Guide to Local Theatre by Paul Shave

New Era Players - Blithe Spirit

Latest news: 26th November to 3rd December 2023

The reviews of the Christmas shows are starting to come in. For the Watermill’s The Wizard of Oz: “fun… charming” “a treat for all ages” “perfect winter’s evening out” “multi-talented cast” “a perfect show” “totally delightful” “pure delight” “fizzing with fun” + more. 4 ★★★★, 2 ★★★, 1 ★★ (boo!). More details here.

Professional theatre locally

Mill at SonningHigh Society, 29th November to 20th January
You’re invited to the wedding of the year, and what a swell party it’s going to be! Long Island socialite Tracy Lord is planning her lavish High Society nuptials with 700 guests and oceans of champagne. But who exactly will be the groom? Her fiancé – the self-made but boring George? Or her glamorous and dangerous ex-husband Dexter who turns up on the scene determined to win her back. Or maybe news reporter Mike Connor, who has been sent to cover the wedding for his tabloid paper and who falls head over heels in love with the captivating Miss Lord. Come and enjoy this swell party and find out which suitor she chooses.

WatermillThe Wizard of Oz, 17th November to 31st December
Dot is a dot of a girl stuck in a nowhere place in a nowhere town with nothing but big dreams and her little dog Toto for company. Her Auntie Em is tired all the time and the chores never seem to stop. The rain pours, people are mean, and the real world just seems a bit rubbish. If only she could be someone else, from somewhere else…  Toto disappears and a desperate search through a storm transports Dot to a strange and miraculous land full of witches and wizards and unusual creatures. Meeting new friends Tinman, Scarrow and Lionel, Dot heads to the Emerald City in search of the magical Wizard to help her find Toto and return home. However, her journey is fraught with danger as they are followed by the scheming wicked witch Westly, who will stop at nothing to get her hands on Dot’s all-powerful magic shoes… With bravery, brains, and heart, will Dot and her friends find Toto and make it back home to Auntie Em? Click your heels three times and book to find out! 

Arlington Arts, Newbury: Oskar’s Amazing Adventure, 2nd December
Fun-loving puppy Oskar leaves the snowbound little house on top of the mountain to try to find a friendly animal to play with. But where are all the animals? And why does Oskar have to wait till spring to play his favourite game again? This original play for young children uses a rich mix of storytelling, physical theatre, clowning, puppetry and music & song to tell the tale of a puppy’s search for friendship in the wilderness of the Alps.

Newbury Corn ExchangeBeauty and the Beast, 24th November to 31st December
When Belle wanders from her allotment, she finds herself trapped in an enchanted castle. But nothing is quite as it seems… Can the Beast break the curse that holds him? Will Belle follow her heart to a happily ever after? And when the last petal falls, will true love conquer all? Plested Brown and Wilsher have delighted Newbury audiences for the past four years with their hilarious and fresh takes on much-loved pantomime tales. They return this Christmas with another epic adventure, brimming with fun, including roaringly funny jokes, beastly amounts of magic, and a hit list of songs for all ages.

Amateur theatre

New Era Players: Blithe Spirit, 22nd November to 2nd December
Fussy, cantankerous novelist Charles Condomine has remarried but finds himself haunted (literally) by the ghost of his late first wife, Elvira, after a séance goes awry. Clever, insistent and well aware of Charles’s shortcomings, Elvira is called up by a visiting “happy medium”, the eccentric and flighty Madame Arcati, and proceeds to wreak havoc in Charles and Ruth’s previously happy home. Coward himself labelled this play ‘an improbable farce’ and it is full of his typical waspish humour and some delicious one-liners. New Era Players are joining in the celebrations to mark the 125th Anniversary of Coward’s birth next year.

Dorchester Amateur Dramatics Society: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, 30th November to 2nd December
Roll up! Roll up! The Circus is in town! It’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with a circus theme. Dame Gertie Dollop runs the show with her son, Silly Billy, but they have fallen on hard times. Particularly with the dastardly Ringmaster Heinkel, owner of the rival circus, up to his old tricks. Dame Gertie needs a miracle after their honeypot of pennies is accidentally stolen by three porridge hungry, talking bears. Could they be the new star attraction Gertie has been searching for? Find out in the big top pantomime that’s just right!

Online productions

For online offerings from the National Theatre and the RSC, among others, see the Newbury Theatre web site.

Theatre at the Cinema

Yerma, 30th November and 13th December at Newbury Corn Exchange
A woman is driven to the unthinkable by her desperate desire to have a child in this radical production of Lorca’s achingly powerful masterpiece. In contemporary London, a woman in her thirties is desperate to conceive, building with elemental force to a staggering and shocking climax. Filmed live on stage at the Young Vic, Billie Piper returns in her spellbinding award-winning role.

The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage, 14th December, 19:00 at Vue Newbury
An NT Encore production. Set twelve years before the epic His Dark Materials trilogy, this gripping adaptation revisits Phillip Pullman’s fantastical world in which waters are rising and storms are brewing. Two young people and their dæmons, with everything at stake, find themselves at the centre of a terrifying manhunt. In their care is a tiny child called Lyra Belacqua, and in that child lies the fate of the future. And as the waters rise around them, powerful adversaries conspire for mastery of Dust: salvation to some, the source of infinite corruption to others.
Dear England, 25th to 26th January, 19:00 at Vue Newbury and Newbury Corn Exchange (25th only)
Joseph Fiennes plays Gareth Southgate in James Graham’s gripping examination of nation and game. The country that gave the world football has since delivered a painful pattern of loss. Why can’t England’s men win at their own game? With the worst track record for penalties in the world, Gareth Southgate knows he needs to open his mind and face up to the years of hurt, to take team and country back to the promised land. Filmed live on stage at the National Theatre, Rupert Goold directs this spectacular new play.

Future showings will be listed at

You can see information about productions just outside our area (Reading-ish, Henley-ish, Basingstoke-ish) at


One Response

  1. Having now seen Leopoldstadt twice in person, I would strongly recommend that you watch it, and if possible watch it in the theatre, While I am sure that you will appreciate the streamed version, you will only get the full impact watching it in person.

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