St Albans theatre season in good Company

PUBLISHED: 09:44 28 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:24 06 May 2010

THE Company of Ten is gearing itself up for a very special season which gets underway next month. The St Albans drama group, which is based at the Abbey Theatre in Westminster Lodge, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. So it is more than fittin

THE Company of Ten is gearing itself up for a very special season which gets underway next month.

The St Albans drama group, which is based at the Abbey Theatre in Westminster Lodge, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

So it is more than fitting that one of the plays the Company of Ten (CoT) will be putting on in the next few months is The Anniversary by Bill MacIlwraith.

That is not until November but to get audiences in the mood for the comedy, the CoT are getting the 2009/2010 season underway with the female version of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple from September 18 to 26.

So popular was Simon's original version which propelled the names Oscar and Felix into the cultural vocabulary that the author agreed to rework it into a female production.

Oscar and Felix have become Olive and Florence and the opening poker game is replaced by an evening of Trivial Pursuits. The English Pigeon sisters have become the Costazuela Brothers and it is their arrival as dinner guests at Olive and Florence's apartment which sets the scene for the comedy.

October finds the CoT switching to the adjoining Studio where audiences sit in the round to watch plays.

Veteran Norma Jenkins directs Life x 3 by Yasmina Reza, a modern comedy of manners in which one couple think they are late for a dinner party with another - only to find they are a whole day early.

Three different versions of the tangled evening are performed from October 16 to 24.

The Anniversary, which can be seen from November 13 to 21, introduces the matriarch from hell.

It is her wedding anniversary and despite the fact that her husband has been dead for some years, her three sons are obliged to gather for the annual celebration at the family home.

Two of the sons have something important to tell their mum but this is a woman who, if she can't get her way by normal means, blackmails her own offspring.

Treasure Island is the CoT Christmas show which can be seen from December 16 to January 2 and promises plenty of rich pirate humour combined with the salty swashbuckling vigour of the original.

The New Year opens with a Studio production of Taking Sides by Ronald Harwood , a compelling drama which plays out in the American Zone of occupied Berlin in 1946.

The play focuses on the life of Willhelm Furtwangler, possibly the most brilliant orchestral conductor of his generation, and the question of whether he was a collaborator.

The production from January 22 to 30 has been timed to coincide with National Holocaust Day on January 27, 2010.

It is back to the main theatre from February with the comedy Hobson's Choice by Harold Brighouse. Written in 1915 and set in 1880, it is a close study not only of class in the late nineteenth century but also of the prolific shoemaking trade which sets the play in its very specific industrial era.

The play, which runs from February 26 until March 6, revolves around bootshop owner Henry Hobson and his three daughters and is regarded as northern comedy at its best.

Steven Poliakoff's Sweet Panic is being performed in the Studio from April 23 until May 1 and looks at how the certainty of a child psychologist's beliefs is threatened when she is stalked by the mother of one of her young clients.

In the main theatre from May 14 to 22, an adaptation of Dickens' David Copperfield puts its unforgettable characters and eponymous hero on the stage.

Two actors play David Copperfield - one the young David and the other his older self. The two interact throughout the play.

A feisty new version of the seminal ancient Greek tragedy The Bacchae can be seen in the studio from June 11 to 19 with its powerful dramatisation of the conflict between the emotional and rational sides of the human psyche.

And the season comes to a conclusion from July 2 to 10 with All In Vein by Brian Stewart which is directed by the author himself. A fast-moving farce it is set in the bedroom of a private hospital where harassed staff are expecting a very distinguished foreign patient.

Tickets for Company of Ten shows can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861 or go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk

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