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All you need is love as York Theatre Royal reopens on May 17

A celebration of York’s creativity, solo shows featuring Ralph Fiennes and Julie Hesmondhalgh, a new drama about writer Graham Greene and spy Kim Philby and Strindberg’s Miss Julie transposed to 1940s Hong Kong are among highlights in the reopening Love Season at York Theatre Royal.

The theatre will reopen on May 17 with Love Bites, celebrating local artists – poets, performers, singers, dancers, digital artists – who have been commissioned to write love letters celebrating the return to live performances following the easing of government restrictions.

Chief Executive Tom Bird said: “We can’t wait to welcome our audiences back to the theatre in May with The Love Season, an exciting and varied programme of work that celebrates what we’ve all been missing this past year – human connection, the live experience, and a sense of togetherness”.

Performances will be presented with socially-distanced audiences and adhere to the latest Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, to ensure the safety of staff and audiences.

The Love Season opens with Love Bites (17 & 18 May) celebrating York’s creativity with 20 commissioned love letters covering a range of art forms and disciplines. Former Look North presenter Harry Gration will host the evening which has a “Pay What You Feel” ticket policy.

Creative Director Juliet Forster said: “For these very special performances which mark the full re-opening of York Theatre Royal after over a year of closure, we are joining forces with the remarkable talent of many of York’s finest artists to put together an evening of live performance. 

“Drawing on a range of art forms and disciplines, Love Bites will explore the idea of love letters, dedicated to people, places, things, actions, occupations (and much, much more!) in a multitude of ways, all presented in five-minute specially commissioned bite sized chunks”.

The Love Season continues with The HandleBards recounting in their own inimitable way the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet (25 & 26 May), created by three actors cooped up together during lockdown. The result is an unhinged and bonkers, laugh-out-loud version of Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers.

Following sellout performances in the UK and Australia York’s very own drag superstar Velma Celli  brings Love Is Love: A Brief History of Drag (29 May) to the Theatre Royal stage in an electrifying cabaret performance promising heavenly vocals, theatrical swagger and razor sharp wit.

Multi award-winning, BAFTA- nominated actress Julie Hesmondhalgh stars in The Greatest Play in the History of the World (1-5 June), which is touring northern dates after a sellout Edinburgh Festival run and transferring to Manchester and London’s West End. The play was written for Julie by her Brentwood Award winning writer husband Ian Kershaw.

In This Time (8-9 June) the award-winning circus theatre company Ockham’s Razor present a unique take on the trapeze act in a show about time, age and the stories we tell ourselves.

Favourite characters from the hit TV show take to the stage in Twirlywoos Live! (11-13 June) in a show for ages 1+. Also for young audiences comes The Snail and the Whale (2 & 3 July), inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved picture book. This Tall Stories show is for ages 4+

Red Ladder Theatre stage The Damned United (16 June), adapted from David Peace’s novel by Anders Lustgarten and telling the story of Brian Clough’s time as manager of Leeds United. 

Strindberg’s classic Miss Julie (22-26 June), directed by Dadiow Lin, has been adapted by British-Hong Kong writer Amy Ng into a politically-charged story set in 1940s Hong Kong. “Vital, timely adaptation of Strindberg’s play” was the verdict in a 5-star review from The Stage.

Direct from the West End, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical (30 June) will deliver spontaneous musical comedy.

Oliver Ford-Davies and Stephen Boxer star in Ben Brown’s new political drama A Splinter of Ice (6-10 July), presented by the Original Theatre Company. Olivier Award winning Ford Davies plays the writer Graham Greene who travels into the heart of the Soviet Union to meet his old MI6 boss Kim Philby.

Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in the world premiere of T S Eliot’s Four Quartets (26-31 July). This solo theatre adaptation features Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages and Little Giddings which were published together in 1943. The quartet ranges across themes of time, nature and the elements, faith and spirituality, war and mortality.

For more information, interviews, images and press tickets contact The Love Season press officer Steve Pratt  steviepratt@yahoo.co.uk  07951 885558

For full details of The Love Season visit www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

Tickets from £12, with members’ discounts available. 

Members 10-day priority booking opens Friday (April 9), members 5-day priority booking on April 14 and general bookings open April 19 – all from 12noon.

Book online yorktheatreroyal.co.uk 

By telephone 01904 623568, Monday to Saturday 12 noon to 3pm,  from April 14 

In person Thursday to Saturday, 12 noon to 3pm, from April 15


Love Bites press tickets available for performances on 17 and 18 May

Romeo & Juliet – press night, 25 May

The Greatest Play in the History of the World – press night, 1 June

Miss Julie – press night, 23 June

A Splinter of Ice – press night, 6 July

Four Quartets – press night, 26 July

A limited number of press tickets are available for other performances in the season.

See It Safely. York Theatre Royal has been granted the use of Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre’s See It Safely mark. The mark certifies that the theatre is complying with the latest Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, to ensure the safety of our staff and audiences.