Family theatre in an ironmonger’s

Peter Lathan

Tyne Valley-based theatre company Mortal Fools is to convert a former hardware store on Prudhoe’s high street into a pop-up theatre over the Christmas period.

The former premises of McGee’s Hardware Store at 10 Front Street have been vacant since the store moved further along the street and Mortal Fools, which is based in the town, has taken it over and is in the process of converting it temporarily into a fully-equipped studio theatre, the Front Street Theatre.

From 16 December 2017 to 6 January 2018, it will be home to a new family show, Melva, a Roald Dahl-inspired story of one girl’s adventure to find out what she’s really capable of. It’s particularly aimed at children aged 7 to 11.

“Do you have worrits?” the play asks. “You know—that uncontrollable churning in the pit of your tummy like you have 341 worms squirming about?”

Melva Mapletree has them too and right now they won’t let her leave the house. But then, on Christmas Eve, something happens which changes her world forever.

For writer Danielle Burn (27), this will be her first full professional play, written with the support of the Mortal Fools team.

“Mortal Fools don’t just talk the talk when it comes to supporting emerging artists,” she said, “they prove they genuinely care, encourage and support. It took under a second for Kiz (Cosbie, the company’s artistic director) to reply to an e-mail of mine about an idea for a play, something along the lines of 'we would love to produce it’. It became real and from that moment my first attempt at a children’s play was taken seriously.”

Melva is directed by Anna Ryder (24), who has worked with Mortal Fools on theatre projects and activities for adults, and this will be her first family theatre production. Most recently, she directed Sian Armstrong’s one-woman show Stupid, currently on tour, for Mortal Fools.

“Mortal Fools have been a wonderful support since I joined the company earlier this year,” she said. “They have allowed me the time and freedom to develop as a director and artist. You can come with an idea, big or small, and the team will be working hard to make it happen, no boundaries, no problems. Their get-go attitude is inspiring.”

Tickets are now available from the Mortal Fools web site, or, at a discounted rate for Prudhoe Residents, from Prudhoe Library.