Over the coming months, the theatres of north east Wales are offering up a wide array of temptations. Here are just a smidgin of the highlights that are in store during May. From the thought provoking, to the blood curdling, via the purely entertaining, the diversity of productions that you can catch of an evening (or afternoon, in some cases) should attract all but the most die-hard of philistines. Even better, the theatre does not just require you to be a passive observer; they actually want you to get involved. Be it strutting your stuff on-stage, coming up with a killer set design, arranging the lighting or simply pulling the rope that opens the curtains, theatres are always on the lookout for new members.
That said, the job of audience member has a lot going for it at this time of year. Grove Park Theatre in Wrexham is titillating us with Liz Lochhead’s adaptation of Dracula (May 24th-June 2nd). Dracula is probably THE gothic vampire story and GPT’s take on the bloodthirsty exploits of the long undead Count promises to tingle spines throughout its run.
On a more upbeat note, Tiptop Productions will be running the classic 1970s bedroom farce “Funny Peculiar” (May 10th-19th) by Mike Stott. Dazzlingly scripted sexual politics from what seems like a long distant time, this is not for the squeamish or easily offended (in some part due to one character appearing sans clothes at one point.)However, if you count nudity and very near-the-knuckle humour as legitimate forms of artistic expression, this one is for you.
Back to blood and gore, with Wrexham Musical Theatre Society’s production of “Curtain Up On Murder” by Bettine Mankletow (Apr 26th-28th/May 3rd-5th). Almost post-modern, as the plot revolves around a troupe of amateur dramatists who find the corpses piling up when they are mysteriously locked inside their rehearsal room. A nice little thriller to keep the audience on their toes as the guessing game begins. Then, in June, there’s a chance to see John Godbers musical comedy about life in a decrepit secondary school, “Thick as a Brick”.
So, in May alone there is a gory vampire thriller, a potty-mouthed exploration of sex and the absence of it, and an intricately plotted murder mystery to whet your whistle. On a much more complex note, the ‘Waking Exploits’ production of “Pornography” at the William Aston Hall, Wrexham on 30th April certainly deserves a mention. This is in a much darker vein than everything else mentioned so far as it deals with the lives of several characters who are about to get caught up in the 7/7 bombings in London. Whilst undoubtedly a deeply harrowing subject, this could be considered to be a must see performance, as a genuinely powerful piece of thought provoking theatre.
With many of the theatre societies mentioned looking for new people to join them and become part of the stories that they tell, this Spring seems the perfect time to start finding out exactly how entertaining a night at the theatre can be.
By Jonathan Eames