Lord Arthur Savile's Crime

June 9

It is 1890, and the social season is in full swing. Wealthy, debonair young man-about-London, Lord Arthur Savile, is on top of the world. He is doted on by his elderly, aristocratic relatives, and engaged to Sybil Merton, the girl of his dreams. 

At a party, his palm is read by a fashionable cheiromantist, who foretells that he will commit a murder. Horrified at the potential shame this will bring his bride, Arthur decides that it’s his duty to get the murder out of the way, discreetly, before he marries Sybil. But, which of his relatives is the most expendable? Aided by the services of his Jeeves-like butler, Baines, and a seedy German anarchist, with an array of guns, bombs and poisoned chocolates, Lord Arthur sets about his noble task – with increasingly hilarious results. 

Wickedly funny, ingenious and farcical, Oscar Wilde’s short story is laden with the stunning dialogue that glitters through The Importance of being Earnest and Lady Windermere’s Fan. 

Following the sell-out success of last year’s Ukaria play-reading of Judging Oscar, it seemed fitting to follow it up with one of Oscar’s lesser-known, but no less brilliant gems. 

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Mrs Warren's Profession

November 15 – 23

Vivie Warren has just graduated with Honours from Cambridge – making her a rarity in late 19th century England. She has been supported through her education by her mysterious mother, who has spent much of Vivie’s life abroad. 

Holidaying in Surrey, before starting work with a female actuary in London, Vivie is reunited with her bombastic mother, and several of her mother’s old male associates. During the course of the weekend, it becomes apparent to Vivie that her mother’s considerable wealth has not been earned in quite respectable ways. 

Like Pygmalion, Major Barbara – indeed all of Shaw’s plays – Mrs Warren is filled with fascinating, ding-dong arguments between mother and daughter, and rich with Shaw’s trademark wit and humour, leaving the audience to decide where rightness lies. 

Written in 1893, and one of Bernard Shaw’s cleverest, wittiest plays, it was originally banned, and not licensed for public performance until 1925. 

At a time when women’s issues are in the foreground of the public and political debate, the play’s themes – of women’s position in society, women’s higher education, and the exploitation of female workers – couldn’t be more timely. 

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Don Carlos

August 2 – 10

In 16th-century Spain, the Spanish Inquisition is in full swing. Crown Prince Carlos is betrothed to Princess Elisabeth of France – until his tyrannical father, King Philip II, decides it would be better politics for him to marry Elisabeth himself.

Trapped in a spy-riddled court, the explosive young prince’s hatred for his puritanical father knows no bounds. Nor does his continued love for his now-stepmother. Carlos entreats his boyhood friend, Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa, to act as a go-between.

Rodrigo decides, instead, to defy the Inquisition, and convert Carlos’ dangerous passion into a full-scale rebellion against Philip’s religiously oppressive and bloody regime. But, can Rodrigo shield Carlos from his enemies at court, while opening the prince’s eyes to what a humane ruler might achieve?

Schiller’s most famous play – regarded as the German Hamlet – is a taut political thriller, brim-full of back-stabbing intrigue, interwoven with timeless debates about liberty, justice, power, tolerance, freedom of conscience and legitimacy of government.

One of the world’s truly great plays, so famous was Don Carlos that Giuseppe Verdi adapted it into the most magnificent of all his operas.

A must-see, if you loved The Tudors and The Borgias.

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The Maltese Falcon

April 26 – May 4

Hard-boiled San Francisco Private Eye, Sam Spade, is hired by the alluring Miss Wonderly to track down her sister, who has eloped with a gangster called Floyd Thursby. But Miss Wonderly quickly turns out to be as slippery and treacherous as she is beautiful.

Throw into the mix a perfumed Greek fortune-hunter, a teenage hoodlum, a sinister fat man, plus a fabulous jewel-encrusted statue worth murdering for, and the stage is set for one of the greatest crime thrillers of all time.

These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett’s coolly glittering 1928 gem of detective fiction, the first of its kind, and one that has haunted generations of readers.

The story was filmed twice, in the 1930s, before John Huston decided to make it his first film. And thank goodness he did, because his 1941 version – which starred Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet – became a cinema classic, ushering in, as it did, the film noir style of seedy detective films.

Following its tradition of its award-winning Strangers on a Train, and by The Hound of the Baskervilles, Independent Theatre is thrilled to be bringing another brilliant classic of crime and mystery to the stage.

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