Around the World in 80 Days and Rita, Sue and Bob Too

WITH just a couple of weeks left of the Everyman’s current rep season, and with the Playhouse already closed as it undergoes a £500,000 refurbishment, the two theatres will soon both be taking their summer breaks. But before the lights go dark, the venues have announced the shows that will be appearing on their stages between September and Christmas.

Although the Everyman’s rep company has been the focus of attention over the last few months, the venue reverts to a more familiar mix of visiting companies and collaborations for the rest of the year. Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz has suggested the rep company will return in 2018, but for now, theatre bosses are concentrating on the months ahead.

The Playhouse’s big show for Christmas is Baskerville, an adaptation of the famous Sherlock Holmes story

Opening the Everyman season is a new version of Günter Grass’ epic novel The Tin Drum (September 28 – October 14). Created by Cornish company Kneehigh – last seen at the Everyman with Dead Dog in a Suitcase – the show is described as “a startling musical satire – part Baroque opera, part psychedelic white-out, part epic poem”. Narrated by Oskar, a character who decides to stop growing up on his third birthday, the novel is widely regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest cultural works.

Down at the Playhouse, once the painters and decorators have finished doing their stuff, the Williamson Square venue opens its autumn season with a rare opportunity to see Johannesburg’s celebrated Market Theatre – the independent company that became known as the “Theatre of the Struggle” during the apartheid years. They bring The Suitcase (October 4-7), a play adapted from a short story by Es’kia Mphahlele and featuring music by Hugh Masekela.

Lefty Scum

Also new to the Liverpool stage is the acclaimed 1927 company, who blend theatre with cabaret and animation to create extraordinary flights of the imagination. They bring a show called Golem to the Playhouse (October 18-21), a production that has been described as “Kafka meets Little Shop of Horrors” and “a Frankenstein for the 21st century”.

The more familiar companies hitting the Playhouse this autumn include Out of Joint with their wickedly funny version of Rita, Sue and Bob Too (October 10-14), Playhouse regulars Headlong with their hit show People, Places & Things (November 14-18), and Northern Broadsides who bring a new adaptation of an 18th century French comedy about a free-spending widow. Called For Love or Money (November 21-25), the show is directed by and stars Barrie Rutter, with the original setting having been brought right up to date by writer Blake Morrison.

The Playhouse also hosts two inventive escapades based on classic books. First up is Around the World in 80 Days (October 27-28), which plays for just two nights during October half term and is, according to the theatre, “action-packed good fun”.

Taking a similarly fast-paced, irreverent approach, the Playhouse’s big show for Christmas is Baskerville (December 9 – January 13), an adaptation of the famous Sherlock Holmes story. Featuring five actors playing 42 characters, it promises to be a rather less intellectually demanding take on the Baker Street detective than anything involving Benedict Cumberbatch.

Up at the Everyman, The Tin Drum is followed by Graeae theatre company’s popular look at the life of Ian Dury, Reasons to be Cheerful (October 17-21). Described as “a glorious celebration of the music, energy and anarchy” of the legendary singer, the show is packed with music and familiar songs.

Everyman audiences who enjoyed the rep company’s fascinating The Conquest of the South Pole earlier this year may want to look out for Man to Man (October 24-28). Created by the same writer, Manfred Karge, the play is about an East German woman who takes on her husband’s identity. This Wales Millennium Centre production received a clutch of five-star reviews when it played the Edinburgh Festival in 2015.

Other Everyman shows this autumn include the “apocalyptic, science fiction explosion” of Songs for the End of the World (October 31 – November 1), Hoipolloi’s Me and Robin Hood (November 2-4) featuring the storytelling talents of Hugh Hughes, and a night of radical comedy called Lefty Scum (November 9) featuring Josie Long, Grace Petrie and Johnny & The Baptists.

And then there’s the Everyman’s previously announced Christmas show, The Little Mermaid (November 25 – January 20). As one of the theatre’s ever-popular rock ‘n’ roll pantomimes, it promises the same old jokes delivered with as much exhilarating energy as ever – along with a time-travelling jukebox-worth of singalong hit.