Stage Door News
Bury St. Edmunds, GBR: The first UK production of Mark Crawford’s “The Birds and the Bees” lands in Bury St. Edmunds May 3
Sunday, May 1, 2022
The full cast have been announced for the East of England tour of James McDermott’s new East Anglian “relocation” of the hit Canadian comedy The Birds and the Bees by Mark Crawford.
The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich will be partnering with Norwich Theatre, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds and John Stalker Productions for the tour, which will mark the first professional UK production of any version of Mark Crawford’s play as well as the first co-production between the three East Anglian based theatres.
Commissioned by John Stalker Productions, James McDermott’s new version of the 2016 Canadian play relocates the play’s setting from modern-day Canada to North Norfolk in England’s East Anglia. Set in an East Anglian farm, the hilarious comedy romp tackles topics of sex, love, science, family, and the artificial insemination of turkeys.
On Sarah’s East Anglian farm the honeybees are dropping like flies – just like her love life. Her husband bolted twenty years ago and she hasn’t slept with anyone since. Her middle-aged daughter Gail’s marriage is going up in smoke just like her turkey farm and neighbour Earl is fighting a losing battle with his sugar beet yield and his ‘no strings’ relationships.
Then along comes city-dwelling bio-student Ben to study those pesky poorly performing pollinators. He could probably also have a look at Sarah’s turkeys, which can’t seem to mate without a human helping hand. Perhaps some local mead and the annual Turkey Day’s Dance will sort everything out – and not just for the birds.
As the consequences of that momentous night unfold Sarah, Gail, Earl and Ben discover the best way out of a crisis is to commit to those closest to you – just watch out and don’t get stung
The cast of the UK premiere will be: Laura Doddington (The Midwich Cuckoos) as Sarah, Louise Gold (Gypsy, Fiddler on the Roof) as Gail, Richard McIver (Half-Full) as Ben and Sion Tudor Owen (Carrie’s War, White Christmas) as Earl.
The Birds and the Bees will be directed by the New Wolsey’s Artistic Director Peter Rowe with design by Dawn Allsopp, lighting design by Richard G. Jones and casting direction by Debbie O’Brien.
Mark Crawford said of the UK debut of his play, “I’m very excited for The Birds and the Bees to have its UK premiere this spring. This production transplants the play from rural Canada to East Anglia. An ocean divides us, but there’s so much we have in common—turkey farming, bee colony collapse, and a love of characters running round in their knickers. I can’t wait for audiences to experience this new version of the play set closer to home. No matter where it takes place, some things are universal: sex is funny, families are complicated, and despite our best intentions, things don’t go according to plan.”
James McDermott said of adapting the play, “I’m very excited to be relocating Mark’s hilarious heart-warming relationship comedy to North Norfolk. It’s my first adaptation and I really connected with the themes of the play as in my work I’ve always been obsessed with exploring sexuality, intergenerational relationships and the natural world. I’m sure audiences will connect with this timely tale and the four hilarious lovable characters at the heart of it”
Peter Rowe, Artistic Director of New Wolsey Theatre and Director of The Birds and the Bees said, “Mark’s big-hearted comedy translates perfectly to a Norfolk setting and I’m looking forward to directing this story of four quirky characters who discover that the way to survive a global crisis is to commit to those close to home.”
Stephen Crocker, Chief Executive of Norwich Theatre, commented “We are so excited about this first-ever co-production with New Wolsey Theatre and Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds of Birds and the Bees, allowing us to pool the expertise and creativity of three of the East of England’s best-loved theatres. It forms another important step in our aspiration to produce and co-produce more original work, re-affirming Norwich Theatre’s commitment to giving a platform for new, different and local voices to be heard. The spirit of determination and love for theatre unites all three venues, and The Birds and the Bees will offer audiences good light-hearted fun, which is just what is needed right now.”
Owen Calvert-Lyons, Artistic Director & CEO of Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, said “Theatre Royal is delighted to be co-producing The Birds and The Bees. This is a hugely exciting collaboration, bringing together three of the biggest theatres in our region to create a play which will entertain audiences across East Anglia. We want our audiences to love this play and feel that it speaks to them, so we have employed brilliant local playwright, James McDermott, to transpose the story from its original setting in Canada to East Anglia. The Birds and The Bees is a real laugh-out-loud comedy and I’m sure that audiences all across this region are going to love it.”
John Stalker said, “The Birds and the Bees is one of the funniest plays I have come across in a long time. After the two years we have experienced I want to give audiences the chance and permission to laugh out loud in the company of other theatregoers and I am delighted to have teamed up with East Anglia’s three power house theatres to create this UK premiere.”
The production will run at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich from 25 March – 9 April (press night: 29 March) before heading on tour to Norwich Theatre from 20-30 April and Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds from 3-7 May. The production will also be livestreamed for four performances during its run at the New Wolsey Theatre from 7-9 April.
For tickets for the play at the Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds, visit theatreroyal.org.
Photo: Laura Doddington as Sarah and Richard McIver as Ben in the UK cast of The Birds and the Bees. © 2022 Mike Kwasniak.