Cast and crew reunite to celebrate The Place Theatre’s 20 year anniversary

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A local theatre is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a revival of its first-ever play, performed by exactly the same cast and crew.

Run by Bedford Players Trust, The Place Theatre on Bradgate Road has been at the heart of Bedford’s cultural life for 20 years and this Friday (13 January) celebrates with a reunion performance of Jim Cartwright’s ‘Two’ by the Blackout Theatre Company.

Since 2003, the 130-seat theatre has cemented its reputation as one of the best places to see high-quality and cutting-edge professional theatre and performance, as well as being the home of Bedford’s best amateur and community-led theatre companies.

Its year-round programme has evolved to include theatre, live music and film screenings, spanning children’s theatre, folk music, musical theatre, comedy, as well as a contemporary drama programme.

It is also home to BRAVE, an inclusive youth theatre for young people from six to 16 and TTRPG, a club for people aged 10 to 18 whose interest lies in role-playing games.

And it’s not just a theatre, the venue is also home to several community groups providing activities ranging from young persons’ art classes to pilates.

“In the early days, The Place was primarily the home for some of the town’s community theatre groups presenting about 10 weeks each year of theatre and was totally volunteer run,” said Rae Levene of the Bedford Players Trust.

“It continued in this vein until 2012 when it all changed as we received funding from the Harpur Trust to engage a part-time freelancer to manage the venue and to look at developing the programme. We now have nine people on the books and present a year-round programme of a variety of cultural events.”

This Friday, David Baxter and Kathy Frost will be taking to the stage, reprising their roles in ‘Two’ by Jim Cartwright, 20 years on from their first performance.

Kathy Frost and David Baxter of Blackout Theatre Company in 2003 (image: Blackout Theatre Company/Facebook)

“I’ve always been a fan of ‘Two’,” David told the Bedford Independent.

“From the first time I read it in 1998 to picking it up again a few weeks ago, it’s a wonderful piece. I had the pleasure of performing it in Kansas City a few years ago and apart from a few very British references (anyone for a Wotsit?), the American audiences immediately recognised the characters and emotions within the play, so universal are the themes.

“Personally, twenty years of additional life experience has coloured the characters and it’s a huge pleasure to be working with Kathy again. At our first readthrough, it was like we’d never been away.”

The intervening years have also given Kathy a new perspective on the play.

“Twenty years on, when I came to re-read ‘Two’ last year I remembered just how good it is; it has everything – humour and sadness, energy and reflectiveness, poignancy and, especially now, nostalgia,” she said.

“The world was very different twenty years ago.  I don’t normally re-visit plays that I have been involved in but I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity to revisit this one.

“After twenty years, I have so much more experience to draw on and this show feels very different from the one we performed at the opening of The Place – and, for me at least, there is a lot of new understanding and emotion.”

You can buy tickets to the performance of ‘Two’ at The Place Theatre website here.

On Saturday (14 January) the team at The Place is inviting everyone to join them to celebrate their birthday. There will be a trip down memory lane with a display of photographs from the opening in 2002, plus a celebratory cake and a toast to the next 20 years of this vital part of Bedford’s cultural landscape. Cheers!