Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Road - Casting News

As part of its record-breaking 40th Anniversary Season, the Octagon Theatre, Bolton, celebrates its long and successful relationship with acclaimed playwright Jim Cartwright by presenting his seminal work Road from 6 to 29 March.

This is our road! But tonight it’s your Road an’ all! Let me help you get your bearings. There’s the town, there’s this Road, then there’s the slag heap. This is the last stop. All of life is chucked here.

Road tells the story of life on one road in a depressed northern town in Thatcher’s Britain. Scullery, our drunken guide, wanders aimlessly up and down his derelict road, pointing out the grim features of the landscape and setting the scene for the glimpses to come of its inhabitants’ lives.

Noreen Kershaw, a prominent director of both television and the stage and a well-known actress in her own right, returns to the Octagon to direct Road. Noreen has worked as a successful actor and director for many years. Most recently, she directed the December 2007 Liverpool Nativity. For television she has directed Shameless, Emmerdale, Heartbeat and Coronation Street. As an actress, she is recognised for her recent role as WPC Phyllis Dobbs in the BBC smash hit Life on Mars. She also directs Spring and Port Wine, which follows the production of Road, and features many of the Road company. As I am feeling indulgent (and I love it!) you can see footage from Life on Mars below - Noreen features about 1 min 40 in...

Her cast ranges from established favourites to Octagon newcomers. Well-known and much-loved John Henshaw takes the lead as Scullery. John starred in Steve Coogan’s Parole Officer and has had starring roles theatre’s across the country. He is also the face of The Post Office adverts! Here he is in action....

Paul Simpson makes a welcome return to the Octagon after appearing in the MEN Theatre Awards Best New Play 2007 winner And Did Those Feet and Jim Cartwright’s son James Cartwright makes his Octagon Theatre debut. Julie Riley, Tony Bessick, Joanna Higson and Eve Robertson complete the cast.


  1. Boy, what a treat. I stumbled across this brilliant play in college a few years ago and have been looking for productions ever since. I have had trouble finding any in the US, let alone those near to me over in the Northwest US.

    In any case, I am pleased the play is getting what looks to be a superb production. I'll keep waiting patiently for my turn to see Road.

    Or I might just get down to it and produce it myself!

  2. Thanks for your enthusiatic feedback. Keep an eye on the blog as I will be posting some production images and a short promo film in due course.

    Thanks for reading!!

  3. We've just come back from seeing 'Road', a play with no plot and continuous foul language. There were some funny episodes but by and large it was a tedious affair. Thankfully it finished at around 10pm. Don't waste your cash on a ticket you can get better value for money watching the nightlife in Burnley town centre of a Friday.

  4. Thank you for your comments and for sharing your opinion on the Octagon's production of Road.

    We greatly value the opinion and comments of our audience, and I thought it might be worth highlighting the reasons for selecting this production as part of our Anniversary Season. Road is a classic play and has been celebrated as one of the top 50 plays of the 20th century in a poll by the National Theatre.

    Due to our connection with our local community, we were keen to show a play about northern life, written by a Bolton playwright, as well as present a different Jim Cartwright play to those we showed a few years ago as part of our Jim Cartwright season. Road was the first Cartwright play ever to show at the Octagon and it seemed a fitting tribute to bring this back during our 40th anniversary.

    Your comment that you could see the same thing in the town centre in Burnley on a Friday night, summises perfectly the 'slice of life' that this play depicts and that Cartwright wanted to capture through the dialogue. It is part of the truth we tell when we tell stories in the theatre. Perhaps you’ll come back to see Spring and Port Wine, also by a Bolton playwright, but more plot-driven, and let us know what you thought.