After serving a 28-year sentence as a bingo hall, Frank Matcham's Empire Theatre in Edinburgh is about to resurface, phoenix-like, as the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. The exuberant range of its opening season is due to the general manager, Paul Iles. His recognition of the diversity of his potential audiences paid off handsomely at the Blackpool Grand, which underwent a renaissance during his time there.
On the largest stage in Britain, he is presenting everything from Rose English on horseback to the Red Army Ensemble.
Details: 031-529 6000
Eclectic programming is also the keynote of the first ever festival devoted to the work of Harold Pinter, which has just opened at Dublin's Gate Theatre. Instead of capitulating to received wisdom and turning out a Greatest Hits compilation (The Caretaker, The Homecoming) the season runs the gamut from The Dumb Waiter (written in 1957) to his most recent, Moonlight, directed by Karel Reisz, who filmed Pinter's screenplay The French Lieutenant's Woman.
The festival also offers Landscape (the first production to be directed by the author) and the vastly underrated Old Times. Aside from a recent production at Birmingham Rep, this has rarely been staged. Perhaps Kevin Billington's production will re-awaken interest in this oddly overlooked masterpiece.
Details: Gate Theatre, Dublin 874 4045
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