Barefoot In The Park
by Neil Simon
16 - 25 September 2010
This is one of Neil Simon's earlier works – and still one of his funniest. In a cascade of witty quips and snappy ripostes, there is a laugh in nearly every line. The story centres on the Bratters, a pair of newlywed New Yorkers who move into an apartment six floors up – an agonising climb for everyone but young wife Corrie who is thrilled with her first home. Husband Paul, a rather serious rising lawyer, is not so amused. Neither is Corrie's mother, a widow with a bad back and a nervous disposition, who is even more nervous when she meets the Bratters' eccentric European neighbour, Velasco. After a night out with him, the Bratters have their first stand-up row and Corrie accuses Paul of being a stuffed shirt who would never do anything so crazy as to walk barefoot in the park. Meanwhile, her mother has to find out how she lost all her clothes when she passed out in Velasco's apartment and Paul decides to walk on the wild side to prove his love for Corrie. Naturally, it all ends happily. But you'll still be laughing on the way out of the theatre.
The Day After The Fair
by Frank Harvey
21 - 30 October 2010
This sad romantic play is an adaptation of a short story by Thomas Hardy. It is set in Hardy country, Dorset, in the home of a wealthy brewer, Arthur Harnham, and his unhappy younger wife Edith. The arrival of a fair with a new-fangled steam carousel is the cause of much excitement among the young maids in the house, one of whom, Anna, meets a young man from London. When she receives a letter from him, she confesses to Edith that she cannot read, nor write. The kindly Edith agrees to act as Anna's shadow by writing to the young man, a barrister named Charles Bradford. Soon, Edith and Charles are exchanging love letters – he still believing hers come from Anna. Anna is found to be pregnant and Charles comes to marry her. On that day, he discovers he has been deceived and is bound, not to the educated woman to whom he has been writing, but to a pretty, illiterate peasant. The play ends on a beautifully sad note. Take your handkerchiefs.
Larkin With Women
by Ben Brown
25 November - 4 December 2010
Philip Larkin was the author and poet who famously turned down the offer to become the Poet Laureate and who was also renowned for his assertion that sexual intercourse began in 1963. Larkin was a reclusive man who spent the last of his 63 years of life in the comparative backwater of Hull University, despite being hailed as one of the finest writers of the 20th century and the nation's favourite poet. Much of his output shed a somewhat ascerbic view of modern society but his personal life was once described as hair-raising but hilarious. Ben Brown's play looks at Larkin's life through his relationships with three women – the glamourous Monica Jones, the gentle Maeve Brennan and his long time secretary and confidante, Betty Mackereth – across three decades, a period when Larkin was keeping these three women on the go without marrying any one of them. The result is an amusing insight into the unorthodox, jazz-loving, sexually charged poet who called himself "the Don Juan of Hull". This year is the 25th anniversary of Larkin's death and his memory will be celebrated at literary festivals across the world even as our production opens.
Swimming With Sharks
by George Huang
6 - 15 January 2011
The action takes place in the offices of a Hollywood film studio – "not the movies but the business of movies... and you gotta be ready to crush anyone and anything that comes within a mile of getting in your way". Here we meet Buddy Ackerman, Senior Executive Vice-President of Keystone Productions, an outwardly charming but totally ruthless man who has risen to power by making highly successful blood-and-bullets movies. He has a new assistant, Guy, whom he greets amiably but soon subjects to a torrent of abuse and belittlement which becomes the pattern of their tempestuous relationship. Into it walks Dawn Lockard, a feisty, street-wise, hard-headed producer with a new project which Buddy is persuaded to back. Buddy hands Guy the chance to produce it and, amid the excitement of developing the script, he and Dawn become lovers. But just as success seems within his grasp, Guy discovers he has been betrayed. He wreaks a terrible revenge on Buddy and settles his score with Dawn. This is a play of raw power with a twist at the end – and one which will grip you to the last curtain.
by Bill Owen
10 - 19 February 2011
Yes, that Bill Owen, star of Last of the Summer Wine. The story is based on a real event in 1888 when girls working in the Bryant and May match factory in London went on strike – geddit? – in protest at their dreadful working conditions. One of the effects of making phosphorus matches was that the girls risked developing a disfiguring condition known as "phossy jaw". Led by one of their number, Kate, they seek recognition of their rights with the help of Annie Besant, an early Labour activist. Of course, they finally win the day. Sounds grim? Not a bit of it. Thisis a lot of fun. There is romance between the girls and their young men, mostly from the nearby London docks - chief among them Kate and her boyfriend Joe. This show is a fast-moving musical laced with Cockney humour and songs, musical numbers and choruses a-plenty. In short, a feel-good show with tunes to make you tap your feet and songs you will long remember.
by Clifford Williams
17 - 26 March 2011
Adapted from the novel by Daphne du Maurier, this is the much-read tale of a young girl who marries an older man, Maxim de Winter, and is taken to live on his West Country estate, Manderley. There, her early happiness withers away as she gradually becomes involved in the mystery of de Winter's first wife, Rebecca, who died in unknown circumstances. Rebecca's unseen presence fills the house, enthusiastically promoted by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, whose loyalty to the dead women is fierce and unhinged. Driven to despair by the dark menace surrounding her, the young wife is on the point of taking her own life when the truth of Rebecca's death is finally revealed and the de Winters emerge from the shadows to begin their married life together. You may know the ending but this story unfolds with a gripping intensity which makes for superb theatre.
by Gerald Sibleyras (trans by Tom Stoppard)
21 - 30 April 2011
This gentle comedy will appeal to everyone. It is Stoppard's translation of a French play by Gerald Sibleyras and, as you might expect from a master of theatrical wit, he brings a rich humour to a simple concept. The play is set in 1959 in the grounds of an old soldiers' home where three of the inmates – First World War veterans – live. What brings Phillipe, Gustave and Henri together is their common purpose – to escape. With military precision, the three would-be escapees talk, plan and plot whenever they meet, always searching for the perfect scheme to make their getaway. Of course, they have never succeeded but they retain high hopes. When we meet them, they are devising yet another cunning plan to get them over the wall and away. But although escape is their prime concern, they talk of many things – of the war, the other inmates, the Sisters who care for them, the sexual attractions of the young women who work at the home, and the dog. They want to take the dog with them but it's made of stone and they can't lift it. It is typical of the lunacy that permeates this lovely comic vignette. You'll sympathise with the three old fools and you will laugh with them, not at them.
by Marc Camoletti
26 May - 4 June 2011
Bernard invites his mistress, Brigit, down to his country cottage on her birthday despite the fact that his wife, Jacqueline, will be there too. To avoid her suspicions, he also invites his best friend, Robert, and asks him to pretend that Brigit is his mistress. Robert is uneasy about this arrangement, never having met Brigit. When an attractive cleaning lady turns up, he is further confused. Increasingly desperate to keep his wife sweet, Bernard gives a masterly display of quick thinking until... well, you will have got the picture. A farce? You've got it in one. And a very funny one it is.
Full of sight gags, funny lines and lust, the whole thing spins along at a rate of knots with frantic complications in which identities, plots and even bedrooms are changed in ever more confusion. Unbelievable? Of course. But put logic aside, sit back and enjoy.
The Lion In Winter
by James Goldman
30 June - 9 July 2011
The setting is the castle at Chinon in the Loire valley, a stronghold of Henry II, king of England and ruler of a large part of France. It is Christmas 1183 and Henry prepares to greet his wife, his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Once, they outraged the courts of Europe by eloping to marry and create an enormous empire embracing England and almost half of France. Now, Eleanor comes to Chinon only because Henry releases her from prison where he has kept her for the last ten years. He brings his latest love, the French princess Alais to meet Eleanor and their three sons, Richard, Geoffrey and John, two of whom later became kings themselves. This reunion brings together a fiery family, dominated by Henry and Eleanor who cannot forgive each other for destroying their one-time love and who now engage in an angry, spitting, furious battle of wills. The play is based on fact and paints an enthralling picture of two mighty personalities whose Christmas ends with both parties having fought to a standstill but remain joined together. They retire to lick with wounds until next they meet, when Henry will let Eleanor out of prison for Easter. As a play, this is simply stunning. We shall be taking it to Cornwall in the summer as our contribution of the Minack Festival.