Northern stories and hard-hitting drama combine for a packed autumn-winter season at Oldham Coliseum
A mixture of Coliseum-produced and touring drama will fill the season alongside the theatre’s award-winning annual pantomime.
The Coliseum’s home-produced shows have a north-west bias with Jim Cartwright’s modern classic, Road, directed by Gitika Buttoo and Tim Firth’s comedy Neville’s Island, directed by Kash Arshad.
The season opens with a bang on September 16 (to October 1) as the Coliseum’s historic stage turns into a nameless Lancashire street for Road. Jim Cartwright’s 1986 hit mixes humour and pathos to tell a story of life lived to extremes, where there’s nowhere left to fall but into a little light relief. How good is it? Road has been voted one of the top 50 plays in the history of theatre – that's how good.
Director Gitika Buttoo’s last production at the Coliseum was the theatre’s September 2021 production of Love 'N' Stuff – the first home-produced show to run in the theatre after 15 months of pandemic closure.
Next up (February 17-March 4, 2023) Kash Arsad directs Keswick-based Tim Firth misadventure, Neville’s Island.
Set on an island in the Lake District with a bunch of middle-aged blokes who think they’re Bear Grylls, Neville’s Island is the often surprising story of a team-bonding exercise that goes comically, horribly wrong.
The theatre's artistic director, Chris Lawson said: “This season is all about place: the different kinds of people you find in different places, and the different circumstances people find themselves in because of their location.”
Christmas 2022 officially begins on November 12 (until January 7, one of the longest runs around), when the Coliseum opens its pantomime, Robin Hood. Directed by Chris Lawson, the annual festive treat is renowned for its mix of slapstick, silliness, hit songs, tradition and pop culture references.
This will be the Coliseum's first production of Robin Hood in over a decade. The ensemble cast will once again be led by Richard J Fletcher as the Dame, with Shorelle Hepkin returning as Robin.
The Coliseum welcomes Rifco Theatre Company from October 11-15 with Glitterball by Yasmin Wilde. The play follows Sonia, half of a Shirley Bassey tribute act. When her half-brother Naim arrives he brings a breath of fresh air that encourages Sonia to take a new look at life.
The John Godber Company and Theatre Royal Wakefield present an updated version of Shakers: Under New Management! from October 18-22.
Shakers is the sister play to Bouncers, and Godber’s revamped version puts women’s lives front and centre. The high street might be struggling to get back to normal but the Shakers bar is under new management and staff are determined to make it the place to be seen.
The season also features a ghost story for Hallowe'en, When Darkness Falls by James Milton and Paul Morrissey, (October 25-29), and Pilot Theatre's multi-award-winning production Noughts & Crosses tours to the Coliseum from March 14-18. The latter is a gripping Romeo and Juliet story of love, revolution and life in a divided society.
The season also sees the return (September 7) of former Coliseum associate Nana-Kofi Kofuor’s debut play My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored, and last but not least there's ThickSkin and Traverse Theatre Company's painful but uplifting true story of an eleven-year-old unaccompanied asylum seeker, Dritan Kastrati in How Not To Drown (March 23-25, 2023).
The season also includes four independent studio shows: Roots on September 28-29; The Long Way Home (September 30); Joyce Branagh's Ladies That Dig (February 22-23), and I Am Not a Robot (February 24-25).
The season isn't done there by any means, with special projects, comedy and other one-night events also on the list.
Full details on the Coliseum website here