Oxford Playhouse has today announced its journey out of lockdown, reopening its doors to in-person audiences from Friday 28 May 2021. The Together Again Season is a delicious mixture of in-person and digital performances which includes Ralph Fiennes’ first appearance on the OP stage in T.S.Eliot’s Four Quartets, the opening of the UK tour of Blindness from the Donmar Warehouse, top-class live comedy from Russell Howard, Adam Buxton and Michael Spicer, and a live streamed play reading starring David Jason, Stephanie Cole and Anton Lesser. Running alongside the season will be a full programme of events, workshops and activities for audiences, young and old, to take part in. Participation activity will remain online during Summer 2021 but return to in-person events and activities from September 2021, including OP’s flagship programme for supporting literacy in Oxfordshire’s primary schools, Primary Playmaker.
We especially like the look of their family programme, which includes a couple of shows that we have tried and tested, as well as some other very exciting looking stuff. We’ve pulled out some highlights below, but you can see their full programme on the Oxford Playhouse website.
The Secret Garden Experience (ages 6+)
May half-term sees a magical theatrical experience for families with Wizard Presents’ The Secret Garden Experience. Award-winning storyteller Danyah Miller leads a superb creative team to bring Frances Hodgson Burnett’s timeless classic to life in a unique interactive blend of audio, physical and digital experiences. There is something for everyone to hear, see, do and share …all from home! Accompanying eight gripping audio episodes, with original music by Arun Ghosh, is a beautifully crafted Secret Box, bursting full of eight beautifully handcrafted packages created by theatre designer Kate Bunce, which is posted to audiences at home.
Brainiac (ages 6+)
Audiences will need to strap on their safety googles when the most outrageous live science show Brainiac comes to the stage in July. With exploding dustbins, combusting microwaves, live daredevils stunts and all the experiments you’re not allowed to do at home, the fearless Brainiacs take audiences aged 6+ on a breathless ride through the wild world of the weird and wonderful and the spectacular mysteries of science! This show has the Family Stage scientific seal of approval and our hypothesis is that your kids will love it too. Review our conclusions from when we analysed the Brainiacs’ antics in the West End.
Me and My Bee (ages 6+)
Touring Oxfordshire this summer is Me and My Bee from ThisEgg in partnership with Oxford Playhouse, an eccentric family show about bees and how humans can make a difference in saving the world. Via a combination of storytelling, clowning, original live music, movement, and simple audience interaction, the show asks audiences to play their part in supporting our planet’s ecosystem – one bee at a time! We have very fond memories of this brilliantly bonkers show which we caught at Greenwich Theatre a few years back (before we started blogging) and can still sing you the catchy theme tune! It also marked Quaver’s stage debut, in which she was plunked from the audience and required to pin the stinger on a bee’s bottom while blindfolded!
You Can’t Stop the Beat (suitable for all ages)
The always popular Musical Youth Company of Oxford (MYCO) return to Oxford Playhouse with a fantastic celebration of musical theatre songs in You Can’t stop the Beat. MYCO is an award-winning youth theatre organisation, recognised for its spectacular musical theatre productions and eclectic and innovative concert programmes. You Can’t Stop the Beat brings together a taster of some of the highlights of Chess (MYCO’s programmed show for 2020) along with an array of other musical theatre gems, including numbers from Hairspray, Sunday in The Park with George, Six the Musical and Carousel.
The Woman in Black (ages 12+)
In July 2021, Oxford Playhouse welcomes back The Woman in Black, the production which was suspended when the venue was first forced to close its doors at the start of hte pandemic. Susan Hill’s acclaimed ghost story comes dramatically alive in Stephen Mallatratt’s ingenious stage adaptation which is out on a UK tour this summer. This gripping thriller, directed by Robin Herford, is a brilliantly successful study in atmosphere, illusion and controlled horror and has a special place in the history of Oxford Playhouse.
Under the Mask (ages 14+)
In March 2020, hundreds of final year medical students finished their studies early and started work on the frontline of the Coronavirus pandemic. In March 2020, hundreds of final year medical students finished their studies early and started work on the frontline of the Coronavirus pandemic. Under The Mask is the story of one of them. Written by junior doctor Shaan Sahota, Under the Mask is a co-production by Oxford Playhouse and Tamasha. In a remarkable story of fortitude and hope, the installation brings the audience onto the OP stage. Seated on individual chairs, lit by their own lighting state, listening through headphones to this fully immersive, the audience are placed at the heart of this 360-degree binaural experience.
Oxford Playhouse is delighted to be welcoming audiences back to its historic building on Beaumont Street, whilst prioritising the safety of audiences, artists and staff and has a range of Covid safety measures in place. Live events on the main stage are currently being sold to a socially distanced seating plan and capacity. Subject to government advice and guidelines this capacity may increase from 21 June 2021. Oxford Playhouse continues follow the safety and hygiene measures set out by the government in its guidance for performing arts and has been awarded the See it Safely and We’re Good to Go kitemarks by UK Theatre and Visit England.
Oxford Playhouse’s Autumn Season will be announced in July 2021.