Liam Ruddden: Three to see in Lyceum’s 2017/18 Season

Conservative MP Enoch Powell speaking in Birmingham on 15th June 1970
Conservative MP Enoch Powell speaking in Birmingham on 15th June 1970
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THE Royal Lyceum unveiled their forthcoming 2017/18 season this week. A press release that’s always worth a read - all 49 pages of it.

It’s an eccentric mix, one that unashamedly reflects the political turmoil of the world around us. Whether that will prove a draw, only time will tell, however, there are three productions I’m particularly keen to see.

What Shadows (7-23 September), by Chris Hannan, finds Ian McDairmid, best known to Star Wars fans as Palpatine, playing Enoch Powell, in a new play examining the controversial MP’s life.

Marking the 50th anniversary of Powell’s infamous Rivers of Blood speech, the piece brings to life the community of 1968 that inspired it, and, 30 years later, its effects on one woman trying to make sense of her life after her childhood was shattered by his words.

Will a meeting with Powell himself allow Rose Cruickshank, the daughter of a Caribbean immigrant, to find the inner peace she craves?

Casting and subject matter suggest a season opener likely to make a huge impact.

Similarly, Cockpit (6-28 October), by Bridget Boland, is another tantalising production heading to the Grindlay Street stage, only it’s not. Not exactly.

Set in 1945, The Second World War is nearing its end. A young British officer is detached from the advancing armies to take charge of the mixed group of refugees.

Within the walls of the dilapidated Hoftheater of Deutscheshof, displaced persons shelter and await instruction.

But inside the makeshift refuge, miniature wars continue, as Polish citizens turn against Russians, Chetniks refuse to be classed with Partisans, and a French Communist girl denounces a French farmer as a Fascist.

When a threat far greater than individual prejudices puts everyone in jeopardy they are forced to try to work together. But can they?

To tell the story director Wils Wilson will turn the entire auditorium into a site specific space peopled by the antagonistic enemies.

Finally, gender politics come to the fore in Tony Cownie’s revival of restoration comedy The Belle’s Stratagem (15 February-10 March 2018), by Hannah Cowley.

A romantic comedy of manners from 1780, originally set in London, Cownie’s adaptation relocates the action to Edinburgh’s New Town where, despite being betrothed since birth, Letitia Hardy finds herself out of favour with the charming and arrogant Doricourt.

Determined not to marry without love, she formulates a plan - she will behave so badly he will call off the wedding, and then seduce him in disguise.

Meanwhile, Sir George, Doricourt’s close friend, is desperately controlling of his beautiful new wife Lady Frances, who the rake Courtall, has vowed to seduce.

Needless to say nothing is ever what it seems.

Three to see then, when the Lyceum’s new season goes on sale on 10 June at www.lyceum.org.uk