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On The Table Read, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, Shakespeare North Playhouse announce the first wave of exciting new theatre, comedy and events for 2023 in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio Publication.

Shakespeare North Playhouse‘s 2023 programme features a host of local legends, ground-breaking productions and creative workshops that pay homage to the First Folio and its historic significance.

The First Folio

The First Folio, is the first collection of Shakespeare’s work that was collated and published in 1623. This
collection is made up of 36 plays and without it, many of Shakespeare’s most revered works would have been lost. Now, 400 years on from its publishing, Shakespeare North Playhouse will celebrate this achievement, staging a selection of theatre and events that celebrate the First Folio and the cultural heritage of Prescot.

The Cockpit Theatre

Our 2023 Cockpit Theatre season begins with ‘An Evening with Angela Griffin’ on the 28th January, the baton having been passed to the popular actor and television and radio presenter. Angela, who is about to be seen starring in the reboot of BBC drama series Waterloo Road will be interviewed by screenwriter and award-winning beloved children’s author, Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Hailing from Rainhill, Frank is one of the most respected screenwriters working in the British film industry, he will be taking to The Cockpit Theatre stage for ‘An Audience with Frank Cottrell-Boyce’ on the 4th February.

Comedian Freddy Quinne will be hosting the comedy evening ‘Bare Faced Comedy’, on the 7th of February. Local legend, Hollyoaks, Brookside and Grange Hill creator, Sir Phil Redmond, joins Shakespeare North for ‘Phil Redmond – The Bloke from Down the Road’ on the 16th February. Local theatre company, Imaginarium Theatre, will return with their much-loved production Strange Tale, 10th 11th February, a play that explores Shakespeare’s connections with Prescot through a time-travelling adventure, that blows apart the myths, the man and the missing years.

The first Cockpit Theatre co-productions for 2023 are :

The Comedy Of Errors

The Comedy of Errors (more or less), a co-production with Stephen Joseph Theatre, will open at Shakespeare North Playhouse on Friday 3 March 2023 running until Saturday 25 March 2023. Based on
William Shakespeare’s original text and adapted by Elizabeth Godber and Nick Lane, the production will
be directed by Paul Robinson.

The creative team is confirmed as Jess Curtis (Design), Chuma Emembolu (Lighting Design), Simon Slater (Composer and Sound Designer), Wayne Parsons (Movement Director and Choreographer) and Alex Weatherhill (Musical Director). Casting will be led by Sarah Hughes with casting to be announced.

The Book Of Will

Lauren Gunderson’s ‘The Book of Will’, a co-production with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Octagon Theatre Bolton, will make its European and UK premiere at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch before taking to the stage at Shakespeare North Playhouse from Thursday 19 October until Saturday 11 November 2023.

Lauren Gunderson is one of the USA’s most celebrated and widely performed playwrights, most recently writing the acclaimed adaptation of The Time Traveller’s Wife (Storyhouse, Chester). Directed by the Octagon’s Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham, further creatives and casting are to be announced.

Much Ado About Nothing

The HandleBards will be returning to Shakespeare North for their laugh-out-loud version of ‘Much Ado
About Nothing’ by William Shakespeare 14th to the 17th June.

King Lear

HER productions will also be returning with their all-female adaptation of William Shakespeare’s King Lear, ‘Lear’ 21st to 24th June, bringing their iconic twist to the aging monarch.


Shakespeare North Playhouse are committed to the development of new work and in this will also be supporting a selection of companies in the research and development of new work. This opportunity gives theatre companies a space to create in Shakespeare North’s Studio. This season, Tmesis Theatre will be working on their latest production entitled ‘Seal Skin’ from 17th-20th January, and trans activist and Sex Education star Felix Mufti will workshop his new play ‘be gay, do crime’, from 13th-17th March, with a sharing on Friday 17th


Opening the 2023 performance season in the Studio is ‘Identities’, on 14th January. From Close to Home Productions, Identities is “a play about boobs” created through verbatim interviews with medical experts and people with lived experience of breast cancer.


After ten years of breaking boundaries in their local communities, the disabled artists of RAWD, a company dedicated to helping disabled people grow within the arts, will stage ‘SUPER!’ on 19th March, where disabled perspectives take centre stage through the electric lens of superheroes.

Lost In Blue

One of the UK’s most acclaimed storytellers, Deborah Newbold, will take to the Studio in her surreal
one-woman show ‘Lost in Blue’ from 28-29th April.

Dirty Corset

Set in the North of England 1687, Bang Average theatre will stage ‘Dirty Corset’ from 3-4th May – a raucous, surreal comedy about desire, the struggle for freedom and queer love.

The Heights

Prescot based, Imaginarium Young Actors, present their 2023 National Connections production The Heights 6-8th April, written by Derry Girls creator, writer and executive producer Lisa McGee and directed by Kieran McCarthy-Hoare.

Spoken Word Nights

‘Itch’ and ‘Scratch’ Spoken Word Nights will be continuing at Shakespeare North , where local and featured artists are invited for a fun night of poetry, comedy and music. New ‘Theatre Explorer’ tours will also be running, where families can enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at our venue through an exciting interactive journey through the building.



An Evening with Angela Griffin

28th January 2023

Picking up the baton from her interview with Johnny Vegas in July, actress and television presenter
Angela Griffin will be chatting about her brilliant career, from Waterloo Road to Bake Off to Postman

Leeds-born Angela is a firm favourite with audiences around the world. Her road to success began in
1993 when, as a 16-year-old, she assumed the role of hairdresser Fiona Middleton in ITV’s Coronation
Street. Since then Angela has appeared in a wide variety of much-loved dramas from Cutting It, Lewis
and Holby City to Netflix series White Lines and more recently Irvine Welsh’s Crime. Angela is currently
filming BBC One’s Waterloo Road in which she will reprise the role of Kim Campbell, now Head Teacher
at the iconic secondary school. She can also be heard every Sunday night on BBC Radio Two’s Unwind
with Angela Griffin.

An Audience with Frank Cottrell-Boyce

4th February 2023

Hailing from Rainhill and becoming one of the country’s most beloved children’s writers, Frank Cottrell-Boyce is here for an evening of warmth, laughter and tales of his incredible career.

Frank Cottrell-Boyce is an award-winning author and screenwriter. Millions, his debut children’s novel,
won the CILIP Carnegie Medal. He is also the author of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again, Cosmic,
Framed, The Astounding Broccoli Boy and Noah’s Gold. His books have been shortlisted for a multitude
of prizes, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Whitbread Children’s Fiction Award (now
the Costa Book Award) and the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth was shortlisted
for the 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal.

Bare Faced Comedy

7th February 2023

Join Shakespeare North Playhouse, for a laugh-out-loud evening of stand-up comedy, hosted by
comedian Freddy Quinne. Featuring the following line up:

Scott Bennett
Stephen Bailey
Tez Ilyas

Strange Tale

10th –11th February 2023

Imaginarium Theatre return to the Cockpit stage with their comic play exploring Shakespeare’s links to Prescot through a time-travelling adventure! Blowing apart the myths, the man and the missing years.

Will Shakespeare is in Prescot, but who knows why or how. His Tudor days seem far away from the here
and now. He needs the help of locals, as time is running out – his memory is fading, his writing future is
in doubt!

Who are the Shakespeare detectives, and how can they help? How does a mysterious portal in the
barber shop where the Prescot Playhouse once stood, provide a clue to getting Will home? Who is Lord
Strange, and why is he so extraordinarily strange? And why does Will spend so much time at the pub?

Join the bard at the bar for an unforgettable night of music, mystery, and mayhem.

Imaginarium are a local creative company who host spectacular productions of Shakespeare plays and
literary classics in parks, gardens and great halls across the North West.

Imaginarium Theatre is an Associate Company of the Shakespeare North Playhouse

Phil Redmond – The bloke from down the road

16th February 2023

Join us in our Cockpit Theatre to hear from a local legend, the ‘bloke from down the road’, and the
creator of some of your TV favourites including Grange Hill, Hollyoaks and Brookside.

Sir Phil Redmond will be interviewed by BBC Radio Merseyside presenter Ngunan Adamu, and will tell all
about his extraordinary life from having grown up in Huyton to being knighted in 2020 for his services to
arts in the regions. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from a local lad with a story to tell.

The Comedy of Errors (more or less)

Written by William Shakespeare
Adapted by Elizabeth Godber and Nick Lane
Produced by Shakespeare North Playhouse and Stephen Joseph Theatre

Friday 3rd March – Saturday 25th March 2023

Previews: 3, 4 & 6 March 2023
National & Regional Press Night: Tuesday 7 March 2023, 7pm

Two rival states. Two sets of mismatched twins. One nutty day at the seaside.

An actor from Lancashire arrives in a Yorkshire coastal town to perform his ‘magnificent’ one man show.
Trouble is, there’s no audience – everyone’s booked for a Talent Show across town starring the twin
brother he’s never met.

His twin brother owes money all over town, has promised his wife a gold chain and is banking on
winning the talent show to avoid getting in trouble with some unsavoury characters…

Will the twins discover each other? Will they learn how they became separated? Will either show go on
at all?

Join us for an unforgettable night at the theatre as Shakespeare’s most bonkers farce is brought to life in
the eighties. Expect mistaken identity, theatrical chaos and belting musical numbers in the era of big
phones and even bigger shoulder pads!

Much Ado About Nothing- HandleBards

14th – 17th June

The HandleBards cycle from venue to venue bringing their unique brand of Shakespeare to audiences
across the globe. Join them at the Cockpit Theatre for an unhinged and bonkers, laugh-out-loud version
of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. With music, mayhem and more costume changes than you can shake a spear at, expect the HandleBards usual irreverent, charming and hilarious style to come
bursting onto the stage. “

An exceptional touring production…explodes with energy and is a genuine treat from start to finish” The Stage, on The HandleBards’ Twelfth Night.

LEAR- HER Productions

21st – 24th June

Unseemly Women return in 2023 with their female-led twist on LEAR. LEAR marks Unseemly Women’s fourth annual Shakespeare; bringing their twist on the iconic aging monarch, who, before dividing up their vast kingdom between their daughters, asks them to prove which loves them best.

The Book of Will

By Lauren Gunderson
Produced by Shakespeare North Playhouse, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Octagon Theatre Bolton

Thursday 19th October – Saturday 11th November 2023
Regional Press Night: Friday 20 October 2023, 7pm

The King’s Men are getting the band back together. Their goal: to gather the Bard’s scattered masterpieces and save his words before they’re lost to history.

Shakespeare has barely been dead for 3 years when a pirated Hamlet rip-off hits a stage near the Globe Theatre. His old acting troupe friends are livid. To save Will’s works for the ages, they hatch a near impossible plan to collect his words on paper, setting them off on a bonkers race against time through London. Their hearts are on the line and those they love are counting on them – to maybe leave a legacy that will last forever.


Identities- Close to Home Productions

14th January 2023

A play about boobs.

Supported by Arts Council England, Culture Warrington and Prevent Breast Cancer, Rae Bell’s Identities
is a play all about boobs! From bra fittings to breast cancer diagnosis, Lucy’s boobs tell her story in 60
minutes, the time it takes to perform a standard lumpectomy. Created through interviews with medical
experts and those who have lived experience of breast cancer, the funny and moving story unclasps the
hidden adventures our boobs go on, the good and the bad.

Seal Skin – Tmesis Theatre

(A research and development production)

20th January 2023

In a village far away, by the harsh and wild landscape of the sea, a fisherman steals a Selkie’s skin… A
story of witchcraft, power and grief envelop in a battle of longing and belonging. This sharing is a work in progress, following a two-week research period, and informed by a series of workshops with women and young people.

Liverpool’s Tmesis Theatre creates, develops, and shares world class physical theatre through performance, participation and an international festival.

be gay, do crime.

(A research and development production)

17th March 2023

be gay, do crime is a rap musical about gay drug dealers from Garston. Scallys meet musical theatre in this hip-hop, drug-fueled extravaganza. Fish and Ass are best friends who dream of world denomination through their rapping ‘abilities.’ Their Garston ‘cartel’ is all run from Fish’s little nan’s house. All they’ve ever known is ‘drug deal, don’t feel’, but things change when ‘camp as Christmas’ Alex appears on the scene, who is secretly dating Fish for months without Ass knowing. But with their ex’s Ketty and Petty on their tails, alongside nosey bizzie neighbours, that’s the least of their worries.

Will Merseyside Police catch these vagabonds? Will Fish and Ass’s rap career ever take off? Or will they discuss maturely that the reason they’re in this situation is a cycle of crime, a lack of opportunities for young people and a curriculum that fails the majority of students? Find out in this rehearsed reading of be gay, do crime.

This is the first development stage of a full length musical, played without set and minimal costume/props.


Sunday 19th March 2023

After ten years of breaking boundaries in their local communities, the disabled artists of RAWD take on the UK in this debut touring production, SUPER! We are all born super, you decide if you want to be a hero.

Devised from a 3 month R&D process with 25 disabled artists, see RAWD’s debut touring production, Super!

Filled with physicality, music and innovative storytelling this vibrant ensemble show is a journey of self discovery where disabled perspectives take centre stage through the electric lens of superheroes. Brighten your spring with fun, accessibility and coloured capes!

The Heights – National Theatre Connections Show

6th – 8th April 2023

Imaginarium Young Actors present their 2023 National Theatre Connections production.

Lillie lives on the Heights Estate; a place where nothing ever happens, except in Lillie’s head. Lillie’s not like most people. For starters, she never goes out, but sits in her bedroom window on the sixth floor of her tower block, watching the world and the people in it go by. As she sits, she makes up stories: some sad, some happy, some funny. But they are just stories, aren’t they?

Lisa McGee, an award-winning screenwriter and playwright from Derry, is the creator, writer and executive producer of Derry Girls. She co-created, co-wrote and was executive producer on The Deceived with her husband Tobias Beer and was creative director, executive producer and wrote an episode of the BBC monologues on poverty Skint. Her other TV work includes London Irish, Raw, Being Human, The White Queen and Indian Summers.

Lost in Blue

Fri 28th Sat 29th April 2023

Nominated – 2022 Off West End Award for Lead Performance
Nominated – 2022 Standing Ovation Award
Winner – 2016 Summerhall Acting Award
★★★★★ “astounding” – Theatre Eddys
★★★★ “as hilarious as it is poignant” – Broadway Baby
★★★★ “Fascinating” – Reviews Hub

Funny, moving, uplifting and at times downright bizarre, Lost In Blue is a tour de force of contemporary
storytelling fueled by playful sound technology.

On her 18th birthday Annie becomes convinced that she’s responsible for the accident that has left her
father Paul in a coma for the last 15 years. Her mother Sarah is struggling to keep things together, her
aunt Candy eats optimism for breakfast and her new friend Leonard talks mainly to pigeons. Meanwhile, Paul is hiding out in the bedroom of Vincent Van Gogh nursing his terrible secret while the clock ticks and his family begin to question how long the machines should keep him holding on.

Hilarious and raw by turns, Lost In Blue is “a beautiful and intricate story” (★★★★ Three Weeks) with a live looped score, written and performed by multi award-winning theatre maker Debs Newbold.

Dirty Corset- Bang Average Theatre

3rd – 4th May 2023

The North of England in 1687: a company of flea-bitten actors try and fail to live up to their on-stage
personas. A bawd, a hopeless romantic and a pus-filled buffoon fight impressively for your attention. A raucous, surreal comedy about desire, the struggle for freedom and queer love.

‘..sheer silliness and gross-out humour..’ The Stage ****

‘…heavy subject matter, such as syphilis, miscarriage, and unrequited love, is handled with a
perfect mix of both sincerity and light-heartedness.’ Era Journal

Using a blend of physical theatre and Restoration theatrical flourishes, award-winning Dirty Corset encapsulates the essence of the 17th century, a sometimes-forgotten period, in all of its disgusting glory.

Theatre Explorer Tours

Time to get your explorers hats on! Are you curious about all the little nooks and crannies in our new venue? Fancy a closer look, as well as some fun activities along the way?

With our Theatre Explorers tours, you and your little ones can enjoy an exciting behind-the-scenes look at our one-of-a-kind new venue, including hunts and trails, multimedia activities, and even the chance to
meet a performer along the way! Packed with history and fascinating facts that will blow your socks off,
these tours are for anyone that loves to learn, and are the perfect way to feed yours and your little ones’ curiosity and creativity.

Itch: Spoken Word Night

Itch is a spoken word night for anybody looking to dip their toe in.

• Have you always wanted to give it a go?
• Did you used to write/perform a lot and want to get back into it?
• Have you never heard of spoken word and are wondering what it’s all about?

Then come down, listen, share and get the itch. We are primarily looking for poets and spoken word artists but artists of other disciplines are welcome to approach us to discuss how they can get involved.

Scratch: Spoken Word Night

Are you hungry for opportunities to perform? Have you got at least five minutes of polished work ready to scratch?

This is a call out for artists of any discipline with a focus on spoken word. A fun night of Poetry, Comedy
and Music by local and featured artists.

Shakespeare North Playhouse

Located in Prescot, ground-breaking new venue Shakespeare North Playhouse is home to the only 17th century style, timber-built “Cockpit” theatre outside London, able to configured in to two formations end-on and in-the-round.

Built entirely during the pandemic thanks to public funds and donations, the new venue is anticipated to attract over 140,000 visitors a year to the region.

Lead architect for the project is Helm Architecture, and Austin-Smith: Lord as support architect.

Housed inside this modern, energy-efficient building, the venue is also home to a fully-accessible outdoor performance garden funded by the Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation, exhibition gallery, 60- seater studio theatre, learning centre, events spaces, and a café and bar with outdoor piazz.

Tickets can be bought online, by telephone or at the shop inside Shakespeare North Playhouse
Booking Line: 0151 433 7156
Prospero Place, Prescot L34 3AB

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