Beaumont Street, Oxford. A map is here.
Dick Whittington and His Cat, 23rd November to 6th January
Join us for a pirate, pussycat and rat-packed panto party! Dick Whittington’s heading to town to seek his fortune – he’s heard the streets are paved with gold. But when he gets there, it’s hard to see the gold beneath the grime and King Rat is out to get him! And that’s just the start of his adventures. With his trusty cat in tow and pirate ships on the horizon, Dick’s going to need a little help from you if he’s going to win the day. See the reviews below.
The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, 15th to 19th January
A priceless diamond has been entrusted to the city bank, an institution so corrupt that even the security guards are on the take. Can it be safely stored or will it all go horribly wrong? Following their sell-out hits The Play That Goes Wrong and Mischief Movie Night, Mischief Theatre returns with this smash-and-grab hit comedy, guaranteed to deliver swag loads of laughter!
Sister Act - The Musical, 21st to 26th January
When aspiring singer Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder by her boyfriend, she is taken into a Witness Protection Programme and hidden in the least-likely place she’d ever be found - a convent! Whilst there, Deloris breathes new life into the nuns’ choir turning them into gospel superstars and learns there’s more to life than fame and fortune.
Enron, 30th January to 2nd February
Lucy Prebble’s Enron tells the gripping story of the people behind the 21st century’s greatest financial scandal. Taking us within the inner workings of the Texan energy giant, Enron reveals the tragic danger of imperfect humans corrupted by overwhelming ambition and fuelled by a desire to make a mark on history. As one man rises to unimaginable heights, the company he built up collapses beneath his feet. Performed by University of Oxford students, this fastpaced, hilarious spectacle of a play takes us within the systems that dictate how the world works... but never takes itself too seriously. With velociraptors, frenzied traders and an appearance from Arnold Schwarzenegger, this show has it all.
Art, 4th to 9th February
Art is a phenomenon and one of the most successful plays ever. Having opened in 1996, it took both the West End and Broadway by storm, won Olivier, Tony, Moliere and every other major theatre award, and has been packing in audiences worldwide for more than twenty years. When Serge spends an extortionate amount of money on an all white modernist painting, his close friends Marc and Yvan are baffled. But does their violent reactions to this provocative canvas mirror more dangerous antagonisms towards each other? Yasmina Reza’s dazzling study of friendship, prejudice and tolerance is a masterpiece.
Made in Dagenham, 13th to 16th February
How much injustice can women endure before they rebel? Rita O’Grady is overworked and underpaid - she has finally had enough. It is 1968 and along with her female colleagues at Ford Dagenham, the mother-of-two begins a local battle for equal pay that unexpectedly garners national attention. This prescient tale attests to the continuing struggle for equal rights that wages on today. University of Oxford students present this uplifting musical. Full of energy, grit and passion, Made in Dagenham brings recognition to everyday women standing up for their rights.
The Cat in the Hat, 19th to 23rd February
When the Cat in the Hat steps onto the mat, Sally and her brother are in for a rollercoaster ride of havoc and mayhem! The Cat can rescue them from a dull rainy day, but what mischief do they get up to along the way? Based on the much-loved book by Dr Seuss, The Cat in the Hat features feline frivolity aplenty, with his acrobatic accomplices Thing 1 and Thing 2. With riotous rhymes which have delighted children for over fifty years, infectious humour and spectacular circus for the grown-ups, this wonderfully anarchic show is the purrfect treat for all the family.
The Unreturning, 26th February to 1st March
A British Northern Coastal town. Three young men are coming home from war. Their stories, set at different times over the last 100 years, are beautifully interwoven in this compelling new play by Anna Jordan. Directed by Neil Bettles (Associate Director of Frantic Assembly) and featuring Frantic’s celebrated physicality, The Unreturning explores the profound effect that war has on young lives, and asks what coming home really means. What is home? And when experience has shattered you into a million pieces, will home help to put you together again, or treat you as an ugly truth it does not want to confront?
Chariots of Fire, 12th to 16th March
1924. The Paris Olympic Games. A devout Scottish Christian runs for the glory of God. The son of a Jewish immigrant runs to overcome prejudice. Two young track athletes who live for the beautiful purity of running and who prevail in the face of overwhelming odds. Based on the extraordinary true story of Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, Chariots of Fire is a timeless tale of hope, honour and belief. Adapted from Colin Welland’s Oscar-winning original screenplay, Mike Bartlett's script brings one of the most thrilling Olympic stories to life with a unique fusion of theatre and live athletics. Oxford Theatre Guild is transforming the Playhouse auditorium into its very own stadium giving an immersive experience that evokes the 1924 Paris Olympics, complete with the iconic Vangelis score. The production is dedicated to the memory of another great athlete and Oxford legend - Sir Roger Bannister.
Princess and The Hustler , 22nd to 23rd March
Meet Princess. A cheeky 10-year-old, with a plan to win the Weston-super-Mare Beauty Contest. Trouble is, her mum is busy working several jobs, her brother, a budding photographer, won’t even take her picture and then - The Hustler returns. In 1963 Bristol, as Black British Civil Rights campaigners walk onto the streets, Princess finds out what it really means to be black and beautiful.
The Mousetrap, 25th to 30th March
The scene is set when a group of people gathered in a country house cut off by the snow discover, to their horror, that there is a murderer in their midst. Who can it be? One by one the suspicious characters reveal their sordid pasts until at the last, nerve-shredding moment the identity and the motive are finally revealed. Experience shuddering suspense and a brilliantly intricate plot where murder lurks around every corner.
Nell Gwynn, 5th to 6th April
London, 1660. King Charles II has exploded onto the scene with a love of all things extravagant and sexy. And in the West End, a young Nell Gwynn is causing a stir amongst the theatregoers... This warm-hearted, bawdy comedy charts the rise of an unlikely heroine, from her impoverished roots as an orange seller to her success as Britain's most celebrated actress, winning the adoration of the public and the heart of the King. But at a time when women are second-class citizens, will her charm and spirit be enough to protect her from the dangers of the Court?
In the Willows, 9th to 10th April
Mole’s first day in ‘The Willows’. The kids look a bit rough. Surely Mr Badger will look out for her, while hip-hop cool girl Rattie, rich kid rapper Toad and street-dancing Otter teach her the ways of the Riverbank. But when Toad gets locked up for joyriding, the Weasel Clan break in and squat his pad, the Pool Hall. Now it's only a matter of time before Chief Weasel reveals Mole’s dark secret... All performances will be performed in British Sign Language.
Dinosaur World Live, 12th to 13th April
Grab your compass and join our intrepid explorer across unchartered territories to discover a pre-historic world of astonishing (and remarkably life-like) dinosaurs. Meet a host of impressive creatures, including every child's favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor and Segnosaurus! A special meet and greet after the show offers all our brave explorers the chance to make a new dinosaur friend. Don’t miss this entertaining and mind-expanding jurassic adventure, live on stage.
The Remains of the Day, 16th to 20th April
A deeply atmospheric drama about time and memory, loneliness and longing, The Remains of the Day depicts the morally-compromised truth behind a world of manicured gardens, formal dinners and grand houses. As the fires rage through England during and after the Second World War, we get an intimate glimpse into one man’s half-lived life, realised too late.
Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs), 14th to 18th May
What the HELL is the world coming to? Mayor Goodman has been assassinated. And so has his dog. Contract killer Macheath has just married Pretty Polly Peachum and Mr and Mrs Peachum aren't happy. Not one bit. Kneehigh are back with their theatrical tour-de-force Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs). Based on John Gay's classic musical satire, Beggar’s Opera, Kneehigh’s extraordinary cast of actor musicians shoot, hoot and shimmy their way through this twisted morality tale for our times.
Reviews of Dick Whittington and His Cat
23rd November 2018 to 6th January 2019
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
The cat's whiskers
Dick Whittington and His Cat, at the Oxford Playhouse, until January 6
Steve Marmion's fourth pantomime for the Oxford Playhouse, Dick Whittington and His Cat, has a big show feel, with its exuberant array of showbiz numbers and lively renditions of pop hits.
I loved the witty homage to the rap musical Hamilton that opens the second half, the vibrant Spice Girls Wannabe routine set on an exotic island and the loud, anarchic Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit imitation, the cast's energy radiating an infectious bonhomie and sense of togetherness. Naturally there are Brexit and Boris gags, and even the new Doctor Who makes an appearance in an unexpected reflection of girl power.
Last year's Jack, Ricky Oakley, returns as Dick, his Midlands boyband persona a featherlight soufflé of naive yet bold intentions. Also back as baddie is Max Olesker, whose King Rat is a delicious fusion of acid drops and gobstoppers. Alessandro Babalola, another returnee, plays the Cat with rat issues, stealing the show with his rapping, gyrating cockiness, a feline humorously disarmed in an instant by a tickle from the show's heroine, Alice (Adrianna Bertola).
Making his third appearance as a Playhouse panto dame, Paul Barnhill's Sarah The Cook dispenses innuendos emerging naturally from his gender-swapping casting. Tim Treloar, who amazed in the Watermill's House and Garden last year and in Birdsong that toured to the Playhouse this year, demonstrates his versatility in the role of Mr Fitzwarren, the Welsh baker who is in debt to King Rat. His adlibs to an audience volunteer about an acting career are worth the ticket price alone.
Hannah says: My favourite character is Alice, and the reason I like Alice so much is that she has a great singing voice and I loved the singing the most in the pantomime. The rats' song was my favourite because they were the ones who had most poses. Sarah The Cook was the funniest character in the whole of the pantomime. She was more than one person, first she was like a cook, then she was a swimming ladyboy, then at the end she dressed up all pink. I give it a hundred star review!
and HANNAH LEWIS (aged 7)
Review from The Guardian.
Fantastic panto is the rat's whiskers
With showers of sweets, a street-smart feline and plenty of gags for the grown-ups, this is a supremely comic production
You don’t expect panto to tamper with the classic ingredients: ear-busting songs, dance routines, topical jokes and bombardments of sweets from the stage that whip the kids into a frenzy. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen them all come together quite so enjoyably as in this fantastically good-natured production. Soho theatre’s artistic director, Steve Marmion, who has masterminded the Playhouse’s Christmas offering for the past three years, has done an excellent job again. Swerving tabloid-famous walk-ons, he has assembled a hard-working, well-marshalled cast who cover all the bases with style.
So we have clean-cut Ricky Oakley as Dick, accompanied by all-action Alessandro Babalola as his feline chum, who provides our starry-eyed hero with street-smart, world-weary wisdom. Fairy Bowbells (Rebecca Craven) loiters on the gantry providing the overview, while Adrianna Bertola is feisty baker’s daughter Alice, who ends up spearheading a voters’ revolt.
No prizes for guessing that there are gags about everything from the Brexit bus to Boris Johnson, while the “grown-up” jokes about our hero’s first name are as old as time itself – but Babalola’s nicely snarky Oxford-baiting reference to Stormzy was properly leftfield.
As for the trad panto comic business, veteran dame Paul Barnhill does the honours as the cook (showing off, incidentally, a fine baritone voice), and Max Olesker is really very funny as an Anthony Blanche-ish King Rat. (In truth, pantos are never actually that hilarious, but I found myself laughing out loud at some of Olesker’s lines.)
My two small companions, as ever, screamed like mad whenever they were invited to do so – the he’s-behind-you business was brief but highly concentrated, and they seemed on the verge of taking the roof off. They nearly fell out of their seats when Babalola scrambled practically over their heads during an in-the-audience bit. (Their only substantial complaint was that the cook failed to aim a pack of Haribo straight at them when he was hurling sweets into the audience, but I think this counts as a Life Lesson.) On a more inspiring note, my eight-year-old was much taken with the chance to vote in the mayoral elections at the play’s finale, and – without wanting to give too much away – the unexpected candidacy of one of the cast.
There are reviews from The Stage ("unfocused but spectacular, musical extravaganza of a pantomime" - 3 stars), the Oxford Times ("an absolute triumph... so much fun... when it finished I just wanted to watch it all over again... hugely enjoyable and the best example of modern day pantomime I can possibly envisage... my favourite Playhouse pantomime in living memory" - 5/5), DailyInfo ("this is definitely panto in all its traditional glory: there are dance routines, power ballads, shaving foam accidents, audience participation pieces, and an epic struggle between good and evil").
Jack and the Beanstalk (November 2017)
Cinderella (November 2016)
Aladdin (November 2015)
Beauty and the Beast (December 2014)
Robin Hood (November 2013)
Dick Whittington, 30th November 2012 to 13th January 2013. See the reviews in the Archive.
Mother Goose, 2nd December 2011 to 15th January 2012. See the reviews in the Archive.
Cinderella, 3rd December 2010 to 16th January 2011. See the reviews in the Archive.
Jack and the Beanstalk, 4th December 2009 to 17th January 2010. See the review in the Archive.
Sleeping Beauty, 5th December 2008 to 18th January 2009. See the review in the Archive.
Aladdin, 30th November 2007 to 13th January 2008. See the review in the Archive.
Dick Whittington, 1st December 2006 to 14th January 2007. See the review in the Archive.
Cinderella, December 2005. See the review in the Archive.
Guys and Dolls, by Oxford Operatic Society, 21st to 26th November 2005. See the review in the Archive.
Peter Pan, December 2004. See the review in the Archive.
For more details
see the Playhouse's web site at www.oxfordplayhouse.com.