The Secret Theatre is coming to Oxford

Katherine Pearce, Leo Bill and Billy Seymour in Show 4

Katherine Pearce, Leo Bill and Billy Seymour in Show 4

First published in Stage Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , covering theatre and food. Call me on 01865 425366

They’ve been the talk of Edinburgh Festival and now they’re coming to Oxford. Intrigued, Katherine MacAlister tries to discover – without much luck – exactly what is going on

Can you keep a secret? Oxford Playhouse can because it’s about to embark on it’s most ambitious project to date and they need your support.

Putting on five different shows, performed by 20 artists, within a two-week period is no mean feat, but keeping the off-site location secret as well as the titles of the plays and the authors, sounds downright impossible.

And yet it’s all happening right here in Oxford.

“We invite you to trust us and ask you to risk the ticket price and a few hours of your time, because we know that Oxford audiences don't shy away from a challenge,” Katy Snelling, Oxford Playhouse programmer, explains.

Audiences could see a classic play, an adaptation or a brand new show, it’s a lucky dip in that sense, but while we don’t want to give the game away, to give you a clue about what’s on, the first show will really get people talking, if you like bold, clever and thought-provoking productions.

The second is a pitch-black comedy that the critics loved, then a Jacobean tragedy like ‘a thick slice of thick pulp fiction’. The penultimate show is experimental theatre at its best – if you’re brave enough, and finally the last play is written by a well-known and often controversial playwright, and is sure to entertain.

All will be revealed… but only when the curtain goes up.

Still in the dark? Well if The Secret Theatre’s debut in London and then Edinburgh is anything to go by, we are in for a massive treat because it went down a storm there, creating a genuine buzz.

Still a risk for the Oxford Playhouse though? Bethan James, Playhouse press officer, said: “We have found that people are really hungry for something new and something affordable. You can come and watch all five of these plays for £50, which is less than the price of a West End show and it means you get to see something new that no one has seen before. The concept was a massive hit in London and we are thrilled that Oxford will be next to try it out.”

Katy Snelling is also enormously excited about booking The Secret Theatre: “It’s a wonderfully simple idea.

The shows have been the talk of this year's Edinburgh Festival and we don't think Oxford will want to miss being part of it.

The Secret Theatre’s passion to challenge preconceptions of UK theatre is enormously infectious, and while throughout our programme there are always more challenging pieces that may take you out of your comfort zone, as well as the more traditional options, we find it’s the more off-the-wall shows which often have a more lasting impact,” she explains.

“So we hope that anyone willing to experience something new will enjoy it, and we’ve kept ticket prices as low as possible too.”

So where should we start? “I’d recommend picking one and giving it a go,” Katy explains.

“It’s easy to be swayed by other people’s opinions, so it’s really refreshing to be going in blind, but more than that – I’m staying tight lipped!”

Secret Theatre is coming to Oxford from September 2-13 September. book online at or call the box office on 01865 305305

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