OVO sobering up for The Weir at Maltings Arts Theatre

KEEPING the actors sober was the challenge facing St Albans theatre company OVO with its forthcoming production of Conor MacPherson’s The Weir.

The play, which is being performed from next Thursday to Saturday, October 20-22, and from November 2-5 at the Maltings Arts Theatre, is set in a bar somewhere on the west coast of Ireland and the author directs that copious quantities of local tipples Harp and Guinness must be consumed.

The characters need to be well lubricated in order to reveal the secrets and stories of their lives as the plot unfolds.

Director Jo Emery began a search for a credible alternative to the hard stuff with the support of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) which is based in St Albans and has assisted the theatre company with sourcing authentic beer taps and other bar paraphernalia.

Jo said: “It proved surprisingly difficult to locate a low alcohol stout – there is obviously a gap in the market there which is waiting to be exploited. In the end, the only supplier we could find was in Failsworth which coincidentally is a town near where I used to live as a child.”

The solution means that the actors’ sobriety and concentration will be maintained – at least until they mix with the audience in the bar afterwards.

Tickets for The Weir are �12.50/�7.50, available from www.ticketsource.co.uk/ovo

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n OVO’s first performance at the Maltings Arts Theatre, where it has an initial six month residency, brought in more than 140 people to hear Songs from the Silver Screen on two nights last month.

That number substantially exceeded OVO’s expectation of 100 over the two nights for a show which took in some of the best music from the movies including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Moulin Rouge, South Pacific and Dirty Dancing.

The performance launched the agreement with St Albans district council which gave OVO responsibility for delivering a programme of theatre, music and other live performances at the theatre on the second floor of the Maltings shopping centre.

Cllr Mike Wakely, the council’s portfolio holder for sport, leisure and heritage, described it as a “great start” for the partnership with OVO which helped demonstrate that there was a demand for live theatre in the area.

Imogen de la Bere, programming director for OVO, added: “We are delighted with the audience response to this season so far. As word is spreading about the quality and variety of shows at the venue, we are seeing increased ticket sales. It’s a great indication that the Maltings Arts Theatre could be a thriving arts venue for many years.”

Full details of the OVO programme is available online at www.maltingsartstheatre.co.uk, or from St Albans tourist and information centre in Market Place.