One for the Diary: Hard Times

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Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, April 17 to 21

The latest Northern Broadsides production, Hard Times, visits town next month.

This new adaptation by Deborah McAndrew of Charles Dickens’s great northern novel is directed by Northern Broadsides’ resident director Conrad Nelson.

Imagine a world where imagination is forbidden. Coketown is such a place. Thomas Gradgrind will not permit fanciful thoughts in his school or his home. But what effect will this policy have on his own children, Tom and Louisa? How can he protect them from corrupting influences – especially when the circus comes to town?

Dark satanic mills, interrupted by the colour and vibrancy of Sleary’s Circus, set the stage for a sweeping tale of supressed love, seduction and social mores, peopled with the sharply-observed exaggerated characters that Dickens is celebrated for.

Director Conrad Nelson says: “Nestled amongst the charcoal-etched towers of Dicken’s fictional Coketown sit the bold stripes of Ringmaster Sleary’s Gilliam-like circus tent. It is in this vibrant three-ringed arena that we set our play and where we celebrate life, risk, adventure and the power of imagination.

“Audiences will meet the characters below a big top where the flames of a circus fire-eater become the flaming coals of the inscrutable young Louise Gradgrind as she stares into the fire, searching for something within herself that she knows is missing, and where the taught line of the tightrope walker becomes the precarious strand of Stephen Blackpool’s happiness between an ill-advised early marriage and the promise of a future with the true love of his life.”

Performances: 7.30pm on Tuesday April 17, Wednesday April 18 and Friday April 20; at 1.30pm and 7pm on Thursday April 19; and at 2.30pm and 7.30pm on Saturday April 21.

Tickets: 01723 370541