COLUMN: FROM SHAKESPEARE TO A SUMMERTIME SPECIAL – HERE’S WHAT TO SEE ON STAGE THIS MONTH

Our columnist Maureen Sullivan gives us an update on what to expect in the Island’s theatre scene following the announcement that the majority of Government restrictions will be lifted from the 19th July.

We in theatreland are all eagerly awaiting the much-anticipated day, 19th July, for relaxing restrictions – barring any last-minute change of government plans, we will welcome back full audiences – as well as full casts.

There will of course still be some sensible precautions such as the provision of sanitiser, and any audience member who wishes to wear a mask able to do so. The Island thespians are obviously keen to get on with it….

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Horsebox Theatre are galloping ahead with their new show. The People’s Republic of the Isle of Wight combines niche references to the quirks of Island life that will baffle the average grockle, with relatable frustrations, questions, and complexities that we all share with about our hometowns, even if we’re not a caulkhead!

Written and performed by Joe Plumb with special guests including drag queen Fanny Quivers as Charlotte Nimby and singer Milly Jolliffe as Dawn Frumlum-Dunn in this part rally, part history lesson, part breakdown of a show.

You are invited to join them on their nationwide tour (of the Isle of Wight) at Bar 74, Ryde on 16th July, Northwood WI Village Hall on 17th July, Ventnor Fringe on 30th (20:00 and 22:00) and 31st July (20:00). Tickets are available from www.horseboxtheatre.com. Age guidance 16+.

When lockdown forced the closure of live theatre, the last production the Apollo Theatre was able to present to the public was ‘The Thrill of Love’ in February 2020.

Like all theatres across the land the ghost light, a single spotlight on the stage kept hopes alive that we would return. Thanks to the dedication of the volunteers and considerable financial support of the IOW Council, this lovely old theatre in Pyle Street, Newport is back with not 1 but 3 plays by the wonderful John Mortimer, probably best known for Rumpole of the Bailey, under the umbrella title A London Affair.

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In Knightsbridge a TV executive gets the wrong idea about his prospective mother in law’s profession, or does he? In Lunch Hour the repeated interruptions of a hotel manageress thwart a couple’s attempt to begin an affair. And in Marble Arch, an ageing actress tries to move an inconvenient body. Can Harrods help? Maybe not.

The Apollo Theatre’s A London Affair will be staged from 30th June – 7th August (not Sunday or Monday) at 19:30: tickets are available to book online at https://www.apollo-theatre.org.uk/a-london-affair/ or by calling the box office on 01983 210010.

The Apollo is also hosting After All These Years on 23rd/24th July, prior to its Ventnor Fringe run, and tickets can be booked on the above contacts.

The 2 Shanklin Theatre shows affected by the (lack of) change in circumstances in June now have new dates. TheatreTrain’s Summertime Special will be staged on 8th August at 17:00 – please note the change of time – and CurtainCall Creative’s Fame – The Musical on 3rd and 4th August.

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Further information can be obtained from the theatre website at https://www.shanklintheatre.com or by calling the box office on 01983 868000.

Shanklin are also looking forward to hosting the Savoyards’ Summer School based on the hit show We Will Rock You. The school runs from 24th -30th August with Show Day on 30th. The Savoyards have just announced their autumn show too: The Little Shop of Horrors will run from 21st – 23rd October – more information in my next update!

After the sell-out success of Full Circle, Bembridge Little Theatre Club are now preparing to stage their next production, the world premiere of a hilarious summer pantomime entitled A Bard in the Hand! Shakespeare is lodging with Dame Barnet, a wig-maker. But he is stoney broke, has no ideas for a new play… and there is a play thief on the loose. Can his old friend Kit Marlowe (007) help?

Add in a pair of star-crossed lovers, a would-be standup comedian, and a man-eating next-door neighbour and you have a recipe for lots of bard-related fun.

You will be able to see A Bard in the Hand at Bembridge Village Hall at 19:30 on 12th, 13th and 14th August: tickets are available from the BLTC box office on 07841950261 or by calling in at Splash, Union Street, Ryde or the Co-op welcome Store in Lane End, Bembridge.


Maureen Sullivan is a regular contributor to Island Echo’s coverage of the Arts on the Isle of Wight. Maureen has been actively involved in the Island’s amateur dramatics scene for several years, appearing in many different roles and guises with several theatre companies. In her free time, Maureen also writes and reviews at iwtheatre.org.

Catch Maureen’s column each month for the latest theatre and art happenings...

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