The Barn doors are wide open again as live performances return to historic Welwyn Garden City theatre

Howard Salinger as Brian, Alex Ryde as Mr McCafferty, and Tammy Wall as Donna in the Barn Theatre's production of Class.

Howard Salinger as Brian, Alex Ryde as Mr McCafferty, and Tammy Wall as Donna in the Barn Theatre's production of Class.

Live performances return to Welwyn Garden City's historic Barn Theatre next month.

After months of lockdown, the Barn Theatre finally throws open the doors on Tuesday, July 6 for a Studio production of Class.

Productions at the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City have been postponed due to concerns over coron

Productions start again in July at the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City - Credit: Archant

This will be followed on Saturday, July 10 by My Old Lady on the stage of the main house.

Barn Theatre artistic director Clive Weatherley said: "It’s wonderful that rehearsal rooms are buzzing again: actors and crew have never been more excited about bringing theatre back to our patient audiences!

"The Barn’s first two comeback shows are perfect for taking those first tentative steps back into the Barn before our fantastic 2021-22 season kicks off in September."

The Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City lit up as part of the Light It In Red campaign drawing attent

The Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City.  - Credit: Simon Wallace / MeltingPot Pictures


A touch of CLASS

Alex Ryde as Mr McCafferty, Tammy Wall as Kayley, and Howard Salinger as Jayden in the Barn Theatre's production of Class.

Alex Ryde as Mr McCafferty, Tammy Wall as Kayley, and Howard Salinger as Jayden in the Barn Theatre's production of Class. - Credit: John Davies

Class is the award-winning three-hander by actor Iseult Golden and David Horan, artistic director of Dublin’s famous Bewley Theatre Café.

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Following a sold-out run in the 2017 Dublin Theatre Festival, the play transferred to Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, and then on to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2018, which is where Barn director Coral Walton came across it.

Walton, who was the Barn’s artistic director for six years, said: "I feel very privileged to be directing the first piece after lockdown and thrilled to be streaming it live.

Howard Salinger as Jayden and Alex Ryde as Mr McCafferty in the Barn Theatre's production of Class.

Howard Salinger as Jayden and Alex Ryde as Mr McCafferty in the Barn Theatre's production of Class. - Credit: John Davies

"This is not a film, it’s a piece of live theatre and that’s what I want it to feel like. Of course, I’d like to do it with a full capacity audience, but for now, this is very exciting."

Taxi driver Brian and his recent ex, Donna, have been called in to discuss their nine-year-old son Jayden's educational needs after a standard test suggested low literacy levels.

Mr McCafferty wants their permission to bring in an educational psychologist to better understand his "learning differences".

He's a good teacher – the kids' favourite – who routinely goes the extra mile, but the meeting grows increasingly fractious as parents' frustrations and teacher's prejudices seep to the surface in an explosive confrontation that is funny, heart-breaking and beautifully observed.

Tammy Wall has worked with Walton on some terrific Barn productions and returns to the Studio to play Donna and Kayley.

She’s joined by two Barn newcomers – Howard Salinger in the roles of Brian and Jayden, and Alex Ryde playing Mr Ray McCaffery.

Starting at 8pm, the show runs from Tuesday, July 6 to Friday, July 9.

The running time is approximately 1 hour 25 minutes, with no interval. It will be live streamed with a small, socially distanced audience.

Tickets cost £10 from barntheatre.co.uk or 01707 324300.

Class comes with a warning that the play contains some adult themes and strong language.


About My Old Lady

My Old Lady, by Israel Horowitz, follows Class at the Barn Theatre on Saturday, July 10.

Directed for the Barn by award-winning director Hannah Sayer, My Old Lady runs until Saturday, July 17.

Most British viewers will probably be more familiar with the 2014 film than the stage play which, although it sold well in Paris and New York, didn’t make it to London.

Awarding four stars, the Wall Street Journal said: "This is the kind of play in which you want your expectations to be fulfilled, and don’t feel manipulated in the least by the machinations that lead you down the path to the final destination."

Horowitz adapted and directed it for screen, in his directorial debut, with Maggie Smith in the lead alongside Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Paul Russell as Mathias, with a wild boar's head.

Paul Russell as Mathias, with a wild boar's head in My Old Lady. - Credit: John Davies

Leading Barn actor Paul Russell plays Mathias who, embittered by failure and disappointment, shows up in Paris to claim the apartment his estranged father has left him, convinced the sale of it will solve both his financial and self-esteem issues.

But to his horror, he finds it is a viager: it has a sitting tenant – who sold it for a song on condition that she can stay and receive rent for the rest of her life.

This is the 90-year-old Mathilde (Jan Palmer Sayer), who regards Mathias with polite, queenly tolerance, though her daughter Chloé (Celia Roberts) is more disdainful.

Paul Russell as Mathias, Celia Roberts as Chloe, and Jan Palmer Sayer as Mathilde.

Paul Russell as Mathias, Celia Roberts as Chloé, and Jan Palmer Sayer as Mathilde in My Old Lady, which can be seen at the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City. - Credit: John Davies

Caught up in this bizarre triangle, with literally nowhere to go, he’s forced to get to know these women better…

Chloé and Matthias, both 50, still rage with the anguish of the unloved children they always felt they were.

That’s the springboard for Horovitz’s eloquent, funny, brilliantly paced plunge into parent-child relationships.

Paul Russell as Mathias and Jan Palmer Sayer as Mathilde.

Paul Russell as Mathias and Jan Palmer Sayer as Mathilde in My Old Lady. - Credit: John Davies

The show runs in the Barn's main auditorium from Saturday, July 10 to Saturday, July 17, starting at 8pm.

Tickets cost £13 from the Barn Theatre box office on 01707 324300 or online at www.barntheatre.co.uk

This will be the first production on the Barn main house stage since the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions, and social distancing will be strictly observed.

This means 50 instead of 120 in the audience, no one in the front row, and booking in bubbles or family blocks.

Please check the Barn website for more information on COVID measures.

The Barn's 2021-2022 season kicks off with Happy Jack on September 24.

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