Drama In the Parlour returns to Stocksfield Hall this week with a Victorian Christmas Special. In just over a year the Drama in the Parlour series has established itself as a unique force on the North East theatre scene. Audiences consist of regular fans that have been there from the start, mixed in with ever increasing newcomers who have come to see what all the fuss is about. With its refreshing and original mix of humour, tongue-in-cheek melodrama and old-time atmosphere with a modern twist, Drama in the Parlour is fast becoming a cult phenomenon with its fans, who often dress up to attend performances!
Writer of the series Alex Swan says "Part of me still can't believe how popular Drama in the Parlour has become. We actually had to turn people away from the last show because tickets went so quickly!" Giving his thoughts on why the series has become a runaway success, Alex says "Actually it's very simple. People want escapism, they want nostalgia, but most of all they want to laugh, and that's what we do!"
The concept of Drama in the Parlour is to invite the audience to participate in a 'recording' of an old-style radio show, set somewhere between 1940 and the late 1950s, when the actors dressed in evening wear and nobody mentioned the North! The 'Radio' show is sponsored by the fictitious Fegwell's Multi Restorative All Natural Infallible Compound, which does exactly what it doesn't say on the tin. Taking place in the beautiful surroundings of Stocksfield Hall, which also happens to be the home of cast member Helen Morris, the show offers a unique atmosphere and experience So far there have been three shows in the series, with the fourth already written and scheduled for performance in early 2012. Having written all four full-length plays in a little over a year, Alex explains how the Christmas special came about: "The shows went from strength to strength, and after Drama in the Parlour 3 had such an incredible response from audiences and press alike, I just knew I had to follow it up with something really outstanding. A Christmas special was the obvious thing to do."
So what can fans of Drama in the Parlour expect from the Christmas Special? "I don't want to give too much away," says Alex "but there are some real treats in there. Firstly, we've gone back even further in time, we're now in the Victorian era. To me, the Victorian period was Christmas! Instead of a radio show your ticket buys you exclusive entry to the first ever 'Christmas Entertainment Extravaganza' hosted by the noted industrialist Albert Strongarm."
But will regular audiences be put off by the change of setting? Alex explains: "Absolutely not! I can guarantee that you will stay well within your comfort zone. If you have been to Drama in the Parlour before, you will feel very much at home." Alex is keen to point out that he has gone to extra lengths to impress new audiences. "If this is your first experience of Drama in the Parlour, you will be kicking yourself that you didn't come before! You don't need to know a thing about the previous shows to enjoy this one."
Drama in the Parlour Victorian Christmas Special. 7.30 pm 14th -17th December. The Farmhouse, Stocksfield Hall, NE43 7TN. Tickets £7.00 from The Stencil Library shop. 01661 844844
Top photo Cameron Swan, Marie Swan, Margaret Matthews, Helen Morris, Alex Swan, David Walker and Andrew Palmer