Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

Drip by drip, the National is teasing us with the cast reveals for Network.

Latest to be announced is Douglas Henshall who is to play Max Schumacher in this world-premiere of Lee Hall’s new adaptation of the Oscar-winning film by Paddy Chayefsky.

Directed by Ivo van Hove, the cast also includes Tony award winner Bryan Cranston as Howard Beale, and Michelle Dockery as Diana Christenson.


War Horse puppeteers unveil The Hartlepool Monkey

The original puppeteers who helped bring War Horse to life, and went on to collaborate on Running Wild and The Lorax, are behind a new family-friendly play based on a 200-year-old legend.

Fuel, in association with Stratford Circus Arts, presents Gyre & Gimble’s The Hartlepool Monkey, which opens in Stratford Circus Arts Centre on 19 September then tours the UK, tells the story of a ship wrecked off the Hartlepool coast with just two survivors: the cabin girl and the ship’s mascot, a chimpanzee dressed in a miniature military-style uniform. Terrified of French invasion and unfamiliar with what a Frenchman should look like, the locals put the monkey on trial as a spy with grisly consequence.

At a time when Britain is examining its own tolerance and acceptance of newcomers, The Hartlepool Monkey is a timely production about the irrationality of xenophobia whilst celebrating humanity’s ability to overcome prejudice.
The Hartlepool Facts and Figures:


  • To this day, Hartlepudlians are affectionately known as ‘monkey hangers’
  • During the Napoleonic Wars, most of the Hartlepool population had never met or seen a Frenchman
  • During the spy trial, the Hartlepool Monkey was (unsurprisingly) unable to answer any of the court’s questions and found guilty. The townsfolk then dragged him into the town square and hanged him
  • The Hartlepool Monkey legend lives on today. During football matches between local rivals Darlington and Hartlepool United, the chant, “Who hung the monkey” can often be heard
  • Hartlepool United’s mascot is a monkey called H’Angus the Monkey, and the local Rugby Union team Hartlepool Rovers are known as the Monkeyhangers


Gyre & Gimble was founded by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié, who met on War Horse and went on to become associate puppetry directors of the show. They place puppetry at the heart of storytelling, creating compelling characters to lead audiences through fantastical stories and expand expectations of what puppetry is capable of. Having met whilst working together on War Horse, they went onto co-direct The Elephantom, which transferred to the West End, and have since created puppetry for Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild, new musical The Grinning Man, and Dr Seuss’s The Lorax which returns to the Old Vic in October.
Toby Olié and Finn Caldwell said, 

“We’re very excited to be bringing this story to audiences of all ages, all over the UK. Initially attracted to the tale of The Hartlepool Monkey as it placed an animal at the centre of the narrative, we’ve since become excited about the myth from 19th Century being able to connect to the world today, in particular recent issues of insularity, xenophobia and inclusion. Our chimp we’ve created promises to be a striking new style of puppet for us and we’re assembling a multi-talented cast to bring this playful, anarchic and touching tale to life.”

Rebecca Collingwood, Fred Davis, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, James Duke, Baker Mukasa, Rachel Sanders, and John Trindle
Listings information
19 – 30 Sept Stratford Circus Arts Centre, London 
7 Oct Preston, UCLAN
10 – 14 Oct Northern Stage, Newcastle 
17 – 21 Oct Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff 
24 – 25 Oct Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales
27 Oct Connaught Theatre, Worthing |
31 Oct – 1 Nov Nuffield Theatre, Southampton |
3 – 4 Nov The Lowry, Salford 
7 – 8 Nov Exeter Phoenix, Exeter as part of Fuel Fest with Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter 
10 – 11 Nov Theatre Royal Margate 
14 – 15 Nov Town Hall Theatre, Hartlepool
17 – 18 Nov Unity Theatre, Liverpool 



Let it go, let it go…oh wait. It’s a different Frozen
Suranne Jones (Doctor Foster, Scott & Bailey) and Jason Watkins (Line of Duty, Taboo, W1A) will star in Bryony Lavery’s Frozen. A psychological thriller about a mother whose child goes missing, this Frozen is directed by Jonathan Munby and will play a strictly limited twelve-week season at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from Friday 9 February 2018.


After a triumphant five-star performance of Bernstein’s Candide In Concert and a sell-out five-star 2016 season, the London Musical Theatre Orchestra makes its East London debut at the Hackney Empire on 23rd September with Jerry Herman’s hit show Mack and Mabel
Starring David Bedella as Mack, Natasha J Barnes as Mabel and Tiffany Graves as Lottie, Mack and Mabel is based on the real-life story of Mack Sennett, the legendary director of the golden age of the Hollywood silent film and King Of Comedy, who finds himself bankrupt, alone and obsolete. Forced to sell his studio, he reminisces about the glory days, from the chaos of the Keystone Kops and the splendour of Charlie Chaplin, to his turbulent love affair with rising star Mabel Norman. A world where heroes wore capes, girls were tied to the railway tracks and it all ended with a pie in the face.
Founder Freddie Tapner said: 

“I love Mack and Mabel because it’s one of those shows where you think you don’t know it but you know every song in it. “I Won’t Send Roses”, “Time Heals Everything” and “Tap Your Troubles Away” have all invaded the public consciousness for very good reason – they are timeless classics. I am so excited to have this dream trio lead our cast – David, Natasha and Tiffany bring their sensational voices but also that touch of whimsy which this genre of musical so cries out for. I can’t wait for the 23rd!”

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