Acclaimed family-run pub theatre The Old Red Lion will reopen its doors this winter with an exciting new theatrical season, once again providing quality entertainment and hospitality to North London. Partnering with another local family business, Bombay Burrito, the pub will provide substantial meals to patrons in line with the latest government regulations.
Reflecting on the eventful year, the post-lockdown season of work will offer a streamlined programme of eclectic new writing, providing a live platform for shows that were denied their run at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer, or were created during lockdown. With financial aid from the Arts Council England Cultural Recovery Fund, the venue is now able to welcome back theatre makers and audiences as it continues to champion fringe theatre.
Alongside the already announced digital Christmas production December written by The Old Red Lion’s Artistic Director Alexander Knott, the season will include: the world premiere of David Shopland (My Father The Tantric Masseur; Soho Theatre) and Shereen Roushbaiani’s (Doctors, BBC) Saving Britney, a hilariously heart-breaking take on celebrity obsession and nostalgia to the backdrop of the #FreeBritney movement; John Berry’s dark comedy Happenings about the lengths we’ll go to live when nothing is happening; and Stephanie Dickson’s BARK, a thought-provoking look at terminal illness and finding your place in the world.
Damien Devine, Landlord and Executive Director, commented: “I’m delighted to finally be fully re-opening the Old Red Lion after a difficult few months for us, and the hospitality industry as a whole. The whole family has pulled together to make this possible, and I’m proud of the way we have adapted to the ever-changing challenges of keeping the venue COVID secure. We look forward to welcoming the public back in time for the festive season, and really encourage everyone to support independent and family-run pubs like us during the critical Christmas period.”
Managing Director Helen Devine added: “We are particularly grateful to be in receipt of a grant from the Arts Council Culture Recovery Fund to enable us to open the theatre for the first time since March. We’re excited to welcome theatre-makers and audiences back to the ORL, with a season of live shows in our socially-distanced auditorium as well as our first ever online production.”
To remain Covid-Secure, and ensure social distancing is adhered to, The Old Red Lion, has reconfigured the theatre space to accommodate live audiences. The theatre will run with a reduced capacity of 20 people, offering two performances each evening (6pm and 8.30pm). Social distancing will be in effect throughout the venue, with the use of facemasks and the NHS check-in app as mandatory requirements.
Having helmed the pub for 21 years, the Devine family are keen to ensure a safe reopening and support the local community with their theatre and sports offerings, a must for any Norwich City fans due to the pubs close affiliation with the Capital Canaries. Alongside the implementation of food service, the theatre space can now also be transformed into a bookable socially distanced sports lounge to screen large gaming events. The pub also features two outdoor seating areas with TVs, available for bookings of groups of six from mixed households. The year has been devastating for the hospitality sector, but Damien Devine, Landlord and Executive Director, has rallied his family to make the reopening possible.
The rest of The Old Red Lion’s theatre season includes Big Fan’s Campfire, Matthew Gouldesbrough’s Truth/Reconciliation, and Adam Elliott and Olivier Malam’s The Count of Monte Cristo as follows:
Campfire (produced by Big Fan)
Written by Big Fan
Friday 18 and Monday 21 December
The Campfire is an improvised comedy-horror show. We are to horror what darts is to sport and what Ed Sheeran is to grime. So, come join us around our Christmas Campfire as we improvise some of the spookiest nonsense you’ve ever seen since Jennifer Aniston’s appearance in The Leprechaun 2.
BARK (produced by Joseph Blake)
Written by Stephanie Dickson
Thursday 17 and Saturday 19 December
Helen and Grace, two women who meet in the TV room of a hospital, become unlikely but firm friends. With Christmas coming up, Helen plans something special, only for the night to fall into ruin when she discovers something about her new friend that will change everything.
As they battle their illnesses and try to understand their place in the world, they face the ultimate question: What does it mean to live?
December (produced by Bag of Beard)
Written by Alexander Knott
Sunday 20 December – Tuesday 5 January 2021
December, written by Alexander Knott, is inspired by the character of Bob Cratchitt in A Christmas Carol and had been due to run as a live production over the festive season. The production has now been reimagined for an online audience, with the show being filmed in and around the Old Red Lion Theatre Auditorium. A split of profits will be donated to homelessness charity Hackney Winter Night Shelter.
Truth/Reconciliation (produced by Elegy)
Written by Matthew Gouldesbrough
Monday 28 – Wednesday 30 December
Two people come apart.
Two opposing stories.
They can’t both be true, right?
Performed by a real-life couple, ’Truth/Reconciliation’ is a reflective show about the nature of truth, the need to tell stories and theatre itself.
Happenings (produced by Printers Playhouse)
Written by John Berry
Monday 4 – Friday 8 January 2021
In these tough times, Life’s a struggle. There are unfulfilled expectations. Humdrum existences needing an injection of life. Millions wishing something would happen to them, to fill the void in their lives. Clearly everyone “else” is happy. Online celebrations and holiday pics prove it. Jane can’t take it anymore. She needs that something, anything! But how far is she willing to go to get it? Jo didn’t understand. Jo is happy to just get along. Having normal couple conversations and disagreements. Why do they see the world so differently? Maybe “Mad Fran” has the answer. She at least has the life experience that would suggest she could help.
Saving Britney (produced by Fake Escape)
Written by David Shopland with Shereen Roushbaiani
Wednesday 13 – Saturday 16 January 2021
She was on national TV by the time she was seven. She was an international superstar by sixteen. By 25 she was committed to a mental institution. For Millennials like Jean, they grew up with Britney Spears. They listened to her music. They watched her movies. She was their idol. Over the course of an hour we see the iconic star from Jean’s perspective; why the Princess of Pop influenced her life and how the connections shared between them eventually lead Jean to an unbelievable moment of self-discovery.
Inspired by the #FreeBritney movement, Saving Britney is a hilarious and heartbreaking look at celebrity obsession, sexuality and growing up in the early noughties.
The Count of Monte Cristo (produced by Rather Nifty)
Written by Adam Elliot and Oliver Malam
Tuesday 26 – Saturday 31 January 2020
Three intrepid actors embark on an ambitious attempt to bring to life the classic novel, The
Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas (author of The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas). Adventure, intrigue, romance and revenge. Like Oceans 11 but live, onstage and with one fewer George Clooneys. Our story starts in 1815 (Ancient France). Employee of the month and all-round nice guy, Edmond Dantes, is wrongfully imprisoned, betrayed by those closest to him. After years of suffering, hidden away in an island prison, he escapes and methodically sets a web of intricate traps with which to take his vengeance. Who will suffer, who will be spared? Will Dantes realise his revenge or will it consume him?
The Old Red Lion’s theatre season will run from Friday 18 December 2020 to Sunday 31 January 2021.