A new gem in the West Midlands theatre landscape
Rod Dungate attends the opening of a new Birmingham theatre space.
A stunning Grade II listed building smack bang in the middle of Birmingham, an
ascent via an elegantly decorated staircase (there is a lift), two dressing rooms, green room, comfortable and tasteful FOH facilities and a fully equipped 80 seater. What is it? – Birmingham’s first proper pub theatre.
It’s the brain child, obstinacy child, and I suspect sheer bloody-mindedness child of award-winning (in beer terms) Alison Turner, manager of The Old Joint Stock pub in Temple Row – it faces on to the Cathedral. Turner’s been working towards this for four years. I asked her how she kept going. ‘I used to go into the space every day and say this is going to be the theatre.’ And it is.
In the theatre the low stage is moveable and the audience seats can be rearranged; so the space is completely flexible. There is ample backstage space – and there really is a green room, such luxury! The whole is self contained on the third floor of The Old Joint Stock. The theatre says it’s going to run a programme of serious dramas, comedy nights and a range of plays ranging from the classics to locally written productions.
The opening was celebrated with a short review. David Perks appeared in The Executioner’s Lad. A dark piece by Claire Bennett in which the lad tells us of the botched execution of Mary Queen of Scots. DOCTORS medics Michael McKell and Stephen Boxer offered a music interlude as The Essex Choirboys and Sara Coward and Sunny Ormonde escaped from the roles of Caroline and Lillian in The Archers to offer us the very funny Whose Low Life Is It Anyway by Jane James – nearly escaped at least. So lots of Birmingham talent on show.
The bonus for theatre visitors, besides being in the city centre, is that the building is stunning. The pub itself is in a vast ex-banking hall, a huge high ceiling of elegant lighting and sweeping curves. Previously it was a Lloyd’s bank, before that, Birmingham’s Stock Exchange. Fuller’s, the brewery, has invested £350 thousand in their theatre.
This is a unique gem in the West Midlands theatre landscape. Please, Fuller’s hold your nerve while a following for the venue builds.
If you want tickets: 0121 200 0946
If you want to book the theatre Ian Craddock on the same number.