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Rumpus on the road with “chilling” Black Veil play

Published: 12 September 2019
Reporter: Steve Orme

Derbyshire-based Rumpus Theatre Company is to present for its large-scale autumn 2019 and spring 2020 tour a “chilling play” by John Goodrum based on a short story by Charles Dickens.

The Black Veil features newly-qualified doctor Stephen Ruggles arriving home on a stormy winter’s evening. A mysteriously-veiled elderly woman arrives at his door and begs him to visit a nameless patient the following morning. Against his better judgement Ruggles agrees, only to find himself embroiled in a web of lies and deceit that ends in death.

The action takes place in and around London shortly after 1800. Audiences are taken on a “dark and intriguing journey from the backstreets of Dickens’ London to the East End docks and an electrifying climax in a watermill”.

Christopher Brookes plays Stephen Ruggles. He was cast in a three-month summer season at Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, playing Sebastian in Twelfth Night and Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew. Before that, he played Lysander in Nick Winston’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Curve, Leicester in 2017.

For Rumpus, he played the title roles in Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall’s Billy Liar and An Evening With Gary Lineker by Arthur Smith and Chris England in the 70th anniversary season at the Pomegranate, Chesterfield earlier in 2019.

Sarah Wynne Kordas, who plays Carla Blackstock in The Black Veil, was also in the Pomegranate season, taking the roles of Barbara and Liz in Billy Liar and Suzette in Robin Hawdon’s adaptation of Marc Camoletti’s Don’t Dress for Dinner.

She appeared as Nurse Paisley in Anthony Horowitz’s Mindgame in the Tab Productions thriller at the Pomegranate which transferred to the Ambassador Theatre, London as well as going on tour. She also played Catherine in The Nightmare Room, Goodrum’s play based on an Arthur Conan Doyle short story which toured in 2018, and Emmy in Goodrum’s The Eleventh Hour in the same year.

Goodrum, founder of Rumpus Theatre Company, takes the role of Luke Gunford and also designs The Black Veil. Dorkas Ashar plays Ada Crawlings.

Karen Henson, who set up Tabs Productions in 1989, directs The Black Veil. She directed four productions in the Pomegranate season and all four in the Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham earlier in 2019: Frederick Knott’s Wait Until Dark, Murder with Love by Francis Durbridge, Anybody for Murder by Brian Clemens and Dennis Spooner and N J Crisp’s Dangerous Obsession.

David Gilbrook is sound designer for The Black Veil which plays the New Theatre Royal, Lincoln on Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 September and the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield from Thursday 19 until Saturday 21 September.

It then tours to Forum Theatre, Billingham on 8 and 9 October, The Haymarket, Basingstoke from 28 until 30 November, Winchester Theatre Royal on 28 and 29 February, Buxton Opera House from 12 until 14 March, Peterborough Key Theatre on 16 and 17 March, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell on 20 and 21 March and Shanklin Theatre, Isle of Wight from 27 until 29 April 2020.