We're delighted to open our autumn 2019 season with award-winning actor Maxine Peake’s critically acclaimed debut play Beryl.
Beryl tells the inspiring life story of the unsung sporting hero Beryl Burton, a British cyclist who dominated cycle racing in the 1950s-60s winning numerous national titles, becoming world champion 7 times and breaking multiple world records. The play, first commissioned in 2014 for the start of the Tour de France in Leeds, has received critical acclaim and sell out success and in 2019 will be brought life in the intimate setting of Bolton Library Theatre as the Octagon’s town centre building undergoes a major redevelopment.
From humble beginnings Beryl Burton strived to become the greatest woman on two wheels. After falling ill during her 11+ exam, Beryl is told she won’t amount to anything so she sets out to prove everyone wrong. Fast-forward several years, and a blossoming workplace romance with charismatic amateur cyclist Charlie Burton leads Beryl to find true love - not only with Charlie but with the thrill and freedom of being on two wheels. Join the Octagon this autumn to discover how Beryl Burton - wife, mother, northern lass – became a record-breaking world champion and a cycling legend.
This is the debut stage play by award-winning actor and writer Maxine Peake who has had a relationship with the Octagon from being a former Youth Theatre member to making her professional stage debut in Early One Morning in 1998. Since then Peake has made several award-winning appearances on the stage and TV and comments on the upcoming production of Beryl at the Octagon “I am very excited that Beryl will be riding into my home town of Bolton and into the theatre that gave me both my first taste of live theatre and my first Professional theatre engagement. Like a well-oiled bicycle wheel things have come full circle.”
A talented cast of four will bring to life this extraordinary true story including Vicky Binns (Coronation Street, ITV, The Mill, Channel 4, Doctors, BBC, Early Doors, Phil McIntyre Entertainment, Abigail’s Party, ATG, The Winter’s Tale, To Kill A Mockingbird, Octagon Theatre Bolton) who will be making a welcome return to an Octagon stage along with three actors who will be making their Octagon debut; Matthew Heywood (The Hole, Christa Harris, Fomo, OffCut, Corruption, JB Shorts), Chris Jack (Noughts and Crosses, Derby Theatre, The Secret Garden, Brighton Rock, York Theatre Royal, The Secret Garden, Theatre by the Lake, Our Town, Royal Exchange Theatre) and Flora Spencer-Longhurst (A Pupil, Park Theatre, The Real Thing, Rose Theatre/Theatre Royal Bath, Much Ado About Nothing, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Christmas Truce, RSC, Titus Andronicus, The Globe).
Kimberley Sykes, a regular Director for the RSC, returns to Bolton Octagon after beginning her career as assistant director ten years ago, comments on the production: “A joyful play, Beryl celebrates the extremes of human endurance and determination, working class values and community spirit. When first reading Maxine’s script I was moved by Beryl’s incredible story and I am honoured to be celebrating the life of this formidable working class Yorkshire woman who didn’t take no for an answer. I am thrilled with the brilliant cast I will be working with on the production, it’s going to be fast-paced and energetic and I can’t wait to start rehearsals! I hope audiences will delight in our playful and honest production where everyday objects will transform into epic images, the imagination will be unleashed and audiences encouraged to rally with us. Most of all, it’s going to be a good Northern night out!”
Beryl will be playing at the Library Theatre, Bolton between Thu 19 September – Sat 19 October 2019.Find out more and book tickets