

Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
1-5 Oct at 7.45pm (Mat: 3 & 5 Oct at 2pm)

Dukes Theatre, Lancaster
15-19 Oct at 7.30pm (Mat: 17 & 19 Oct at 2pm)

Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
22-26 Oct at 7.30pm (Mat: 26 Oct at 2.15pm)

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme
29 Oct-9 Nov (Mat: 2 & 9 Nov at 2.15pm – No performance on 11 Nov)

Liverpool Playhouse
12-16 Nov at 7.30pm (16 Nov at 5.30pm; Mat: 14 Nov at 1.30pm & 16 Nov at 2pm)

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
19-23 Nov – (Mat; 21 Nov at 1.30pm & 23 Nov at 2.30pm)

Viaduct Theatre, Halifax
26-30 Nov at 7.30pm (Mat; 30 Nov at 2.30pm)

2013 - Rutherford & Son

Rutherford & Son by Githa Sowerby

Edited for Northern Broadsides by Blake Morrison

Directed by Sir Jonathan Miller and designed by Isabella Bywater
Rutherford & Son starred the company’s then Artistic Director Barrie Rutter in the lead role of John Rutherford.

★★★★ The Guardian

★★★★ The Times

★★★★ Daily Telegraph

★★★★ whatsonstage

Rutherford & Son is again a must-see, worth-debating event. – The Daily Telegraph (Dominic Cavendish)

Miller’s production is beautifully attentive to the play’s richness of ideas and complexity of moods – Daily Telegraph (Dominic Cavendish)

Barrie Rutter was born to play the role of Rutherford – The Guardian (Alfred Hickling)

A superb production – WhatsOnStage (Michael Coveney)

Your father is a control freak The family business is a millstone round your neck Home feels like a prison And yet you have dreams

This powerful drama written and set in the North of England, 1912, is an unflinching portrayal of an industrial Edwardian family on the brink of collapse. John Rutherford is a tyrannical patriarch, blind to the hopes and feelings of his family. The success of the family-owned glass works, Rutherford & Son, takes precedence over everything … even happiness.
In a household run on fear cracks begin to appear. The emotional pitch builds up like a pressure cooker. The dramatic voltage intensifies as Rutherford’s absolute authority is challenged and a catastrophic family mutiny begins to unfold, threatening to destroy his world and his factory.Ranked by the National Theatre as one of the Top One Hundred Plays of the Century, there are few dramas as deeply human, uncompromising and immediately rewarding as this. Northern Broadsides, directed for the first time by the renowned director Sir Jonathan Miller, bring its trademark gritty, no nonsense performance style to this astonishing play that sees Artistic Director, Barrie Rutter, taking the role of the imperious John Rutherford.

“One of the nation’s most acclaimed and fiercely intelligent directors.”   BBC NEWS

“One of the top one hundred plays of the century.”  National Theatre poll

Rutherford & Son toured to:

The Viaduct Theatre, Halifax
8th to 16th February

The Dukes, Lancaster
19th to 23rd February

Oxford Playhouse
26th Feb to 2nd March

Hull Truck Theatre
5th to 9th March

New Vic, Newcastle under Lyme
12th to 16th March

The Rose, Kingston upon Thames
19th to 23rd March

Watford Palace Theatre
26th to 30th March

West Yorkshire Playhouse
2nd to 13th April

The Lowry, Salford
16th to 20th April

Stephen Joseph Theatre
23rd to 27th April

Theatre Royal Winchester
30th April to 4th May

Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford
14th to 18th May

Liverpool Playhouse
21st to 25th May

York Theatre Royal
28th May to 1st June

2012 - A Government Inspector

Adapted by Deborah McAndrew from the original play by Nikolai Gogol

In a small Pennine town a mysterious stranger is mistaken for a government inspector. Fearing discovery of their corrupt goings-on, the town’s unscrupulous councillors attempt to ingratiate themselves. Bribes, backhanders and brown envelopes abound and the young chap, who has an eye for a quick buck, takes full advantage with hilarious results.

Director and composer Conrad Nelson said about the play “Deborah McAndrew’s contemporary English vernacular version of Gogol’s classic Russian play is set in a small northern town, geographically and culturally remote from the centre of government… This adaptation is created to incorporate a live brass band score, evoking traditional values of honest labour and community. The warmhearted music is a moral counterpoint to the shady racketeering of the town’s inhabitants – in particular the Leader of the Council, Tony Belcher.

“Gogol was aiming high when he wrote The Government Inspector. With his wonderful, grotesque characters and surreal comedy he wanted to seek out darker truths about the human spirit. McAndrew’s A Government Inspector goes beyond literal translation, but is absolutely faithful to Gogol’s stated intention to peel away the surface layers of ordinary people and expose the corruption beneath.

“Bringing Gogol’s timeless work to the stage, this new exuberant production will integrate live brass band music with outrageous characters and rollicking comedy to create a fantastical fable for our time.”

The York Press Review – ‘Well worth inspecting’

★ The Guardian – ‘Where there’s muck there’s brass. And where there’s involvement from Northern Broadsides, there will probably be a fairly strong brass’

British Theatre Guide – ‘this is a fine production that cares deeply about the message behind its exuberant comedy.’

 

2012 - Love's Labour's Lost

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Barrie Rutter

Take four dashing young men. Add a vow of celibacy. Throw in a handful of beautiful young women… and wait for the sparks to fly!

Northern Broadsides celebrated its 20th anniversary year with a delicious comedy that entertained and delighted. Romantic, mischievous and filled with youthful exuberance, Love’s Labour’s Lost fizzed like bubbles in a champagne glass.

Barrie Rutter directed a charismatic cast of 17 multi-talented northern actors who literally filled the stage in this fast-paced battle of the sexes. In true Broadsides’ style there was rousing song and dance, scintillating performances, jaw-dropping comic timing and hilarious ‘steal-the-show’ scenes.

WHAT THE PRESS SAID:

‘gorgeous’ – ★ The Daily Telegraph

‘This production deserves to be playing to a full house every night’. ★ The Public Reviews

‘This is a clear, visually graceful version’. ★ The Guardian

‘Catherine Kinsella’s flinty flirty Rosaline makes this a rom-com worth believing in’. ★ The Times

‘Love’s Labour’s Lost is a delight’. British Theatre Guide

Love’s Labour’s Lost toured to:

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme
Friday 27th January – Saturday 18th February

The Dukes, Lancaster
Tuesday 21st February – Saturday 25th February

The Viaduct, Halifax
Wednesday 29th February – Saturday 10th March

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Monday 12th March – Saturday 17th March

Buxton Opera House, Buxton
Thursday 29th March – Saturday 31st March

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Tuesday 3rd April – Saturday 14th April

The Lowry,  Salford
Tuesday 17th April – Saturday 21st April

York Theatre Royal, York
Tuesday 1st May – Saturday 5th May

2011 - We Are Three Sisters

Against the backdrop of a dark, remote northern town, three remarkable young women live their lives brightly. Haworth 1840’s; in a gloomy parsonage where there are neither curtains nor comforts, Charlotte, Anne and Emily Bronte light up their world with outspoken wit, aspirations, dreams and ideas. And throughout their confined lives intensely lived…. they write.

Anyone who has read a Bronte novel cannot fail to be stirred by their overwhelming humanity, charged emotion and brooding, prescient unease with the status quo. Now come to know the voices behind them.

With exquisitely drawn characterizations, a nod to Chekhov and a touch of poetic licence, We Are Three Sisters is a pearl of a play which evokes with piercing clarity the life and distinct personalities of these three spirited individuals.

Reviews
“…funny, beautiful and beguiling”

★ The Independent “From Haworth with wit, irony and love. This play should enjoy a long, celebrated existence.”

★ The Daily Telegraph “Rutter’s production captures the robust humour of three strong-willed Yorkshire women”

★ The Guardian “Such condensed, seeming simplicity..a hallmark of Northern Broadsides. A finely tuned piece” – The Observer

“Broadsides is an ideal match for (Chekhov’s) play…Rutter directs with deftness”
Financial Times “a production that transfixes the mind and melts the heart”

★★★Yorkshire Post

“Rutter’s fine production brings out excellent performances”

We toured from 9 – September to 26 November
The Viaduct Theatre, Dean Clough, Halifax
The Lowry, Salford
The Dukes, Lancaster
The Tobacco Factory, Bristol
The Lighthouse, Poole
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
The Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond
Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme
The Rose, Kingston
York Theatre Royal

 

2011 - Hamlet

Northern Broadsides in partnership with New Vic Theatre

by William Shakespeare

Nicholas Shaw delivers a mesmerising performanceThe Stage

A guaranteed audience pleaserThe Stage

Nicholas Shaw is the undoubted starThe Stage

Nicholas Shaw (as Hamlet) is wonderfully supported by a strong cast, notably Becky Hindley as the tragic Gertrude and Fine Time Fontayne as a dominating and complex ClaudiusThe Stage

This is a high-energy, absorbing production of which the Bard himself would have been proudThe Stage

Conrad Nelson’s production for Northern Broadsides is a white-knuckle rideThe Observer

Like the production itself, Nicholas Shaw is daringly theatrical and heartbreakingly humanThe Observer

Hamlet toured to:

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Friday 25 February – Saturday 19 March

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Tuesday 22 – Saturday 26 March

Viaduct Theatre, Halifax
Tues 29 March – Saturday 2 April

Canolfan y Celfyddyday Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Wednesday 6 – Saturday 9 April 7.30pm

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Tuesday 19 – Saturday 30 April

Theatre at The Mill, Newtown Abbey, Belfast
Wednesday 4 – Saturday 7 May

Gaiety Theatre, Isle of Man
Thursday 19th May – Saturday 21st May

The Rose Theatre, Kingston
Tuesday 24 – Saturday 28 May

2010 - The Game

A brilliant northern comedy about love, honour, class… and football.

by Harold Brighouse (author of Hobson’s Choice)

Directed by Barrie Rutter

Lancashire. 1913. Match Day!

Blackton Rovers is in need of money. Owner, Austin Whitworth, sells his star centre forward – local football hero Jack Metherell – to a rival club on the eve of a crucial match that could see Rovers relegated to the 2nd Division. Will honest Jack do Austin’s bidding when asked to throw the match? Or will he put his professional honour above loyalty to his old club?

Austin’s daughter Elsie, and Jack, are in love – or so they think. But Jack still lives at home, firmly tied to his mother’s apron strings. Will Elsie’s modern ways and feisty temperament win over his domineering mam? Or is this tryst between the classes doomed from the start?

The Game toured to:

Watford Palace Theatre
28 Sept – 2 Oct

Salisbury Playhouse
5 – 9 Oct

New Vic, Newcastle under Lyme
11 – 16 Oct

The Viaduct Halifax
20 – 23 Oct

Lawrence Batley Theatre , Huddersfield
4 – 6 Nov

The Mart Theatre, Skipton
11 – Sat 13 Nov

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
15 – 20 Nov

York Theatre Royal
23 – 27 Nov

2010 - 1984

George Orwell’s
1984
Adapted by Nick Lane
Directed by Conrad Nelson

A Northern Broadsides/Dukes Lancaster production in association with Stroud Theatre company.
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

In a totalitarian world at war, Big Brother watches over all and the Thought Police rule with an iron fist. A solitary figure, Winston Smith, clings to a vision of a different future. What begins as an act of rebellion and hope quickly descends into a nightmare of doomed love, personal betrayal and the terrors of Room 101.

From the lies of the Ministry of Truth to the blind hysteria of the Two Minutes Hate, the manipulation of Doublethink, Newspeak and the capital offence of Thoughtcrime, George Orwell’s stark futuristic vision pulls no punches, and resonates now more than ever.

1984 toured to: 

Dukes Theatre, Lancaster
16 Sep – 9 Oct 2010

The Viaduct, Halifax
13 – 16 Oct 2010

Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond
19 – 23 Oct 2010

The Rose, Kingston upon Thames
26 – 30 Oct 2010

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds
9 – 13 Nov 2010

Buxton Opera House
18 – 20 Nov 2010

Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol
23 – 27 Nov 2010

2010 - The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer’s
The Canterbury Tales
a new version by Mike Poulton

Northern Broadsides in partnership with the New Vic Theatre

Director & Composer – Conrad Nelson
Designer – Lis Evans
Lighting – Richard G Jones
Puppetry – Lee Threadgold
MD – Rebekah Hughes
Movement – Matthew Bugg

Come to The Canterbury Tales and experience theatrical riches it’s almost impossible to sum up: love stories, rude stories and farce most lewd, high romance and hidden depths, chivalry, villainy, jousting and boisterous antics, mirth and merriment, poetry and puppetry and a good dose of song and dance. This is human nature at its best and worst and it’s wickedly entertaining.

Reviews

“What’s to be got by transferring Chaucer’s tales from page to the stage? A multifaceted encounter with a bawdy, mystical, hilarious world 600 years old and fresh as a morning in May, that’s what…….. as invigorating as a high wind over the downs inspring.”  The Observer

“Chaucer might be said to have pioneered the Broadsides approach: championing the vernacular in its chewiest, most robust form; capable of embracing any number of styles; always most memorable when being a little bit rude….. Yet Nelson’s production manages to become more than the sum of its entendres. The Clerk’s Tale of patient Griselda– a complex allegory about the constancy of the Christian soul done with such ravishing tenderness that it becomes a highlight.. Chaucer’s work is all about the journey: Northern Broadsides make the arrival truly transporting as well.” The Guardian

“a stunning production”  The Stage

“Nelson’s direction is awe inspiring. He moves his sixteen players like a chess grandmaster.. Wonderful stuff. We see the stories flow by and are delighted by them, the ensemble and each actor as he or she takes the opportunity to shine. Shine they do! this is a tip-top cast….There is a sense of contemporary and historical rightness about this show, Broadsides would do worse than bring it back every two or three years. It shows our culture and national character in a good light. And it’s a smashing night in the theatre.” The British Theatre Guide

“Nelson plays to Broadsides’ traditional strengths; equal relish for the sound and meaning of language; robust, bravura ensemble acting with individual colour and an eye for audience interaction; a wooden set full of delightful surprises; and brass, string and percussive music by Nelson that sweeps from Dixieland jazz to a hymnal finale of exquisite beauty by candlelight.” York Press “From Geoffrey Chaucer’s very earnest opening to the captivating harmonies of the final scene in Canterbury Cathedral, Northern Broadsides’ production is a joyful celebration of this 600-year-old story.The show is bursting at the seams with colourful characters and their bawdy tales…..this is a pilgrimage that delights from start to end.”  Liverpool Daily Post

“In many ways Chaucer and Broadsides go together like the proverbial fish and chips, and the only surprise is they haven’t enjoyed each other’s ribald storytelling company more.” Liverpool Echo

Toured February – June 2010

New Vic Theatre , Newcastle-under-Lyme
Liverpool Playhouse
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
The Nuffield, Southampton
Palace Theatre, Mansfield
Theatre Royal, Windsor
The Lowry, Salford
The Rose Theatre, Kingston
The Viaduct, Halifax
York Theatre Royal

2010 - Medea
Euripides’
MEDEA
Director – Barrie Rutter
Designer – Emma Wee
Musical Director – Barbara Hockaday
Lighting Designer – Julie Washington
Featuring one of the most powerful female roles in the history of drama, Medea is an intense story fuelled by passion, hatred and calculating rage. Heroic yet deadly, sympathetic yet appalling Medea’s barbaric actions will stir your emotions as you find yourself irresistibly drawn into the nightmare world of this spectacularly vengeful woman.
The vitality, directness and energy from this charismatic cast of actors will ignite the dramatic voltage of Tom Paulin’s gripping new version.
THE CAST:
Nina Kristofferson – Medea
Andrew Pollard – Jason
Cleo Sylvestre – Nurse
Michelle Hardwick – Chorus
Barbara Hockaday – Chorus
Heather Phoenix – Chorus
Fine Time Fontayne – Tutor/Ageus
Barrie Rutter – Creon

Reviews
“Tom Paulin’s vernacular but poetic translation, offers the clearest, most-direct telling of the story I have seen” British Theatre Guide
“I must praise not only the language chosen by Tom Paulin, but the incredible talents of Northern Broadsides in delivering this modern feel…….Nina Kristofferson’s performance is superb, capturing the manic episode into which Medea spirals with a wicked glint in her eye and knowing curve of her lip. Quite simply, an utterly fantastic piece of theatre. Go and see it while you have the chance.” Clickliverpool.com
“While the important characters systematically ruin the world, the humble Chorus fruitlessly urges them to moderation. Their interventions are presented imaginatively and supported by excellent musical underpinning, performed by themselves.Such versatility is typical of Northern Broadsides. Director Barrie Rutter provides a strong account of the play and the action is swept along with high intensity.” Halifax Courier
“Northern Broadsides’ new version is by the poet/critic Tom Paulin and, as you might expect, it has some politically pointed moments. Describing Medea’s status in Corinth, it hits upon the word “immigrant”, rather than exile, and the production makes good on this claim. Nina Kristofferson’s Medea and Cleo Sylvestre’s nicely chatty, scandalised nurse are the only black actors in a cast that is otherwise broad Yorkshire in complexion. Paulin’s language is capable of taking bitter lyrical flight, as when the wounded, dangerous atmosphere generated by Medea is evoked with the phrase: “the air around her hurts”. And this is a production which musically invokes the blues as the voice of internal exile. Youthful and engagingly direct, even (or perhaps especially) when she is being (too) transparent in her deadly scheming, Kristofferson makes a forceful but unduly fresh impression.” The Independent “Tom Paulin’s swingeing Irish version of Medea for Barrie Rutter’s Northern Broadsides makes her a woman who sings the blues. Literally. The Chorus, whittled down to three women (Graces or Witches?), are plain speakers but they are also a music: they sometimes sing their advice and sometimes take up saxophone or drums to provide a keening commentary. The Blues suit this tragedy: they turn lament into a weapon.” The Observer
“Northern Broadsides specialises in direct, uncluttered productions of classical and Shakespearean drama. This new version of Medea, scripted by one of the UK’s most prominent poets, certainly lives up to the company’s manifesto – it is considerably more accessible than much Greek tragedy.” The Stage
“…an all round vibrant display from the cast, which under the skilled direction of , offers an outstanding performance that holds the audience captive to the last.” Whatsonstage.com

Medea tour dates
Oxford Playhouse
Tue 2 – Sat 6 February
Belgrade Theatre Coventry, B2
Tue 9 – Sat 13 February
Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond
Tue 16 – Sat 20 February
Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
Tue 23 – Sat 27 February
Viaduct Theatre, Halifax
Wed 3 – Sat 6 March
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Tue 9 – Sat 13 March
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Tue 16 – Sat 20 March
New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme
Tue 23 – Sat 27 March
The Lowry, Salford
Tue 13 – Sat 17 April
2010 - Treasure Island

For brave children and grown ups

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
21 November – 5 December
box office: 01723 370 541

Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
8 – 19 December
box office: 01484 430 528

The Stables, Milton Keynes
22 December – 9 January
box office: 01908 280 800

“that Northern Broadsides has quietly developed into one of our most inventive producers of children’s theatre… if you’re looking for an intelligent, thematically complex piece of young people’s theatre, this Christmas show marks the spot.” Alfred Hickling, The Guardian


“a stormer. Six performers, a four-poster bed and a dead man’s chest create the inn, the ship, the island and all the characters of the story with a dark intensity that would be too frightening to bear if it were not so declaredly theatrical – the utterly terrifying blind Pew is assembled in full view of the audience from a knotted rope, a rake, a saw, hat and coat… This is a barnacle-blisteringly good production” 
Claire Brennan, The Observer

2009 - Othello

“One of the most malevolent Iagos I’ve seen in Nelson……stealthy, sinister and frightening. You believe he’s capable of destroying Henry’s Othello. And you believe in Henry’s destruction” – The Times (Benedict Nightingale)

“Henry truly triumphed – From his entrance, there is no mistaking his sheer stage presence and impressive bearing. But he delivers the verse with compelling clarity and dignity too The fact that he is such a big, powerful man, and his Desdemona, heart-wrenchingly played by Jessica Harris, is so tiny, young, naïve and vulnerable make these scenes almost too painful to watch. And then, in the magnificent last, Henry delivers some of the greatest poetry Shakespeare ever wrote with clarity and depth of feeling and reaches the heart of a terrible sense of tragic loss.” – The Daily Telegraph

“This is one of the most astonishing debuts in Shakespeare I have ever seen. It is impossible to praise too highly Henry’s courage in taking on so demanding and exposed a role, and then performing it with such authority and feeling.” – The Daily Telegraph

“Conrad (Nelson) is a great performer…he gives one of the best performances of his career. (Lenny Henry) is a massive presence and you easily believe that he is a soldier that could run through twenty men with an arm and a dagger, as he later boasts.The rest of the cast are as usual solid – Maeve Larkin as Emilia is exceptional.Yorkshire Post ★ ★ ★ ★

“Barrie Rutter has directed a touring Othello that is both visually accessible and theatrically captivating.” The Independent

Cast:

Iago – Conrad Nelson
Roderigo – Matt Connor
Brabantio – Barrie Rutter
Othello – Lenny Henry
Cassio – Richard Standing
Duke/Gratiano – Fine Time Fontayne
Senator/Lodovico – Simon Holland Roberts
Desdemona – Jessica Harris
Montano – Andy Cryer
Emilia – Maeve Larkin
Herald – Chris Pearse
Bianca – Rachel Jane Allen
Director – Barrie Rutter
Composer – Conrad Nelson
Designer – Ruari Murchison
Costume Designer – Stephen Snell
Lighting Designer – Guy Hoare

Regional tour 14 Feb – 10 May 2009

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
Theatre Royal, Bath
Rose Theatre, Kingston
New Vic Theatre, Newcastle Under Lyme
Viaduct Theatre, Halifax

2008 - Accidental Death of an Anarchist

by Dario Fo
Adapted by Deborah McAndrew

A man has “fallen” to his death from a window whilst in police custody. Accidents happen, but did he jump or was he pushed?And what is the significance of the ill-fated Mancunian Salsa dancer? A brilliant expose of police corruption rooted in real events in 1960s Italy – this contemporary adaptation brings the play closer to home, to northern England, and revels in Dario Fo’s anarchic genius.

“ up-to-the-minute, politically sharp and hilarious” – The Observer

“an absolute riot. Farce for the soul” – The Stage

“Remarkable… If this is the kind of alchemy it intends to keep creating, (Northern Broadsides) is set to be one of Yorkshire’s finest exports for years to come.” Yorkshire Post 

2008 Autumn UK tour
24th Sept – 6th December

Viaduct Theatre, Halifax
The Dukes, Lancaster
Greenwich Theatre
Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond
The Riverfront, Newport
Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea
Thoresby Park, Notts
Liverpool Playhouse
New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme
Lincoln Performing Arts Centre
Buxton Opera House
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

Cast

The Maniac…………………………Michael Hugo
Detective Inspector Bertozzo……. Anthony Hunt
Constables 1 and 2……………….Matt Connor
D.C.I (The Guv)……………………Neil Caple
Detective Inspector Pisani……….Craig Rogan
Maria Feletti…………………….…Ruth Alexander-Rubin
Director & Composer……………Conrad Nelson
Designer………………………….Dawn Allsopp
Lighting Designer………………..Richard G Jones

2008 - Heidi: A Goat's Tale
The classic tale of Heidi, the irrepressible little girl with a big heart who changes the lives of all she meets. But this stage adaptation has a twist. The story is seen through the eyes of a band of unruly goats. Sent to live with her stern Grandfather in the Swiss Alps, Heidi learns about the mountain way of life but is soon unhappily torn from it to go and live in the big city as a companion to the wealthy invalid, Clara. How will Heidi cope in the stiff formality of the rich household? Will she ever see her beloved Grandfather and her best friend Goat Peter ever again? Will the goats ever behave?!
“a unique, lovable show” The Guardian 
“suffused with warmth …. gleeful, scampering silliness. Great goaty fun” The Times
“Hooray for Northern Broadsides, yet again they’ve put a splendiferous spin on a much-loved classic……It’s enchanting, delicious and bonkers” Scarborough Evening News
“truly astonishing” Halifax Evening Courier “The constant creativity with items on stage will inspire” The Stage
“ wonderfully funny and engaging” Leighton Buzzard Observer Flyer

UK tour 23 October 2008 – 18 January 2009
Viaduct Theatre, Halifax
Lakeside Arts Centre, Notts
Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond
Mart Theatre, Skipton
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
The Stables, Milton Keynes
Greenwich Theatre

Cast
Yan – Gareth Cassidy
Tan – Clara Darcy
Tether – CP Hallam
Mether – Rebekah Hughes
Pip – Siena Lloyd
Director – Adam Sunderland
Designer – Dawn Outhwaite
Lighting – Jason Taylor
2008 - Romeo and Juliet
This production of Romeo and Juliet was produced by Northern Broadsides in partnership with The New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme.
The first performance was on 22nd February 2008 at the New Vic Theatre
 
Cast in order of appearance
GREGORY/BALTHASAR – Matt Sutton
SAMPSON/PETER – Thomas Dyer Blake
ABRAM/FRIAR JOHN – Liam Gerrard
BENVOLIO – Chris Nayak
TYBALT – Chris Pearse
MONTAGUE/APOTHECARY – Jem Dobbs
LADY MONTAGUE/PAGE – Kate-Lynne Hocking
LADY CAPULET – Lisa Howard
CAPULET – Barrie Rutter
PRINCE – David Beckford
ROMEO – Benedict Fogarty
PARIS – Chris Hollinshead
NURSE – Sue McCormick
JULIET- Sarah Ridgeway
MERCUTIO – Peter Toon
FRIAR LAURENCE – Fine Time Fontayne
 
2008 UK tour 22 Feb – 7 June
New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme
Theatre Royal, Winchester
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Liverpool Playhouse
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Rose Theatre, Kingston upon Thames
Georgian Theatre Richmond
Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds
The Mart Theatre, Skipton
Buxton Opera House
The Viaduct, Halifax
The Lowry, Salford
2007 - The Water Babies

Tom, a young chimney sweep, jumps into a cool stream to clean himself. There, he enters a strange and magical underwater world of crotchety lobsters, snobbish salmon and a host of other fantastical creatures. Adults and children alike will be enthralled as Tom travels to the Other-end-of-Nowhere on an unforgettable voyage of discovery teeming with adventure.

Five multi talented performers play the story tellers who, with puppetry, mime and live music, come together to conjure the extraordinary world of The Water Babies. Filled with simple yet beautiful theatrical invention, internationally acclaimed Northern Broadsides turn this classic children’s fairytale into an enchanting play for all the family.

Suitable for anyone aged 5 upwards with a vivid imagination and sense of wonder.

“Northern Broadsides’ first venture into children’s theatre is by and large a success. All conclusive proof that water babies do exist – even if only in the imagination.” – The Guardian

“This is the company’s first venture into children’s theatre and what a way to begin. It is every bit as bold and forthright as the productions for adults. A standard has been set and director Adam Sunderland, who wants only the very best for young audiences, can be excused a satisfied smile. Utterly fascinating – the level of inventiveness will astonish.” – The Stage

“The resourceful and multi-talented Northern Broadsides cast managed to do the seemingly impossible – create a watery world before our very eyes, gripping the attention of every member of the responsive and appreciative audience from toddlers to octogenarians and everything in between.” – The Halifax Courier

“Five actors present themselves as storytellers and appear to invent the world of The Water Babies before our eyes. Through mime, caricature, puppetry and shadow play, they evoke the young sweep’s terrifying ordeal in the labyrinthine chimneys of the big house; his flight across moor, down steep crag; his transformation into a water baby and underwater encounters with salmon, sea snails, anemones and an hilarious lobster” – The Observer

2007 - Lisa's Sex Strike

It’s 2007 in the northern mill-town of Blackhurst and racial tensions are tearing the mixed community apart. Summat MUST to be done, and sharpish.

Radical behaviour requires a radical plan and Lisa hatches an outrageous plot to encourage peace – a sex strike – with riotously funny consequences. But as the women of Blackhurst strive towards love…not war…they make a disturbing discovery that turns their local dispute into a demonstration of global proportions.

Northern Broadsides bring their inimitable blend of charisma, high energy, and northern grit to this wicked comedy, written by acclaimed writer, Blake Morrison.

This play contains sexually explicit language and is not suitable for children under 16.

“Hysterically funny…left the audience gagging for more” – The Guardian

“Gospel-charged soul, shuddering hip hop, blues ballads and haunting Greek folk music create a fantastical theatre experience” – Financial Times

“hugely impressive production… funny and thought provoking” – Manchester Evening News

“Very funny and hugely entertaining.There are some superb individual performances from the cast as well as great ensemble playing.” – British Theatre Guide

“You can’t ask much more from a piece of theatre…there are too many reasons to recommend this play” – Yorkshire Post

“Rib-breakingly funny” – Observer

2007 - The Tempest

Northern Broadsides in partnership with The New Vic Theatre

The Tempest

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Barrie Rutter
Original music by Conrad Nelson
Designed by Lis Evans

A ship flounders in a mighty storm stirred up by the magician, Prospero. His mortal enemies are washed ashore onto an enchanted island peopled by spirits and half monsters. Intent on exacting revenge Prospero invokes a fantastical sequence of events, the climax of which is beyond his wildest imaginings. Shakespeare’s final, and arguably finest, play is rich in the very stuff of human drama – young love, brooding revenge, broad humour and touching forgiveness.

“Northern Broadsides’ latest production leaves no doubt that The Tempest is a rollicking jazz musical. The musical arrangements of Conrad Nelson have become Northern Broadsides’ secret weapon.” The Guardian

“This will surely be one of the finest productions of The Tempest you will see.” ReviewsGate.com

“this production (has) the kind of gusto and clarity with which Northern Broadsides has made its name. As one young teenager remarked in the interval: “I can understand every word.” The Times

“Hilarity is not usually the first thing you associate with The Tempest, but the final word ought to go to a satisfied A-level student on the way out. “That,” he declared, “was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.” The Guardian

“This cast come up with an atypical production, parts of which are, to quote Ferdinand, “the top of admiration…..The Tempest should go down a storm no matter where it goes on its forthcoming tour” The British Theatre Review

2006 - The Man With Two Gaffers

by Blake Morrison

A new adaptation of Goldoni’s” A Servant of Two Masters”

Directed by Barrie Rutter
Designed by Leslie Travers

A servant with two gaffers. A woman disguised as her brother. A pig-headed farmer, a pompous vicar, a lovesick lad, a lass reluctantly engaged to a man who’s meant to be dead…….Treat yourself to an evening of hilarity with Blake Morrison’s brilliant adaptation of Goldoni’s classic Italian comedy, The Servant of Two Masters. Set in a small Yorkshire town in the mid 19th century, this unashamedly northern production swaps Venetian waterways for the Leeds-Liverpool Canal!

“Excellent” – The Times

“Richly vivid and comic”  – The Observer

“Delectable” – The Stage

“Its abundant charm lies in the twinkling charm of all nine actors” – The Financial Times

“The most fun you can have this side of Watford Gap” – Northern Echo

“Lots of fun” Yorkshire Post

“Gloriously rumbustuous…a five course comic feast indeed” – York Evening Press

“Very funny…..delivered with the usual pace and impeccable timing we’ve come to associate with Northern Broadsides.” – bbc.co.uk

2006 - Vacuum

by Deborah McAndrew
Directed by Conrad Nelson
Designed by Lis Evans

‘Nature abhors a vacuum’

This creative partnership re-unite again with this darkly funny new play,

It’s the end of a long week for financial adviser Ray, and as he steps out of the winter rain into the dingy little vacuum repair shop he has few expectations of his new ‘client’. But the enigmatic Mr Ashburner, turns out to be a man of untold wealth.

As the night progresses Ray is drawn down into Ashburner’s twilight world and the fabric of his own fragile life begins to unravel. But what else has Mr Ashburner’s father bequeathed to his lonely son? And how will Ray react when Ashburner reveals his true agenda? In a tense game of cat and mouse their deep rooted problems and secrets are cruelly exposed. Like a tale of the unexpected the play concludes with a deadly twist.


“…stunning….an important 21st century dramatic two-hander……astonishing “
The Halifax Evening Courier

“Reminiscent of Arthur Miller with a touch of Dennis Potter thrown in – do catch this if you can! It contains a lot of stuff you probably didn’t know about vacuum cleaners as well asking a few serious questions about life. A very satisfying evening at the theatre” – bbc online

“Fascinating, thought-provoking, socially relevant and philosophically provocative, this was new writing at its best, performed with passion and panache.” – Northern Echo

“Vacuum is an interesting, well constructed two hander. Perhaps best described as a comedy with growing suspense, a thriller with moments of imagined fantasy and some jolly songs. The mix works well. The plot has its own energy and direction and the sudden changes of mood are comfortably handled.” – The Stage

2006 - Wars of the Roses

A Northern Broadsides / West Yorkshire Playhouse co-production

Henry VI

Young Henry is crowned. Inexperienced and dominated by an ambitious Queen, treachery abounds and York plots his succession to the throne. Bloodshed is inevitable.

Edward IV

Henry faces a nightmare rebellion and is rendered powerless. Civil war erupts and as the House of York prevails, Edward is crowned. But in his shadow a brother lurks who will kill all to become king.

Richard III

A ruthless manipulator, Richard schemes and murders his way to the throne of England – eliminating every obstacle in his way

“Enthralling and exhilarating” The Independent 

“Northern Broadsides’ hugely ambitious Wars of the Roses is nothing short of a triumph.” The Daily Telegraph

“Each play works as a stand-alone production, but seeing them all at one sitting amounts to an altogether different, utterly absorbing experience” The Sunday Times

“If there was ever an occasion made for the dialect warriors of Northern Broadsides, it is Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays….Shakespearean verse doesn’t have to sound middle-class” The Observer

“Nelson’s stealthy emergence as the diabolical Richard becomes the cycle’s outstanding feature.” The Guardian

“Shakespeare’s great kings combine and rule in Northern Broadsides’ hit.” ★★★★ The Sunday Times

“Broadsides has pulled off a triumph: this is thrilling theatre” Metro

“The company has excelled itself….compulsively watchable.” The British Theatre Guide

“Electrifying” Yorkshire Evening Post

“A trilogy that makes brisk, energetic work of the complexities of English history” The Times

“The ensemble is the thing …the sheer dedication and drive of the company finally takes your breath away, pushing you to your feet come curtain call.” The Daily Telegraph

“Utterly compelling in its scope and character, unrelenting in its dramatic power, it is nothing less than a triumph.” The Stage

“A resounding success…big, bold and filling the space impressively …an epic, amazing journey” The Yorkshire Post

2005 - The School for Scandal

By Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Sir Peter Teazle has taken himself a young country wife which has caught the attention of society scandalmongers – the vengeful Lady Sneerwell, the two-faced Mrs Candour, the amorous Sir Benjamin Backbite and his malicious Uncle Crabtree. When it is suspected that Lady Teazle may have taken a lover, the joyful malice goes into overdrive. Affairs, indiscretions and intrigue ensue as these dealers in falsehood deliver human pain and accidental happiness in abundance.

Sheridan’s brilliant satire shatters the thin veneer of decorum and respectability of the upper classes. Delight in their outrageous behaviour and comic intrigues, brought masterfully to life by Northern Broadsides’ first adventure into Restoration Drama.

“We can all learn from this School…… Gossip and parping trombones: a good combination.” The Daily Mail

2005 - Sweet William

Sweet William is an irreverent Elizabethan comedy set in an East End pub. Inhabited by a host of colourful characters who are all Shakespeare’s friends, they each have a bone or two to pick with the Bard when he arrives for a night on the town. Written especially for the company by BAFTA and INTERNATIONAL EMMY AWARD winning writer, Alan Plater,

Sweet William by Alan Plater

“It’s noisy, irreverent, rambunctious and ribald, and its vividly imagined world is peopled by such colourful and appealing characters, whose company is so enjoyable, that you almost want to get on stage, join them at the bar and buy them all a drink. The cast of actor-musicians are without exception an earthy delight. The whole thing is a pleasure – sweet, indeed.” – The Times

“a warm, big-hearted production…… You don’t need to brush up on your Shakespeare to enjoy the in-jokes, boisterous song and burst of clog dance that Plater has devised……At least a quart of life has been poured into this refreshing pint pot of a pub play.” – The Independent

“Sweet William is a little gem of a play, perfectly suited to the strongest company Broadsides has fielded for some years. Conrad Nelson’s score, an ingenious mixture of jazz, blues, folk and a soupcon of rap – plus a beautiful setting of When That I Was But a Little Tiny Boy – is also superb” – British Theatre Guide

“A warm-hearted piece, wittily peppered with lines from the plays and peopled with lovable characters. ….as William Shakespeare, Conrad Nelson comes over as deep, compassionate, funny, sharp and a bit of a mystery – quite like the man we all know, and don’t know.” – Financial Times

“Refreshingly direct, open, funny and not a little irreverent.” – Edinburgh Guide

2005 - Comedy of Errors

Comedy of Errors is a wonderful comic exasperation of mistaken identity. With its zany plot centred on two sets of twins, a pair of sisters, a mother and a father, this farcical caper through the island of Ephesus culminates in a fantastically light hearted resolution.

Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

“The Comedy of Errors is one of the best shaped and best choreographed productions to come from Northern Broadsides. It has the planning and precision of a chess game yet there is no sign of slickness.” – The Stage

“This has to be one of the best nights I’ve ever had at the theatre and it felt like. If you only go the theatre once this year, make sure it’s to see Northern Broadsides “The Comedy Of Errors” – Alive.co.uk

“Rutter’s perky, pastel-coloured 1950s interpretation is notable for its lightness of tone.” – The Guardian

“this is a brisk and breezy production” – Financial Times

“The Comedy Of Errors is one of the lightest of Shakespeare’s plays – no great truths are discussed, there isn’t even a fool to utter words of wisdom. It’s a series of misunderstandings played for laughs but, judging by this production, it could have been written yesterday.” – BBCi

“It would be a very disappointing Broadsides show that didn’t boast a first-rate ensemble cast, and there isn’t a single weak link in this Comedy. Indeed, the play lends itself so perfectly to the Broadsides style that it could almost have been commissioned by them” – British Theatre Guide

“The whole production is slick and sharp, especially during the frenetic second half.
By the time the fantastical climax is reached the whole audience is rooting for the tortured twins to find each other. It’s a very enjoyable show.” – 
Edinburgh Guide

“Every part was played to perfection – If you thought you had been put off Shakespeare for ever after some unfortunate school experiences this is where you can see what you have been missing. You will certainly see his plays in a new light, and have a thoroughly enjoyable evening” – Theatreworld.com

2005 - The Bells

The Bells
A new version by Deborah McAndrew
Directed and composed by Conrad Nelson

Deep in the snowbound mountains of Alsace a savage crime remains unsolved. Fifteen years on the assassin, Mathias, is now rich and respected, but tormented by guilt. Driven by desperation to escape detection and consumed by conscience, Mathias hangs suspended between sanity and terror, as nightmarish visions, conjured from the depths of his mind, administer justice.

The Bells overwhelmed audiences in 1871 with its sheer passion and tragic force.
Northern Broadsides bring their trademark raw energy and searing clarity to this celebrated gothic melodrama in a production promising spellbinding music and theatrical power.

“Northern Broadsides are phenomenal.” – Punch

“Here is the true, beating heart of British theatre.” – Daily Mail

“A redoubtable and original company.” – 
The Independent

“Easily the most exciting and accessible productions of the last decade.” – 
New Statesman

“This is a canny, cleverly judged piece of work in which the combination of melody and drama (melodrama) melds perfectly so that often it seems as if the band of violin, clarinet and percussion is telling the story with as much clarity as the actors…….. an affecting and unaffected piece of popular theatre” – The Guardian 

“As melodramas go, The Bells still seems superior stuff. It doesn’t just show a series of sensational events leading to a denouement in some theatrical Chamber of Horrors …..the musicians, with their quivering fiddle, woodwind and drum, do what’s wanted: create the sinister, spectral feel that set audiences’ hair on end 130 years ago” – (Benedict Nightingale)The Times 

“McAndrew has invigorated the story with the strength and vitality of her dialogue. There is rhythm where necessary and the humour is wonderfully brusque….. They (McAndrew and Nelson) have conceived a new way to stage the climax and it is a master stroke. (The Bells) has been given a thorough dusting off and is no longer a museum piece.” – The Stage

“Deborah McAndrew brings an impressive poeticism, full of alliteration and assonance, which emplaces a new backbone in the story, and the musical embellishments by Nelson succeed in creating a superb theatrical celebration to thrill the spirits. It’s all smashing stuff, providing an evening of superbly recognisable Broadsides excellence” – 
Whatsonstage.com

“This is tremendous piece of ensemble acting, with the majority of the players on stage throughout – either dancing, playing an instrument, acting or even stilt walking – and their versatility is a joy to watch…… an incredibly enjoyable theatrical experience… a totally un-missable experience.” – Craven Herald and Lancaster Guardian

2004 - The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare 

One of Shakespeare’s most gripping plays, The Merchant of Venice confronts the best and worst of human nature and boasts one of his most reviled, complex and compelling characters – Shylock the moneylender. A climactic courtroom drama and his cruel downfall will challenge your heart and your sense of justice. Barrie Rutter plays Shylock in this riveting drama filled with bitter words of hate, and the sublime poetry of love.

“Not the least of the virtues of this admirably lucid and involving production, is that it never ties itself into knots in an attempt to be politically correct……it is consistently fresh-minted and gripping, and, I suspect, closer to Shakespeare’s original intentions than many more feted productions.” – Charles Spencer The Daily Telegraph

“Highly enjoyable….If you have never seen The Merchant of Venice and didn’t know the story, this is a production that conveys it perfectly…. The tension when Bassanio chooses the casket or when Shylock sharpens his knife has you on the edge of your seat.” – Lyn Gardner The Guardian“A typically lucid production from Northern Broadsides. There is never a dull moment.” – Michael Coveney Daily Mail

“Rutter cuts a charismatic figure on stage, and gets the job done in his brisk, no-nonsense manner…. (he) is never less than watchable and is in mesmerising form.” – Charles Spencer The Daily Telegraph

“True ensemble playing, fantastic timing and great music all combine to provide a very good night out!” – BBCi

“As with all Northern Broadsides’ productions, there is a real generosity of spirit and simplicity in the way the play is presented.” – Lyn Gardner The Guardian

2003 - Antigone

By Blake Morrison

A war has ended. Peace. Celebration – and problems. Antigone, hot-headed, wilful, stubborn daughter of Oedipus, must defy the new ruler, Creon, to bury her brother – traitorous leader of the failed rebellion. Caught in the act, she is condemned and brings death upon herself out of loyalty to her dead brother.

The individual versus the state, conscience versus the law, divine law versus human – Antigone is undoubtedly Sophocles’ masterpiece. Blake Morrison’s contemporary version is firmly rooted in the present. His spellbinding text, has an immediacy that brings this monumental story vividly to life. Northern Broadsides’ vigorous approach to classic drama supports the power and enormity of this tale.

“Morrison’s new version of Antigone by Sophocles is a real humdinger” – The Daily Mail

“Rutter’s directing is sure and vigorous…. stunning music and choreography…..arguably (Morrison’s) best work for the theatre to date.” – The Stage

“Overwhelming…..It’s classical tragedy that speaks our language.” – The Guardian

“Rutter’s production is a model of clarity, vigorous and shock horror…..unmissable.” – The Daily Mail

“From the moment the lights go up on the Chorus we know that we will be completely caught up in the drama. Immediately accessible…this is not one of those plays where you need to get clued up on the story before you go to the theatre.” – BBC online

2003 - Henry V

by William Shakespeare

Henry V is an inspiring leader of men, an unstoppable force in the battle to win the Crown of France. The Batlle of Agincourt raises his status to heroic proportions, but what price kingship? This is the story of the coming of age of a man, a King and the nature of power.

“Conrad Nelson’s Henry is no cut-out hero, but a man struggling to find himself and desperately wanting. Like all the other performances here it is strong, direct and feels scrupulously honest. It is acting without the fancy show-off bits, and you can’t help warming to it.” – Lyn Gardner – The Guardian

“Each play carries us into its individual world…the clear verse-speaking is sensibly emphatic….. “The king that (Conrad) Nelson is lets us vividly see is one whose charismatic public confidence sweeps up his men to give of their utmost.” – Jeremy Kingston – The Times

“Splendidly royal, sensitively human, irritatingly mischievous, deliberately gauche, Nelson changes like a chameleon – but his Henry is never less than spellbinding (in) a production brimming with fresh insights,” – Lynda Murdin – Yorkshire Post

“The sprit of national grit and glory suggested by the Shakespearean tradition of strolling players is best embodied today by Northern Broadsides.”

“An Elizabethan double of special quality…here is the true, beating heart of British theatre.” – Michael Coveney – Daily Mail

2003 - A Woman Killed with Kindness

Frankford, a country gentleman, is husband to Anne, a ‘perfect wife’. Their happily married life is thrown into disarray when he discovers Anne in the arms of another man. Banished to a life of luxury, but prohibited from seeing him or their children again, Anne pays the ultimate price in her remorse.

“Hankies are a necessary accessory for audience members….Every inch the ruddy-faced country gentleman, (Richard) Standing gives a finely-judged performance , sweeping us up in his happiness then plunging us in his despair.”

Lynda Murdin – Yorkshire Post

“Maeve Larkin (A Woman Killed With Kindness) is a most touching – in truth, a tear-prompting – penitent” – Jeremy KingstonThe Times

2002 - Macbeth

by William Shakespeare

Macbeth, victorious in battle, is met by spirits of the dark. Their prophetic greetings propel him towards an inexorable descent into evil, fuelled by the ruthless ambition of his wife. The prize – the Crown of Scotland. The consequences – the assassination of a King, the murder of a friend, tha slaughter of a mother and her children and a kingdom in turmoil. Yet power does not bring happiness and retribution has its day.

“…inspired acting…..the chanted witches sequences are a tour de force. Rough magic to be sure, but of the kind Northern Broadsides do best of all.” – The Guardian ★ (Alfred Hickling)

“Like a blasted heath, the senses take a battering. There is little time or peace to think for the audience and Macbeth alike in this rampaging journey “ – Yorkshire Evening Press

“An outstanding production…another magnificent effort from Rutter and his company.” – The Stage

“This is a strong ensemble production with moments of revelation….Rutter’s company come close to evoking the nightmare of what happens when the security of the State is cut to pieces and men turn on one another in fear.” – Bradford Telegraph &Argus

“Superb clarity, exemplary pace and physically vigorous story-telling…It’s a beefy production. Shakespeare – indeed, Theatre – doesn’t come much ,ore invigorating than this.” – Whatsonstage.com

“Full of sound and fury (this production) signifies just about everything. Rutter marshals his excellent cast with SAS precision…this is a must-see Macbeth.” – The Yorkshire Post

2001 - Cracked Pot

by Blake Morrison

from Kleist’s Der Zerbrochene Krug

The Yorkshire Dales, 1810. In a small town, a family heirloom is smashed. Judge Adam is both judge and villain in the raucous farce of a court case that ensues. Under the watchful eyes of Lancastrian Judge Walter Clegg, the law is turned on its head in a chaotic hearing where Judge Adam uses every corrupt trick in the book, from blackmail to barefaced lies, in order to extricate himself from the increasingly damning evidence. Populated by a clutch of wickedly funny characters, The Cracked Pot is a riotous comedy set in deepest Yorkshire, positively crackling with northern wit and steeped in earthy satire on small town corruption.

“An upfront, no-nonsense production….We know Rutter’s Adam is wicked, but by God he’s fun.” – The Financial Times

“A gloriously bawdy romp….Hypnotically funny….undiluted joy. – The Stage

“ invigorating work from Barrie Rutter’s glorious Northern Broadsides: an instant classic…..beguiling and bewitching” – The Observer

“an uninhibited celebration of the Yorkshire tongue….a joy.” – The Guardian

“This forgotten antique (Der Zerbrochene Krug) suddenly reveals itself as an extraordinary combination of joyful romp and courtroom drama.” – The Yorkshire Post

2001 - Oedipus

by Blake Morrison

In order to rid his land of a deverstating plague, Oedipus has to find the murderer of previous ruler, Laius. Determined to suceed, his well meaning search for the truth leads to his tragically spectaclar fall.

A political icon, revered by his people and loved by his family, he is victim of cruellest whims of gods who condemn him to sordid destiny involving patricde and incest.

Both innocent and guilty, the circumstances of his downfall power one of world’s greatest and most famous tragedies.

Blake Morrison’s exciting new version of Oedipus breathes new life into this classic drama. Northern Broadsides bring their distinctive energy and uncompromisingperformance style to this powerful story that still stirs the soul, centuries after it was written.

“This is acting so immediate, so alarmingly intimate….
it becomes difficult to believe that anyone could be only
pretending.”

The Guardian (Alfred Hickling)

“The confrontations are like hammer blows, catastrophe is
inevitable but the narrative is kept taut with tension…This
is classic drama for everyone”

The Stage (Kevin Berry)

“Blake Morrison has written a wonderful version of Oedipus….
its language is both plain and rare”

Observer (Susannah Clapp)

“Refreshingly bold – I’ve seen many revivals of Greek plays that
tried to shed the classical hauteur…but never one that so
bluntly deglamorised an ancient tragedy and relocated it to
our era. And somehow it works.”

The Times (Benedict Nightingale)

“Morrison’s swift and unemphatically poetic version of
Sophocles is a perfect example of levity in seriousness,
exuberance in tragedy. The tale unfolds with a literally
blinding clarity. Broadsides are touring- Catch them if you can.”

Daily Mail (Michael Coveney)

“This flexible, creative treatment of a classic of the Western
repertoire takes several risks but fully justifies them, because
nothing is allowed to obscure the great strength of the
original play it’s inexorable rhythm, its intellectual clout and its aural beauty.”

Times Literary Supplement (Edith Hall)

2001 - King John
King John
 

by William ShakespeareHe is a virtuoso politician with an uncontrollable passion for the crown – a hero and villain. The play is powered by the politics of war and a fierce battle for the sovereignty with the future of England at stake.“It’s surprising what a spare, lucid revival can accomplish – Rutter’s production grips” – The Times

“Beautifully done, with a thrilling simplicity” – Daily Mail

“A bold, exhilarating, percussive production…Northern Broadsides makes an overwhelming case for (the plays) theatrical restoration.” – The Guardian

“The novel approach to simulating the atmosphere of battle on stage – polyrhythmic percussive duels – create both the noise and some of the exhilaration of actual combat” – Financial Times

“Rutter’s corps speak Shakespeare with vigorous Northern voices and their rough punch makes sense – their wars are translated into storming rounds of tribal drumming.” – The Independent on Sunday

“The staging has clarity, colour and pace. The protagonists are arranged as if making up an animated chess board. The sounds of battle are at once thrilling and brutal. This production has been worth doing and it has been done exceedingly well.” – The Stage

2001 - The Merry Wives

The Merry Wives
by William Shakespeare

The Merry Wives was a superb medley of a comedy piled high with excruciatingly funny episodes of pure farce.

Mrs Page and Mrs Ford are feisty wives who plot to outfox the devious advances of the philandering Falstaff. Mr Ford’s jealousy, and determination to prove the suspected infidelity, leads to hilarious and heartrending consequences.

A sheer pleasure from start to finish, we brought our characteristic energy and exuberance to bear, fanning this delicious play into a comic bonfire.

“This is a very funny play, well cast and all the more enjoyable for the fact that Northern Broadsides really seem to relish its broad humour and extract the same to the max. Go see.”
Halifax Courier

“Northern Broadsides is now staging the most original Shakespeare productions you are ever likely to see anywhere – and that includes the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.”
Telegraph and Argus

“This show lollops along with a confident verve.”
Financial Times

Toured with King John Spring 2001

2000 - Alcestis

Alcestis
A version by Ted Hughes

September – November 2000

A King is doomed by the gods to die. He allows his wife, Alcestis to offer up her life in his place, and in doing so, condemns himself to a life of guilt and misery. But can Death be cheated? If Apollo’s prophecy comes true, the impossible could happen.

Alcestis was Ted Hughes’ final work. Shortly before his death in 1998, Hughes gave the manuscript to Barrie Rutter with the express wish that it should receive its premiere in the Calder Valley.

“I wrote to Ted Hughes once to congratulate him on one of his works, and he wrote back saying his tuning fork had always been in the Calder Valley. After that, we kept corresponding until his death.” Rutter

“Wonderfully bold, punchy verse…Barrie Rutter’s production combines simplicity with energy, intensity and something more. I challenge anyone not to be moved.”

Benedict Nightingale The Times

“Visionary….A stirring evening”
Michael Billington The Guardian

“The Theatre event of the week…..The piece is a great story” ★ “Uncommonly good”

Robert Gore Langton Daily Express

“…especially poignant and courageous…Alcestis is a work that looks death in the eye without blinking. The production leaves no doubt that Alcestis is a major work.”
Charles Spencer The Daily Telegraph

“Hughes’s superb, muscular text is given the works by an excellent company”

Michael Coveney The Daily Mail

Joanne Thirsk ~ “Touching and beautiful as the dying Alcestis”
Andrew Cryer ~ “gives a moving performance as the anguished Admetos.”
David Hounslow ~ “Hugely engaging as a cocky, complacent Heracles”
“The three-strong Chorus deliver Hughes’s powerful, probing poetry with welcome clarity and restraint”

The Daily Telegraph

“Northern Broadsides puts the surging muscular poetry centre stage….it will haunt you long after you leave (the theatre).”
Evening Standard (London)

“A blast of no-nonsense, classical refurbishment. Hughes’s Alcestis cuts to the quick on a number of occasions.”
The Herald (Glasgow)

2000 - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing
by William Shakespeare

The soldiers’ war is over! On then with the merry war of wit, vitality and brilliance; on to revelry, the delights and trials of courtship and finally to the concord of marriage itself. Northern Broadsides’ usual recipe of clarity, spontaneity and celebration served up this bounty of Shakespeare’s craft. An abundance of happiness, villainy, comic ineptitude, wit and charm cooked up with the lavish ingredients of English country dance and music.

“Deborah McAndrew and Conrad Nelson make an attractively sparkish couple. She is brisk, jolly and cute; he is tall, self-important but always winningly absurd…….This is a real, fluffy treat. The music is pure, unalloyed delight.”
The Daily Mail

“Shakespeare does not get much better, or more enjoyable than this.”
The Stage

“The greatest pleasure is that guaranteed by all Northern Broadsides productions of Shakespeare: the chance to hear the bard’s language recast in its closest modern equivalent. Add to this crisp all-round performances and you have the makings of a must see.”
Manchester Evening News

1999 - King Lear

King Lear
by William Shakespeare
A jungle of raw, feral emotions…Shakespeare’s epic imagination in imagery and language interrogates and exposes human folly and corruption – Lear and his daughters…Gloucester and his sons…

Through madness to reason…Through blindness to sight…Through suffering to a better world…

“Rutter’s actors seize on the givens of their characters, breathe vigour and energy into the poetry and let the story take hold. The result is riveting, powerful theatre – a tornado of emotions” 
The Stage

“The text remains unsullied…the result is brisk and pacy.” 
The Times

“Northern Broadsides: one of theatre’s success stories of the past decade…I would advise catching King Lear on tour this autumn.” The Daily Mail

“A redoubtable and original company…steadily emerging is the continuity of vision and the incomparable value of long-term ensemble work, something all too rare in contemporary theatre.” The Independent

1999 - Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night
by William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night is a comedy of identity, overflowing into a world of wonder and madness. The irresistible force of Orsino’s passion opposes the immovable object of Olivia’s vow of a seven-year seclusion. Enter the twins, Viola and Sebastian, into Illyria; passion shifts, vows get broken and love, reunion and joy delight the theatrical senses.

“For those who yearn for straight Shakespeare, this is a highly commendable production…..” The Guardian

“Rutter’s production shows how inventive and versatile Northern Broadsides has become.” The Independent

“His (Rutter’s) is not a production with any filigree work – or finickiness. It is quick and natural and all of a piece.” The Observer

“This topsy-turvy play is ideal for a tight-knit company.In the hands of Northern Broadsides, the balance of characters are perfectly weighed…a jumble of a tale told with impressive clarity.” Yorkshire Evening Post

“Outstanding Shakespeare: Shakespeare to get excited about and to thrill the senses.” The Stage

1999 - The Millennium Story
1998 - Trackers of Oxyrhynchus

Trackers of Oxyrhynchus

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Opened 10 October 1998. ‘A play by Tony Harrison from the remaining fragments of The Ichneutae by Sophocles. The experience was a crossroads in my life which led directly to the creation of Northern Broadsides’ – Barrie Rutter. A pungently physical adaptation of Sophocles’s satyr play Ichneutae.

 

 

1998 - Samson Agonistes

Samson Agonistes
by John Milton

Samson is captive, blind and in the prison at Gaza, forced into menial tasks of drudgery in the mill by the occupying force of philistines. On this day they are celebrating their release from Samson, and all work is forbidden.

As he rests, his visitors include friends of his tribe; his father, who is seeking his son’s freedom by ransom; his wife Dalila, and the champion fighter Harapha. The passionate confrontations with these two Philistines – his wife, to whom he revealed the secret of his strength, his hair; the Champion, who taunts his abject fall – invoke in Samson one final labour of strength: the destruction of the Temple and the flower of Philistine nobility.

“Barrie Rutter’s convincing achievement makes me feel the work deserves an airing more often that once in a generation…. Altogether an engrossing rediscovery.”
The Times (Jeremy Kingston)

“Rutter creates a real dramatic presence…although the play is in some ways anti-theatrical – this fine production lifts it into the canon of English drama.”
Times Literary Supplement (Tom Paulin)

“(Sir Anthony) Caro has demonstrated that a sculpture could be made form anything and Rutter is emphatic that classical theatre can happen anywhere…what a blinder”
The Guardian

1998 - Richard III
1997 - The Mysteries

The Mysteries
By Tony Harrison

The Millennium Story from Tony Harrison’s enchanting and moving Mysteries.

On the first day of the new millennium, Northern Broadsides staged promenade performances of The Nativity, The Passion and Doomsday at Dean Clough, Halifax followed by performances in Oldham, Nottingham, Skipton and Salts Mill.

“….if we lived in a society which truly valued its artistic heritage, The Mysteries would be performed every year.”
Sir Peter Hall

1996 - The Blood of Dracula

At the end of December 1996, Dracula swept into the spooky underground Viaduct Theatre at Dean Clough in Chris Bond’s spoof horror story for grown-ups.

Involving a pair of young honeymooners, a Viennese phychiatrist, the batty factotum and his wife (both memorably played by Rutter) a Yorkshire sausage maker and the Count himself.

This panto with teeth also visited The Coliseum Theatre, Oldham.

1996 - Romeo & Juliet

by William Shakespeare

Basking in the warm sunshine of some of Shakespeare’s brightest love poetry, hopeful young lives are thrust into a single tomb. In a mood of enforced secrecy and often with the best intentions, the older generation teaches the younger how misadventure, ancient quarrels and family pride can abort and finally bury the most joyous of beginnings, the best of love stories.

“A barnstorming Romeo and Juliet” The Yorkshire Post

“Michelle Hardwick ‘s Juliet ….remarkably forthright and impassioned” The Independent on Sunday


” …no drippy girl but a feisty teenager seething with resentment” 
The Yorkshire Post

“Quick and unsentimental…..this production restores the thrill of narrative.” Independent on Sunday

“The raw simplicity of Rutter’s approach give his production energy and drive.” The Sunday Times

“Northern Broadsides have a vigorous aesthetic, a way of doing Shakespeare that is revelatory. Independent on Sunday

“Shakespeare made plain – no frills and perspicuous……delivered straight from a simple, undivided heart.” The Observer

“Northern Broadsides… easily the most exciting and accessible productions of the last decade.” New Statesman

“The best Shakespeare around.” The Independent on Sunday

“Northern Broadsides are phenomenal.” Punch

1996 - Antony and Cleopatra

by William Shakespeare

The politically disastrous infatuation with the ‘serpent of Old Nile’ and his awkward, botched death as joint Ruler of the then-known world is Anthony’s tragedy; Cleopatra joins him in death but in a thrillingly beautiful and serene fashion, simultaneously depriving Caesar of his planned triumphant parade of the Queen of Egypt through the streets of Rome.

“Heaven sent casting……” The Guardian

Ishia Bennison’s Cleopatra “….coquettish, vulnerable, violent and witty…..” Independent

Barrie Rutter’s Antony “….pulsating and impetuous……” The Observer

“pomp without pomposity….the style is cheeky and the pace cracking…..a tonic antidote to RSC gravitas.” Daily Telegraph

“Its pace and rough theatre style seem highly refreshing… (the production) strips away romantic gloss and grandeur without losing human vigour..” The Times

“Another demonstration that Northern Broadsides can bring Shakespeare to life as gripping, accessible theatre for today simply by making the words sing.” The Guardian

“A majestic production…..A right rare, and real, treat.” The Observer

“A simplicity, directness and house style that does Shakespeare good service.” Independent on Sunday

“This is the production Peter Brook never achieved….” The Observer

“Knocking the pomp out of Shakespeare and returning his works to a popular audience.” Majestic Theatre, Brooklyn

“a startling freshness that makes you reconsider the characters… this Cleopatra truly commands through sheer force of a mercurial, erotic temperament that she herself can neither fully understand nor control.” The New York Times

1996 - A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

Barrie Rutter’s Northern Broadsides production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream arrived at the Globe just after finishing a tour of Brazil, spent two hours rehearsing on the stage in front of an audience of builders and pleasantly surprised tourists, and less than an hour later, the company were putting on their single performance to a packed Globe house.

The company discovered how to exploit many of the space’s possibilities. Even within the few hours of rehearsal time, actors were moving through the auditorium to test acoustics and sightlines, and the rehearsal audience were brought into the exercise to play a major role.

Rutter would shout to a punter in the upper gallery: ‘Can you hear that?’; actors on the stage would try out lines to see how to embrace the whole auditorium. If something didn’t work – a blocking move, an exit, an entrance, Rutter would experiment to find other ways to play the scene.

The public rehearsal of this Dream was probably an object lesson in how a company of actors can find out how to get used to the Globe space. The Northern Broadsides company had toured this production in all kinds of spaces – from purpose built theatres to factories.

Asked whether he felt his approach to the rehearsal process would need to be any different from his usual approach – would you want, for example, actors to spend more time getting used to the space, the distinctive configuration of audience/actor of the new Globe? Rutter replies: ‘No and No – as we proved with just two hours’ familiarisation, then a party for sixteen hundred people courtesy of Will Shakespeare’.

The first half was played in their own clothes – mostly jeans and T-shirts emblazoned with the company logo, a boar’s head. Rutter had warned the audience before the play began that three cases of costumes had been lost somewhere between Rio and Heathrow, so that as with their rapid acclimatising to the stage and space, the players had to improvise to make up for the loss of any help from costume in their characterisation – no mean feat when you are a 14-stone workman transformed into a fairy with nothing but movement and voice to disguise you.

When Rutter walked on stage for the second half, dressed in a black coat festooned with rainbow-coloured favours, a splendid hat covered in flowers and sprouting tall, winking pheasant feathers, the audience – in the yard and in the galleries alike – gave a roar of applause.

The irony of course was now that Rutter was dressed in character, it was not Oberon the playgoers were applauding, but the actor who had had to play the part not dressed for it throughout the first half, as well as the costume itself. It provided yet another of the many examples in the Prologue Season when the combination of audience and actor in this roofless theatre produced such a potent blurring of the boundaries between the world of the play and the world of the playgoers.

One of the most remarkable moments of the whole Prologue Season was towards the end of the Dream performance when, appropriately enough, in a scene which celebrates the magical powers of the theatre, Rutter brought the whole production down to a whisper. Open to the sun-filled daylight; packed with highly visible bodies dressed in shorts and vests and summer frocks, with no sign of a lighting effect or a single scenic trick, the theatre became a spell-charmed circle.

The audience was ‘spell-stopp’d’ by the fiction.
“A Night to remember…..a refreshingly far cry from received pronunciation….the mechanicals are lovably observed and as authentic as I have seen.” 
The Times

“..the rasp,relish and simplicity with which he (Rutter) stages the Dream make you hear it entirely afresh…I’ve never seen an angrier, more quarrelsome Dream.” The Observer


“The brisk, no-nonsense staging is a delight. This is a production that achieves a genuine rough magic.” 
Daily Telegraph

“Northern Broadsides are claiming Shakespeare for their own voice and as previously, they make their point. To hear ‘I know a bank where the wild thyme blows’ in the scoops of Rutter’s Yorkshire is not an exciting novelty, it just sounds right.” The Independent

“This homely, good-hearted show brims with warmth and vitality.” Daily Telegraph

1996 - The Cracked Pot

by Blake Morrison, from Kleist’s Der Zerbrochene Krug The Yorkshire Dales, 1810.

In a small town, a family heirloom is smashed.Judge Adam is both judge and villain in the raucous farce of a court case that ensues.

Under the watchful eyes of Lancastrian Judge Walter Clegg, the law is turned on its head in a chaotic hearing where Judge Adam uses every corrupt trick in the book, from blackmail to barefaced lies, in order to extricate himself from the increasingly damning evidence. Populated by a clutch of wickedly funny characters, The Cracked Pot is a riotous comedy set in deepest Yorkshire, positively crackling with northern wit and steeped in earthy satire on small town corruption.


“An upfront, no-nonsense production….We know Rutter’s Adam is wicked, but by God he’s fun.” 
The Financial Times

“A gloriously bawdy romp….Hypnotically funny….undiluted joy.” The Stage

“ invigorating work from Barrie Rutter’s glorious Northern Broadsides: an instant classic…..beguiling and bewitching” The Observer

“an uninhibited celebration of the Yorkshire tongue….a joy.” The Guardian

“This forgotten antique (Der Zerbrochene Krug) suddenly reveals itself as an extraordinary combination of joyful romp and courtroom drama.” The Yorkshire Post

1995 - The Labours of Hercules

A play based on the Greek myth

The 12 labours of Hercules were a number of tasks that he was told to complete by King Eurystheus. Fortunately, Hercules had the help of Hermes and Athena. By the end of these Labors, Hercules was Greece’s greatest hero.

1995 - The Kaisers of Carnuntum

By Tony Harrison

 

 

1993/4 - The Merry Wives / A Midsummer Night’s Dream / Richard III

By William Shakespeare

1993 - Poetry or Bust

Tony Harrison’s play tells the tragi-comic tale of John Nicholson, the Airedale poet, who drowned in the River Aire by Salts Mill in 1843.

A boozy woolsorter with a huge personality, Nicholson’s sole ambition was to join the literary great and good despite his humble origins at the woollen mill. His employer, Titus Salt, encouraged Nicholson’s poetic endeavours resulting in a small volume of poems. He rushed to London with copies of the book in search of fame and fortune, and was arrested whilst drunkenly haranguing a bust of Shakespeare in a theatre foyer.

Originally staged at Salts Mill in 1993, Harrison resurrected this charismatic character, played by Barrie Rutter, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Salts Mill in September 2003.

1992/3 - Richard III

The first Northern Broadsides performance was Shakespeare’s Richard III, and it toured weird and wonderful locations including the Marina Boatshed in Hull, Middleham Castle in North Yorkshire and Bradford’s West Yorkshire Transport Museum.