A co-production with Octagon Theatre, Out of Joint and The Royal Court Theatre, the production will open in Bolton in September and then tour the UK until February 2018.
Octagon Theatre Bolton is thrilled to announce the cast for Max Stafford-Clark’s new production of 'Rita, Sue and Bob Too', the seminal 1982 play about two teenage friends who embark on an affair with a married man.
Rita will be played by Taj Atwal, who was widely acclaimed for her performance in East is East at Trafalgar Studios in the West End, and who starred as Rita in Educating Rita for Hull Truck. She is also known from Stella on Sky, and Kay Mellors’ In The Club on BBC1. Atwal’s co-star from In The Club, Gemma Dobson, will make her professional stage debut as Sue.
Bob will be played by James Atherton, who played Will Savage in Hollyoaks, as well as recently playing Jamie Bowman in Coronation Street. He has taken theatre roles at Manchester Royal Exchange, Chichester Festival Theatre and Theatre Royal, Haymarket.
Returning to the Octagon Theatre after her role in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is Sally Bankes (Mother) who has also appeared in four productions for the RSC and worked with Taj Atwal in the West End production of East is East. She has extensive comedy and drama television credits. Samantha Robinson (Michelle) played Rita in Educating Rita at Colchester Mercury, and has performed for Northern Broadsides, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Bush, Bristol Old Vic and elsewhere. Her many TV credits include Cilla. David Walker (Father) has appeared in Emmerdale, The Royal and Coronation Street, and on stage most recently in Hangmen in the West End.
Max Stafford-Clark directed the premiere of Rita Sue and Bob Too in 1982 at the Royal Court where was Artistic Director. It is Andrea Dunbar’s second and most famous play, written when she was just 19. She was 15 when she wrote her first.
Stafford-Clark says: “When Andrea wrote her first two plays, she was a teenager from a rough council estate who’d never been to the theatre. Now, thirty five years after its premiere, Rita Sue and Bob Too takes its place in the Octagon and Royal Court’s seasons in the role of Classic Play. It’s one of the privileges of my career that Andrea’s astute, fresh and funny writing reached my desk, and it is exciting to bring her vivid, albeit alarming world to life again with these fine actors.”
Artistic Director of Octagon Theatre Bolton Elizabeth Newman comments: “We are delighted to be making this exciting revival of Andrea Dunbar’s powerful and provocative Rita, Sue and Bob Too. We have a long standing relationship working with Max and are thrilled to once again be partnering with Out of Joint and the Royal Court to produce this story which is still very relevant our audiences over 30 years after it was first performed.”
Written with wicked humour and a great ear for dialogue, Rita, Sue and Bob Too is a startling and insightful portrait of working class teenage girls in the early years of Thatcher’s Britain. It was inspired by Dunbar’s own life on Bradford’s Buttershaw estate. The play spawned a popular film directed by Alan Clark, which was restored and re-released this year by the BFI.