The Progress Theatre website is at www.progresstheatre.co.uk. You can find details of the Youth and Student Groups there.
Progress Theatre are holding auditions for this summer’s Reading Open Air Shakespeare production, The Merry Wives of Windsor, being performed in the gardens of Caversham Court from 15th to 25th July. The auditions are on Sunday 8th March at 14:30 and Wednesday 11th March at 19:30 at Progress Theatre on The Mount, Christchurch Road, Reading RG1 5HL. The production is being set in 1790s Berkshire, and will involve significant audience interaction, possibly incorporating music and simple dance. It will take an irreverent approach, not shying away from the bawdier elements of the play. If you are interested in auditioning or have any questions, please contact the director, Tony Wernham on 0797 3333 778 or by email at .
Animal Farm, 23rd to 28th March, 19:45
Adapted from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, this musical from Peter Hall stays faithful to the original powerful tale of the starving animals on Manor Farm rising against their drunken owner who neglects them and the farm. The animals believe that their revolution is for the good of all. Pigs assume power and we are assured that 'All Animals are Equal'. They preach solidarity above all, and defense against their human enemies takes priority above food and freedom. Slowly and subtly the pigs begin changing the rules to give themselves more power and privileges. Gradually the pigs become as corrupt as their human counterparts. Some animals still follow faithfully while others lead revolts. There is loyalty, betrayal, revolt, sabotage and executions in Progress Theatre’s joint adult/youth production The gripping storyline is enhanced by a strong musical score.
Talking Heads, 20th to 25th April, 19:45
Talking Heads is a series of dramatic monologues written by Alan Bennett filled with pathos and dark humour. Progress have selected three of these pieces to present and provide an engaging, entertaining and emotional evening. A Chip In The Sugar finds Graham living with his mother and fighting for her attention from an old flame. Her Big Chance sees Leslie an actress with high aspirations but low standards. A Cream Cracker Under the Settee follows Doris, an elderly lady whose stubbornness and pride has serious consequences.
Killer Joe, 18th to 23rd May, 19:45
By Tracy Letts. Killer Joe tells the story of Ansel, Chris, Sharla and Dottie Smith - a family living in a trailer park in Dallas in the mid-1990s. One night Chris visits his father Ansel informing him that Chris's mother, Ansel's ex-wife, has stolen his stash of cocaine and now he has no money to pay back the vicious criminal who supplied the drugs. Together they hatch a plan to murder Chris's mother for her life insurance policy and, with neither of them having the stomach for the job, they employ the services of killer Joe Cooper, a Dallas police detective who moonlights as a hitman; telling him they will pay his cut out of the insurance. However, when the plan backfires and Joe can't be paid, he takes as collateral Dottie, Chris's emotionally damaged younger sister, leading to a bloody climax of murder and betrayal.
The Weir, 15th to 20th June, 19:45
By Conor McPherson. In a rural pub in Ireland, four men gather to enjoy their daily drink and discuss every topic imaginable - the weather, family, horse racing - eventually focusing on the local gossip until their routine is disrupted suddenly by the arrival of a stranger - a woman. Each of the men try to impress her by telling spooky tales of the past, but one story is more chilling than all the rest. An intimate play exploring the lives of four Irish men from the country and their attempts to shine in front of a visiting Dublin woman. Often very funny, while at the same time giving a glimpse into the hearts and souls of all involved, this play is both moving and thought provoking and is a beautifully crafted snapshot of Irish life.
The Mount, Christchurch Road, Reading RG1 5HL
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0118 960 6060, or via the web site at
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Review of Colder Than Here
20th to 25th May 2013.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Colder Than Here, at Progress Theatre, Reading, from Monday, May 20 to Saturday, May 25
Death and its effect on the living is something we all have to confront and difficult to portray in the theatre. We all go with our own thoughts, our own prejudices, and our own values. Wade's play tackles these issues.
Carole Hewitt's Myra has terminal bone cancer arid is determined to die on her own terms, revealing a matter-of-fact approach to her condition. She wants to be in control. "You've got to keep yourself busy when you're off work with dying," she dolefully quips. What follows is a succession of 'awkward talks' that the family do not really want to have.
Husband Alec - a fine, restrained performance by Richard Tripp - seems indifferent, as if in denial. When challenged by his daughter as to how he can sit there reading the paper, he remarks: "A watched pot never boils".
Despite appearing to be a heartless man, he is practical. Although busying himself around the literally cold house, he is already grieving. His call to the heating company reveals more than the state of his boiler. The fear, as for all of them, is for the living. Can Alec and his daughters Harriet (Esther Walters) and Jenna (Samantha Bessant) cope emotionally without Myra's strength? It's quite clear at this point that they are a fractured family Moreover evident is that the illness is no more than a framing device for Laura Wade to explore family divisions.
I found the first half rather hard going; the pace unnecessarily slow, with weighty pauses and impassive stares. Such an approach may work in a menacing Pinter but not here. It was only in the second half that it gained any momentum as the four family members began to form the bond conspicuously absent in the earlier scenes.
However, it was all rather too late for my liking, and I found it difficult to connect.
Even the setting looked bleak; a minimalist set standing in for the family home and the proposed green burial grounds. There was very little divide. Maybe the lighting could have been used to greater effect. On a philosophical and cerebral level, it explored our views and approaches to death. However, as drama, it came across as appealing as the cold ground that summoned Myra.
Gaslight, 23rd to 28th February 2015
The Three Musketeers, 15th to 24th January 2015
Mojo, 8th to 13th December 2014
Noises Off, 20th to 29th November 2014
The 9th Annual WriteFest, 15th to 18th October 2014
Darwin & FitzRoy, 8th to 13th September 2014
Getting Over Steven, 4th August 2014
Love's Labour's Lost... And Won, 16th to 26th July 2014
The Roses of Eyam, 14th to 19th July 2014
God of Carnage, 23rd to 28th June 2014
Not About Heroes, 26th to 31st May 2014
Lady Windermere's Fan, 24th April to 3rd May 2014
Murmuring Judges, 1st to 2nd April 2014
Trainspotting, 17th to 22nd March 2014
Bold Girls, 17th to 22nd February 2014
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, 16th to 25th January 2014
After Magritte and The Bald Primadonna, 9th to 14th December 2013
Moonlight and Magnolias, 11th to 16th November 2013
The 8th Annual WriteFest, 17th to 19th October 2013
Macbeth, 18th to 27th July 2013
Blithe Spirit, 17th to 22nd June 2013
Colder Than Here, 20th to 25th May 2013
Little Shop of Horrors, 18th to 27th April 2013
WASP and The Long Road, 18th to 23rd March 2013
The School of Night, 18th to 19th March 2013 at Wycliffe Baptist Church
Rumours, 18th to 23rd February 2013
The Fifth Elephant, 17th to 26th January 2013
The Love of the Nightingale, 10th to 15th December 2012
The 7th WriteFest, 14th to 17th November 2012
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, 15th to 20th October 2012
Calendar Girls, 13th to 22nd September 2012
A Grave Reunion, 15th August 2012
Henry IV Part One, 12th to 21st July 2012
What's Wrong With Angry?, 2nd to 7th July 2012
Mine, 11th to 16th June 2012
Mindgame, 10th to 19th May 2012
A Kind of Alaska and Handbagged, 10th to 14th April 2012
Lord of the Flies, 19th to 24th March 2012
Art, 20th to 25th February 2012
6th Annual WriteFest, 8th to 10th December 2011
The 39 Steps, 17th to 26th November 2011. See the review in the Archive.
Blackbird, 17th to 22nd October 2011
Proof, 12th to 17th September 2011
The Tempest, 23rd to 30th July 2011 at Caversham Court
Under Milk Wood, 5th to 9th July 2011
Enjoy, 6th to 11th June 2011
All My Sons, 5th to 14th May 2011
Teechers, 14th to 19th March 2011
Of Mice and Men, 10th to 19th February 2011
The Ash Girl, 10th to 16th January 2011
Ajax, 25th November to 4th December 2010
Writefest, 4th to 6th November 2010
Metamorphosis, 11th to 16th October 2010
Breathing Corpses, 6th to 11th September 2010
Death and the Maiden, 5th to 10th July 2010
Beary Tales And Bored Office Drones, 18th to 19th June 2010
Is This It?, 14th to 15th June 2010
The Pillowman, 20th to 29th May 2010
Intimate Exchanges, 14th to 24th April 2010
Travesties, 23rd, 26th and 27th March 2010
The Importance Of Being Earnest, 22nd, 24th and 27th March 2010
A Couple of Poor, English-speaking Poles, 1st to 6th March 2010
Going Postal, 28th January to 6th February 2010
Don Juan Comes Back From The War, 15th to 17th December 2009
Much Ado About Nothing, 26th November to 5th December 2009
4th Write Fest, 22nd to 24th October 2009
Closer, 28th September to 3rd October 2009
Little Sweet Thing, 7th to 9th July 2009
Twelfth Night, 29th to 30th June 2009
PYT Week, 29th June to 4th July 2009
The Dianalogues, 8th to 13th June 2009
Popcorn, 7th to 16th May 2009
Entrapment, 16th to 18th April 2009
Macbeth, 30th March to 4th April 2009
I, Bertolt Brecht, 5th to 14th March 2009
3rd Write Fest, 29th to 31st January 2009
Five Children and It!, 29th December 2008 to 10th January 2009. See the review in the Archive.
The Tamer Tamed, 20th to 29th November 2008
Kindertransport, 27th October to 1st November 2008. See the review in the Archive.
Honour, 22nd to 27th September 2008
The Taming of the Shrew, 14th to 26th July 2008
A Right Mouthful, 5th July 2008
Last Resort, 26th to 28th June 2008
The Women of Lockerbie, 19th to 24th May 2008. See the review in the Archive.
Four Nights in Knaresborough, 10th to 19th April 2008. See the review in the Archive.
Return to the Forbidden Planet, 14th to 23rd February 2008. See the review in the Archive.
2nd Write Fest, 17th to 19th January 2008
The Jungle Book, 28th December 2007 to 5th January 2008
Blue/Orange, 19th to 24th November 2007. See the review in the Archive.
My Voice(s), 3rd November 2007
The Veil, 22nd to 27th October 2007
Woman in Mind, 20th to 29th September 2007
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 16th to 28th July 2007. See the review in the Archive.
The Husband Defeated, 10th to 19th May 2007
Decadence and People in Cages, 16th to 21st April 2007
The Insect Play, 26th to 31st March 2007
Far Side, 12th to 15th March 2007 at 21 South Street
Wait Until Dark, 22nd February to 3rd March 2007. See the review in the Archive.
Festival of New Writing, 22nd to 27th January 2007
Alice in Storyland, 28th December 2006 to 6th January 2007
The Good Woman of Setzuan, 16th to 25th November 2006
Hannah and Hanna, 9th to 14th October 2006. See the review in the Archive.
Entertaining Mr Sloane, 7th to 16th September 2006. See the review in the Archive.
2006 Reading Abbey Ruins Open Air Shakespeare: The Winter's Tale, 17th to 29th July 2006. See the review in the Archive.
Dracula, 11th to 15th July 2006. Progress Theatre Student Group.
Skylight, 1st to 10th June 2006
Hot Chit Chat .com and In The Village, They Are Saying, 24th to 29th April 2006
Blasted, 20th to 25th March 2006
Julius Caesar, 1st to 4th March 2006
Breaking the Code, 9th to 18th February 2006. See the review in the Archive.
James and the Giant Peach, 29th December 2005 to 7th January 2006. See the review in the Archive.
Godspell, 10th to 19th November 2005
The Woman who Cooked her Husband, 3rd to 8th October 2005. See the review in the Archive.
... A Many Splendoured Thing, 24th July 2005
2005 Abbey Ruins Open Air Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, 18th to 30th July 2005. See the review in the Archive.
The Government Inspector, 5th to 9th July 2005
Charley's Aunt, 12th to 21st and 28th May 2005
Two New Plays, 4th to 9th April 2005
The Caucasian Chalk Circle, 24th February to 5th March 2005
The Demon Headmaster, 29th December 2004 to 8th January 2005. See the review in the Archive.
The Crucible, 18th to 27th November 2004
Happy Days, 11th to 16th October 2004
The Comedy of Errors, 27th July to 1st August and 11th September 2004
Much Ado About Nothing, 6th to 10th July 2004
Stepping Out, 17th to 26th June 2004. See the review in the Archive.
Too Clever By Half, 26th February to 6th March 2004. See the review in the Archive.
Rama and Sita, 30th December 2003 to 10th January 2004
Two New Plays, 10th to 15th November 2003:
How to Become Famous by Arthur Burke
Generation Games by Kerry Murdock
Copenhagen, 13th to 18th October 2003
Reading Abbey Ruins Shakespeare 2003
The Merchant of Venice, 21st July to 2nd August. See the review in the Archive.
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