Ilkley Playhouse

WE have an eclectic mix of entertainment to offer you in February, starting with comedy. The Stagefright Comedy Clubs are now a regular fixture in our programme of events and they have a loyal local audience. On Saturday, February 15 we feature Meryl O’Rourke and Noel James. Meryl is an acclaimed stand-up comic and an accomplished TV writer. Her notorious cheeky routines of dysfunctionality regularly win her choice gigs with major promoters. She recently supported Frankie Boyle for part of his latest tour and he describes her as “inspiringly funny”. Her solo stand-up show Bad Mother was a hit at the Edinburgh and Brighton Comedy Festivals where she received five star reviews and bagged The Times’ Critics Choice. She is the most recent presenter on Front Row (Radio 4) and writes, performs and directs her own comedy series ‘The Hysterical Method of Conception’ for Women’s Hour.

Noel James has spent twenty years on the comedy circuit and has performed at all the major comedy clubs and festivals including Reading, Glastonbury and Edinburgh. Noel’s TV appearances include the BBC Stand Up Show and Frank Skinner’s Packing Them In. Noel has been described by The Independent as “standing out like a droll giant in a comedy land of trite dwarfs”. The line-up will include full support, the bar will be open for business and the atmosphere is sure to be relaxed and welcoming.

On February 27, 28 and 29, we are delighted to offer you the opportunity to see the first of our fringe productions We’re Not Going Back. The play is written by Boff Whalley who is perhaps best known as the former lead guitarist for the punk and folk band Chumbawamba. He is now an acclaimed playwright and founder of Commoners Choir. The play tells the story of sisters Olive, Mary and Isabel who support the local miners by setting up a branch of Women Against Pit Closures. Set in Yorkshire during the miners’ strike in 1985, this hard-hitting play celebrates the power of community and ordinary people resisting a government intent on destruction. The miners’ strike brought about devastating hardship and conflict, not just to the miners but to families and entire communities. The women, suddenly thrown to the forefront, had their own struggles and this is their story, told through the experiences of the three sisters. Brave, lighthearted optimism shines through their adversity, however, bringing about hilarity from start to finish. The play will be complemented by live music from musicians Lorna Bird and Mairead O’Donnell.

On Wednesday, February 19 at 7.30pm in the Wildman Studio, we will have play readings of three of Shakespeare plays: Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew and Macbeth. These plays have been cleverly reworked and reduced to 30 minutes each. We are looking for up to 30 people, male and female, young and old, regular performers and those who would like to have a go at acting for the first time, to read extracts from these plays, to road test them if you like.

Then, on Saturday, August 29 and Monday, August 31 (bank holiday weekend), these plays will be performed in both the Wildman Studio and in the Manor House Yard in Ilkley.

If this is something that you would like to have a go at, drop in at Ilkley Playhouse and you can sign up. This is a great opportunity whether it is something you have done before or you fancy doing for the first time. If you would like more information about this, please call Ilkley Playhouse Box Office on 01943 609539.

For more information and to purchase tickets for any of our plays and events visit

Caroline Mutton