Tales of the Tricycle Theatre

Terry Stoller
Methuen Drama

Tales of the Tricycle Theatre

Tales of the Tricycle is not so much a full-scale history of the Kilburn-based theatre that opened in 1980 as a kind of patchwork quilt looking at highlights through the eyes of those that lived through them.

American academic Terry Stoller has clearly been following Nicolas Kent around for some considerable time, while interviewing many of the theatre practitioners that have made the Tricycle one of the very finest venues in London.

The saddest part of this book is Nicolas Kent's dejected resignation after a mere 28 years, having decided that the latest set of government cuts was too much to bear.

Despite the odd low moment, this is the kind of book that should put smiles on the faces of readers on a constant basis.

After a foreword by Michael Billington, the text starts in what it describes as "A Brief Ride through the Tricycle's History". This proves that there have been enough ups and downs to generate a really worthwhile stage drama, if anybody wanted to have a go.

Miss Stoller then picks on three specific genres and explores these through a series of plays, complementing her own research with interviews. There is also a complete list of plays under each category.

Black Theatre starts with the theatre's grand opening in 1980 under Ken Chubb and Shirley Barrie, featuring Samba by Michael Abbensetts. It then runs on through streams of highlights to the Not Black and White series of plays in 2009.

Irish Theatre has always had a big part to play with Flann O'Brien, the Behans and Billy Roche all featuring, although strangely Marie Jones is represented by A Night in November (an Afternoon in June) rather than the far better-known Stones in His Pockets.

One also wonders whether New Yorker John Patrick Shanley has sneaked into this section of the book under false pretences.

The verbatim and political plays are explored in considerably greater detail, which should prove very helpful to historians in future wishing to get an impression of what they were like and the remarkable impact that so many of them achieved.

Prior to some appendices, including a full production chronology, the book ends with a quick canter through some dressing room stories and encores, leaving readers with a good feel for all that has happened in this delightful space over the last 30 odd years.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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