The Progress Theatre website is at www.progresstheatre.co.uk. You can find details of the Youth and Student Groups there.
Lady Windermere's Fan, 24th April to 3rd May, 19:45
Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy sees the trials and tribulations of the upper classes take to the stage. Lady Windermere’s Fan sees the Lady herself vying for her husband’s affection with the scheming Mrs Erlynne, the Duchess of Berwick selling scandal wherever she can, and the gentlemen of London discussing all the important issues of the day: cigars, port and the fairer sex. This is a brilliant example of Wilde’s wit, and it is easy to see why after its publication he became an overnight success. Full of classic quotes and unforgettable characters, audiences have been enjoying Lady Windermere’s Fan for over 100 years. As Lord Darlington observes, "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
Not About Heroes, 26th to 31st May, 19:45
By Stephen MacDonald. Not about Heroes explores the relationship between World War One poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. The action is replayed through the eyes of an older Sassoon, as he recalls his friendship with Owen. Their relationship begins when Owen arrives at Craiglockhart War Hospital in 1917, suffering the effects of shellshock. Here he meets Sassoon, who has been diagnosed as suffering from "war neurosis" as a result of his protest against the war. The course of their friendship and their poetry is shown through extracts from the real diaries and letters of the two men, right up to their last meeting - when Sassoon was recovering from a head wound that would end his military career while Owen waited to return to the Western Front, where he would be killed shortly afterwards. A play laced throughout with beautiful and familiar poetry, this is a moving piece of theatre with a real historical and literary relevance today.
God of Carnage, 23rd to 28th June, 19:45
By Yazmina Reza, adapted by Christoper Hampton. Alan and Annette’s eleven year old son has hit Michael and Veronica’s son in the face with a stick, resulting in two broken teeth. The parents of the boys agree to discuss the playground incident at a superficially civilised get-together, but, as the night wears on and drinks are imbibed, the meeting degenerates into name calling and mutual dislike. The couples initially spar against each other, but the men gang up on the women and the spouses switch sides as the fighting continues. By the end of the encounter, their acid dialogue has burned through the veneer of smug, bourgeois respectability, with alternately comic and uncomfortable consequences.
The Roses of Eyam, 14th to 19th July, 19:45
By Don Taylor. A Progress Youth Theatre production. In September 1665 The Great Plague was carried, via cloth brought from London by a village tailor, to the sleepy Derbyshire village of Eyam. That autumn the Black Death held the village in its grip, and the following spring saw even more villagers fall to the disease. The Roses of Eyam tells a story of extraordinary bravery and self-sacrifice as the villagers determine to isolate themselves from the rest of the country to stop the spread of the last outbreak of the plague in Britain.
Love's Labour's Lost... And Won, 16th to 26th July, 19:45
An open air production at Caversham Court Gardens, Church Road, Caversham RG4 7AG. By William Shakespeare. Love's Labour's Lost... and Won is a comedy of wit and romance; loaded with animal imagery, it pits the sexes against each other in a battle for supremacy in the game of love. Above all, this production will look to bring the comedy to the fore in order that it will delight modern audiences and leave them laughing away into the night. Further to this though, it seeks to explore the various themes and questions Shakespeare poses about love. By embracing the clash between the fairytale ideal and the baser nature of man, the production takes inspiration from folk tales from around the globe to imbue its characters with nuances and personalities that will give added depth to the tale told. In addition, as the play is set in the open air surroundings of a park, full use will be made of the fact that the performances will take place in that very setting, not merely limiting the play to the stage. The Lords who swear oaths to avoid all the delights of man, including the presence of women, are embodied by predators that seek such things by their very nature: Lion, Wolf, Bear and Boar. In turn, the Ladies, who arrive to test and undermine these men's self-discipline, outwardly appear to be the innocent prey that is coveted the most: Unicorn, Fox, Rabbit and Lamb. As the play unfolds it will become clear that the traditional hunter does not always win the day, as is often found in the stories and fables told throughout the centuries. It must be said that these personifications will not be overt stereotypes nor actors playing full blown animals but rather subtly building a world that creates a folk tale of its own. The main subplot, with Costard and Armado duelling over Jaquenetta, takes inspiration from the Owl, the Rooster and the Swallow; a story that speaks as much of the rivalry between night and day as does the play's tale of suitors that are polar opposites in their intentions. This world is filled out by creatures of the countryside, all of whom represent a different element of the wit and intellect theme: Badger, Donkey, Squirrel and Toad. Their perceptions of the protagonists muddled love lives offering insights and comedy in equal measure. This production is a true ensemble piece and it is in the Love's Labour's Won play-within-a-play that the supporting cast members come to fore, being granted greater significance than afforded them in the original's structure. It is not known whether Shakespeare's sequel to Love's Labour's Lost was itself lost or subsequently rewritten to be given a separate identity as a play of its own. Two of the more likely candidates, Much Ado About Nothing and The Taming of the Shrew, have been abridged to become the entertainment for the Lords and Ladies. These two options will be performed on alternate nights, offering the audience the chance to question whether they could truly have once been Shakespeare's missing work, as well as having the opportunity to enjoy another piece of classic comedy.
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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.
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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