Spooky Christmas at the Royal Exchange


Oliver Wellington and Joanne Thomson in rehearsal. Pic: Chris Payne
Oliver Wellington and Joanne Thomson in rehearsal. Pic: Chris Payne

Rehearsals are well underway for what is probably the festive season’s most unusual offering.

The Royal Exchange in Manchester is staging (December 4-January 15) a new production of the National Theatre of Scotland’s internationally award-winning spooky musical play The Strange Undoing Of Prudencia Hart.

First staged in pubs and community centres north of the border back in 2011, it proved so popular it was revived repeatedly and toured across the UK, America, South America and Australia.

Award-winning Scottish playwright David Greig’s whimsical, 21st century makeover of Scotland's ballad tradition may now have fetched up with the Sassenachs, but the creatives are the genuine article.

Scottish actor Joanne Thomson is Prudencia, whose unbelievable journey begins as the snow starts to fall and the vodka shots flow. Joanne, from Glasgow, has an extensive stage career and recently on TV played DS Lisa Harvey in BBC One drama The Victim, nominated for a BAFTA in 2020. Her performance in ITV’s In Plain Sight won her nominations in two Best Actress categories, and her recent BBC prime-time drama The Suffragettes won a BAFTA in 2019.

The director is Debbie Hannan, who trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and now has a list of international credits.

The score is a mash-up of traditional Scottish folk and modern pop from composer Michael John McCarthy and award-winning folk musician Malin Lewis. Lewis was a BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2022 finalist and is a piper, fiddler, composer and instrument maker from the West coast of Scotland.