Beaumont Street, Oxford. A map is here.
Zog, 31st May to 2nd June, daytimes
Large in size, and keen in nature, Zog is so eager to win a golden star at Madam Dragon’s school, where dragons learn all the things that dragons need to know. Zog tries so very hard, perhaps too hard, and he bumps, burns and roars his way through years one, two and three. Luckily, the plucky Princess Pearl patches him up ready to face his biggest challenge yet – a duel with Gadabout the Great!
Napoli Brooklyn, 4th to 8th June
1960, Brooklyn, New York. The Muscolinos have raised three proud and passionate daughters, each of them bonded by a fierce love for one another and harbouring a secret longing that could tear the family apart. When an earth-shattering event rocks their neighbourhood, life comes to a screeching halt and the Muscolino sisters are forced to confront their conflicting visions for the future in this gripping, provocative and poignant portrait of love in all its danger and beauty.
Turn of the Screw, 11th to 15th June
1840. A young governess agrees to look after two orphaned children in Bly, a seemingly idyllic country house. But shortly after her arrival, she realises that they are not alone. There are others – the ghosts of Bly’s troubled past. The Governess will risk everything to keep the children safe, even if it means giving herself up to The Others. Years later, confronted by the past she is compelled to account for what actually happened to her and the innocents under her protection.
Rotterdam, 20th to 22nd June
It's New Year in Rotterdam and Alice has finally plucked up the courage to email her parents and tell them she's gay. But before she can hit send, her girlfriend Fiona reveals that he has always identified as a man and now wants to start living as one named Adrian. As Adrian begins his transition, Alice must face a question she never thought she'd ask... does this mean she's straight?
Chekhov's First Play, 26th to 28th June
During the turmoil of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Maria Chekhov, Anton’s sister, placed many of her late brother’s manuscripts and papers in a safety deposit box in Moscow. In 1921 Soviet scholars opened the box and discovered a play. The title page was missing. The play they found has too many characters, too many themes, too much action. All in all, it’s generally dismissed as unstageable. Like life.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 4th to 6th July
The fairy King and Queen have fallen out, and that means the whole world has gone wrong. There’s snow in Summer, heatwaves in Winter and everyone is in love with the wrong person. Amateur actors, fairies and lovers all collide in the woods with life changing consequences. But was it all really just a dream?
Stones in His Pockets, 8th to 13th July
A small village in rural Ireland is turned upside down when a major Hollywood film studio descends to make a historical blockbuster on location. The story is told through the eyes of Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn, employed as extras along with numerous other locals. As cultures clash, it becomes clear that Tinseltown’s romanticised dream of Ireland is a long, long way from reality.
The Girl on the Train, 15th to 20th July
Rachel Watson longs for a different life. Her only escape is the perfect couple she watches through the train window every day, happy and in love. Or so it appears. When Rachel learns that the woman she’s been secretly watching has suddenly disappeared, she finds herself as a witness and even a suspect in a thrilling mystery in which she will face bigger revelations than she could ever have anticipated.
Tabby McTat, 16th to 18th August
Tabby McTat is a cat with the loudest of meee-ews and a best friend with a guitar. Together they sing their favourite songs delighting the crowds, until one day Fred disappears. Separated and alone, Tabby finds shelter and a new life with all the home comforts that any cat could dream of. However, memories of his life with Fred haunt him, and he sets off to search the streets for his long-lost friend.
Little Miss Sunshine, 20th to 24th August
A new musical comedy. The Hoover family has more than a few troubles, but young Olive has her heart set on winning the Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest. When an invitation to compete comes out of the blue, the Hoovers must pile in to their rickety yellow camper van. Can it survive the 800-mile trip from New Mexico to California – and more importantly, can they?
Nigel Slater's Toast, 26th to 31st August
Toast vividly recreates Nigel Slater’s childhood through the tastes and smells he shares with his mother, culminating in the young Nigel’s escape to London. From making the perfect sherry trifle, through the playground politics of sweets, the rigid rules of restaurant dining, and a domestic war over cakes, this is a moving and evocative tale of love, loss and... toast.
Macbeth, 17th to 21st September
Passion, ambition and desire ignite in Shakespeare’s thrilling tragedy. Blazing with tension, energy and passion, experience a powerful new interpretation of Macbeth, the Watermill Ensemble’s boldest production to date. Fuelled by greed, ambition and desire, the Macbeths’ desperation to survive is reflected in the fierce reverberations of Johnny Cash, The xx and The Rolling Stones. See the reviews of the production at the Watermill here.
Two Trains Running, 24th to 28th September
There’s a controversial new president in the White House, and racial tensions are on the rise. It is Pittsburgh, 1969, and the regulars of Memphis Lee’s restaurant are struggling to cope with the turbulence of a rapidly changing world. The diner is in threat of being torn down, a casualty of the city’s renovation project that is sweeping away the buildings of a community, but not its spirit..
Malory Towers, 1st to 5th October
Nostalgic, naughty and perfect for now, Malory Towers is the original ‘Girl Power’ story. Join Wise Children for high jinks, high drama and high spirits, all set to sensational live music and breathtaking animation. Darrell Rivers is starting school with an eager mind and fierce heart. Unfortunately she also has a quick temper! Can she learn to tolerate the infuriating Gwendoline Lacey, or value the kind hearted Sally Hope? Can she save the school play and rescue terrified Mary Lou from the grip of a raging storm? If she can do these things anywhere, she will do them at Malory Towers!
Barber Shop Chronicles, 9th to 12th October
Newsroom, political platform, local hotspot, confession box, preacher-pulpit and football stadium. For generations, African men have gathered in barber shops to discuss the world. These are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling. Barber Shop Chronicles is a heart-warming, hilarious and insightful new play that leaps from a barber shop in Peckham to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra over the course of a single day.
An Inspector Calls, 15th to 19th October
When Inspector Goole arrives unexpectedly at the prosperous Birling family home, their peaceful dinner party is shattered by his investigations into the death of a young woman. His startling revelations shake the very foundations of their lives and challenge us all to examine our consciences. More relevant now than ever, this is a must-see for a whole new generation of theatregoers.
Stick Man, 26th to 30th October
What starts off as a morning jog becomes quite the misadventure for Stick Man: a dog wants to play fetch with him, a swan builds a nest with him, and he even ends up on a fire! How will Stick Man ever get back to the family tree? This award-winning production features a trio of top actors and is packed full of puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves. All ages welcome!
Beauty and the Beast, 19th November to 12th January
Meet Beauty – smart as a whip, bold as brass, with a heart of pure gold. She’s the opposite of the Beast – gruff, rough and in need of a shave. But when Beauty finds herself trapped in a magical castle with the Beast, the two of them have to learn to get along. Will they meet a beastly end? Or have a beautiful ‘happily ever after’? One thing’s for sure, our mismatched pair will need a hand from you to make their dreams come true. Full of super singing, dazzling dancing and lashings of slapstick silliness.
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.