What this country needs now is to laugh!.. by James Haddrell, Greenwich Theatre

One of the joys of running a theatre which operates, at least in part, as a receiving house – a theatre that takes in shows that are touring – is that I get to share a huge range of work with our audience.

James Haddrell, Artistic Director, Greenwich Theatre

Where our own shows might have a unifying brief or style, a programme of visiting shows can be utterly diverse.

That said, it is not uncommon for themes to emerge in a season or a year, as theatre-makers across the country are drawn to particular ideas or styles.

National and global politics, current affairs and tabloid culture can all influence the ideas knocking around the zeitgeist, but if there’s a unifying idea on show this season I’d have to say it’s the desire to make people laugh.

I don’t know whether it’s producer caution with audiences still slow to return after Covid, a response to the heat wave where the idea of a heavy drama is just too much, or just theatre companies wanting to have fun, but there seem to be more comedies looking for a home than usual.

The first in the line-up for us is a return to Greenwich for New Old Friends with Crimes On Centre Court.

Last seen here with their Silly Songs of Shakespeare and at the Vaults Festival with The Falcon’s Malteser, this time out the company take us to the world of tennis for a madcap whodunnit.

Based on a story from their own award-winning podcast Comedy Whodunnits for your ears? (which reached No2 in the iTunes fiction chart) the show toured to great acclaim in 2022 and now returns for a second national tour, calling in at Greenwich Theatre on September 13

Then, from September 14-16, Lamphouse Theatre bring their take on the epic Jeff Wayne arena tour and the equally epic Tom Cruise film to the intimate confines of the Greenwich Theatre studio, with War Of The Worlds (On A Budget).

War of the Worlds, Picture: Lamphouse Theatre

With a string of four- and five-star reviews, and named as a ‘must see’ show by Fringe Review, this is everything the title suggests – one actor, lots of cardboard, 25 characters and some home-made tripods – but also boasts a full soundtrack of brand-new music.

The following week, from September 20-23, The Pantaloons are back in Greenwich with their version of The Comedy of Errors, but this is certainly not just for Shakespeare aficionados.

Full of their trademark slapstick (regulars may recall The Pantaloons also taking on The War Of The Worlds in recent years), the show will follow the tale of two sets of ship-wrecked twins, who unknowingly end up in the same place at the same time, with the inevitable chaos that follows.

Mixed in to all of that on September 17, is a special return visit to Greenwich for comedian and mental health campaigner Juliette Burton with her latest show, No Brainer.

A sell-out at Edinburgh with extra shows added to meet demand, I am always thrilled when Juliette brings her performances here – she’s a performer that absolutely should not be missed.

If there’s a general consensus that what this country needs now is to laugh, then with so many acclaimed comedies heading our way I hope a trip to Greenwich Theatre this month could offer the perfect opportunity.



Picture: Crime on Centre Court, Picture: New Old Friends

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