Jermyn Street Theatre announces The Reaction Season, its third as a producing theatre. Running from 10 April to 18 August, The Reaction Season will feature 15 plays and musicals – 12 of them one-act – based around themes of reacting and re-enacting.
It will also include the first complete London revival of Noël Coward’s Tonight at 8.30 since 1936. Tonight at 8.30 and Tomorrow at Noon – a cycle of 12 one-act plays arranged into four trios – will play in repertory.
Noël Coward’s Tonight at 8.30 features nine one-act plays ranging from music-hall pastiche to light comedies, to heartbreaking drama. These have been arranged into three trios entitled Secret Hearts, Nuclear Families, and Bedroom Farces, with the chance to see all three trios (nine plays) in a single day on Saturdays and Sundays.
Tonight at 8.30 plays in repertory with Tomorrow at Noon, featuring three new plays by Jenny Ayres, Emma Harding, and Morna Young, each of which reacts to one of Coward’s Tonight at 8.30 plays, and responds to it in a contemporary voice. Ayres, Harding and Young were chosen from over 390 anonymous entrants.
Tom Littler directs Tonight at 8.30, and the theatre’s Deputy Director Stella Powell-Jones directs Tomorrow at Noon. Casting will be announced shortly.
Esther Freud is well known as a bestselling author, with novels including Hideous Kinky. Her first play, Stitchers, is about the prison reformer Lady Anne Tree, who reacted to the state of Britain’s prisons with an original idea – she would teach needlecraft to convicts. It is directed by BAFTA-winning filmmaker Gaby Dellal.
Stella Powell-Jones Stella Powell-Jones will direct the European premiere of Boo Killebrew’s highly praised The Play About My Dad, a quick-witted and deeply moving drama, set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Boo and her Dad compete to tell his story – with unforeseen consequences.
Rounding off the season is Hymn to Love, devised by Annie Castledine, Elizabeth Mansfield and Steve Trafford, which re-enacts the life of Edith Piaf, featuring 13 of her songs in new translations. It is a co-production with York Theatre Royal and Theatre by the Lake, in association with Ensemble. It is directed by Damian Cruden and stars Elizabeth Mansfield.
Tom Littler said: “This is the most ambitious season in our 24-year history, and I am incredibly grateful to all of the people who have helped to set it up. I am very excited to be directing the whole of Noël Coward’s Tonight at 8.30 – in our intimate studio space, I think these plays can be revealed as works of extraordinary insight, wit, and emotional impact. Although each trio stands alone, I hope people will come to experience the full breadth of this remarkable cycle, which I count as Coward’s finest achievement. And I cannot wait to see how the three playwrights of Tomorrow at Noon react to Coward.
Esther Freud’s Stitchers and Boo Killebrew’s The Play About My Dad are both remarkable, fierce, funny works that I couldn’t put down and so looking forward to seeing on stage. And Hymn to Love is not just a delight for any lover of Edith Piaf, it’s a serious piece of art in its own right, made with deep integrity and performed by the
remarkable Elizabeth Mansfield. Everything here reacts to everything else; the plays sit in a lively conversation with each other, and I hope audiences will be along to see everything in the season and join in that conversation.”
For full details of The Reaction Season please visit: