Latest Plays Premiered

Oxford Playmaker directors John Retallack and Renata Allen directed performances of two new plays by Oxford based writers for the Offbeat festival in Oxford 2016: Antigona and Me by Zena Forster and Dangling by Abi Hood.

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Picture of Abi Hood, Zena Forster and Renata Allen

This year John directs a staged reading of Mandy Constance’s new play The Ocean Queen at OffBeat on July 1st 2017 at the Oxford Playhouse.

Antigona and Me is in process now of developing a professional production.

Clanchy’s acclaimed memoir ,strong>Antigona and Me was originally published in 2008 and won the Writers’ Guild Best Book Award for that year. The story of a refugee, it is as apposite today as it was on first publication. The memoir has been adapted for the stage by Zena Forster, an Oxford playwright who has worked with Clanchy on adaptations for both Radio 3 and Radio 4. Forster’s adaptation is a radical dramatisation that remains fiercely true to the spirit of the original text.

Antogona and me creative team

Brexit gives a new urgency and cutting edge relevance to director John Retallak’s thrilling read through of Zena Forster’s radical adaptation of prize winning poet, journalist and writer Kate Clanchy’s book Antigona and Me.

It’s a work celebrating an extraordinary friendship that began at the school gates. It proved life-changing for the protagonists and life-affirming for the audience.

A chance encounter between Clanchy and Antigona – a fellow mother and Kosovon refugee led to a spontaneous offer of work at Clanchy’s home: Clanchy needed a cleaner, but their mutual commitment to motherhood gave them an immediate common bond.

In every other way, they were chalk and cheese: Clanchy a liberal feminist; Antigona an asylum seeker raised under the Kanun – a set of strict Albanian laws in which ‘blood matters’. When Antigona reveals that her absent husband had tried to sell their 13 year old daughter as a prostitute, her divorced status – so shameful under Kanun – becomes clear.

Clanchy’s journalistic curiosity is piqued, and she begins to include Antigona in her Guardian column. As Antigona’s confidence grows, she becomes a verbal sparring partner of comparable intelligence and conviction to Clancy. Clancy encourages candour. The result is a series of titanic exchanges in which both parties passionately defend their principles, while skewering the others’ inconsistencies.

Jude Thorp’s production brought together actors of great skill: Celia Meiras was towering as Antigona, and Rachel Mae Brady’s Clanchy was cool and thoughtful – a perfect foil until roused to fury and recriminations. Forster’s interpretation of Clanchy’s superbly nuanced writing reveals how rock hard certainties begin to yield, replaced by sometimes hard won tolerance and a deep respect for the other.

Alison Boulton (DI Reviewer), 27/06/16



DANGLING by Abi Hood

Directed by Renata Allen with a cast of ten professional actors

JUNE 21st 2016 and again at THE COURTYARD, LONDON JUNE 22nd 2016

In London a teenage girl has gone missing. In Manchester another teenager is driven to the edge of what she can bear. This dark, compelling story explores the consequences of breaking the normal bonds of love. When two girls inexplicably disappear, two families are left dangling. This stark, contemporary play looks at the damage that happens when you can’t trust the people you love.

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Audience comments

I’m speechless. It was bloody fantastic.

What an amazing play – with such brilliant acting. A huge achievement!

Incredibly moving emotional theatre. Thank you.

Comments feel a bit flippant after such an experience! The idea of people left dangling has broken my heart.

Absolutely, totally brilliant!

A really powerful piece and very well acted.

Stunning and amazing. Marvellously choreographed, written and directed.

Just brilliant. Deserves a run.

Very cleverly written, harrowing. I hope it is not a true story.

Fantastic acting and immediate and gut wrenching proximity. Brilliant dialogue. A 3 Act play in a pint pot

Amazing! I loved it!! Great images and staging! Incredible stories, acted by talented actors!

Very good and intense acting. It kept you on the edge of your seat and had lots of deeper interpretive meaning.

Phenomenal acting and writing – very moving. Left me stunned.