New Vic to celebrate centenary of first radio play

Published: 12 January 2024
Reporter: Steve Orme

The cast of A Leap in the Dark

Several actors known to audiences at the New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme will appear in the comedy A Leap In The Dark which the theatre is staging to celebrate the centenary of the broadcast of the UK's first radio play.

Originally commissioned by BBC Radio Four, A Leap In The Dark is written by Ron Hutchinson and charts the (almost) true story of how radio plays came into being.

The cast of eight includes Suzanne Ahmet, who played Neil “Nello” Baldwin’s mother in Baldwin and Malcolm Clarke’s Marvellous, which ran at the New Vic and @sohoplace in 2022. In A Leap In The Dark, she will be May Playfair.

Angela Bain, who featured in Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee’s Inherit The Wind and Bob Eaton’s I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire at the New Vic, both in 2014, will take the roles of Lady Hartley and Mrs Stanley.

Madeleine Leslay will play Rita Hartley and Madge, while Alyce Liburd will be Grace. Perry Moore who was in the @sohoplace production of Marvellous takes the role of Cedric Maud, while Ben Norris will be Richard Hughes and Hector. Robert Pickavance will take four parts. Andrew Pollard, a New Vic regular, will appear as Nigel Playfair.

New Vic artistic director Theresa Heskins said, “I was on a long drive, with the radio on for company as ever, and was lucky enough to hear Ron Hutchinson's play celebrating the birthday of BBC radio drama. A Leap In The Dark gave me a fascinating insight into how a new art form had come about and I was delighted when Ron agreed to reimagine the play for the stage.

“A hundred years since that first play was broadcast, I'm delighted that we can celebrate our great national treasure the BBC and the art of radio drama.”

Caroline Wilkes has been brought in to direct in place of Gwenda Hughes, who is ill. The creative team includes designer Lis Evans, lighting and projection designer Daniella Beattie, composer and sound designer Oliver Vibrans, choreographer Beverley Norris-Edmunds, casting director Anji Carroll CDG and assistant director Mandeep Glover.

A Leap In The Dark will run at the New Vic from Friday 9 February until Saturday 2 March.

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