World premiere of new comedy by former Octagon Artistic Director Lawrence Till, adapted from the stories of Bill Naughton

World premiere of new comedy by former Octagon Artistic Director Lawrence Till, adapted from the stories of Bill Naughton

The Big Corner is an uplifting coming of age comedy, travelling through time and the streets of Bolton showing at the Octagon Thu 19 April - Sat 5 May.

Celebrating Bolton and the work of Bill Naughton, The Big Corner follows Bill and Alf, two young Bolton lads growing up together hungry for adventure, discovering the mystery and the delights of girls. 

In 1967, the Octagon Theatre Bolton opened its doors for the first time with Bill Naughton’s Annie and Fanny and now, as the Octagon prepares to close it’s doors for a period of refurbishment, Lawrence Till, former artistic director (1992-1999), returns to his Bolton home with a new play, weaving together Bill Naughton’s stories and memoirs of Bolton life. 

Writer of Alfie, The Family Way, Spring and Port Wine, many novels, radio plays and short stories, Bill Naughton is Bolton’s most celebrated writer and is currently being commemorated by Live from Worktown who have opened a Bill Naughton Information Centre in the Market Place. In this new play, audiences will be able to recognise familiar Bill Naughton stories and characters such as Spit Nolan, an early incarnation of Alfie Elkins and the story of Seeing A Beauty Queen Home.

The production brings together a cast of talented actors including Boltonian and Octagon regular Jessica Baglow, most recently seen in Hamlet and Jane Eyre at the Octagon and Mitesh Soni who is currently appearing as Abdul in East Is East showing at the Octagon until Sat 14 April.

The Octagon are excited to welcome back Harry Long last seen in Bolton in The Winter’s Tale and To Kill a Mockingbird and Lauren Samuels of BBC’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow and popular musical adaptation of  Bend It Like Beckham. Samuels was nominated for Best Actress at the Manchester Theatre Awards for her performance in Love Story at the OctagonMaking his Octagon debut and stepping in to play the role of Bill, Dan Parr joins the cast having been most recently seen in Jim Cartwright’s Road at the Royal Court.

I want people to go out having had a really good laugh and knowing the quality of Bill’s story telling.

BAFTA nominated producer, director and Writer’s Guild award winner Lawrence Till (Mr Selfridge and Shameless) says: “More than anything I want people to go out having had a really good laugh and knowing the quality of Bill’s story telling. It’s about how you get by when your best friend is in love with your wife”.

Elizabeth Newman, current artistic director commissioned the play to celebrate the Octagon 50th anniversary, “I wanted to invite previous artistic directors back to mark the legacy that the Octagon is built on . Lawrence Till is a great talent and I’ve been very lucky to have come to know him and his work in recent years. The Octagon has always championed new writing so commissioning Lawrence to write The Big Corner felt like a great way to celebrate the past as we strive towards our future.

It was also important to celebrate the great work of Bill Naughton in our 50th anniversary season. We opened the Octagon with a Bill Naughton play. I felt passionately that, as we are about to head out of the theatre for a time, we needed to turn the lights off with Bill there in some way. It is a moment to remember what’s made the Octagon great for so many decades - exceptional stories shared with great audiences. His writing has been a constant source of inspiration to me during my many years in Bolton. I can’t wait to work with such a talented company of actors to bring to life this wonderful story Lawrence has created inspired by the legendary work of Bill Naughton”.

Lawrence Till further comments: “Bolton’s mills, parks, theatres, and dance halls, are all part of the tapestry that made Bolton a distinctive place to grow up for the people who lived here. And the street corners are where the excitement of daily gossip, humour, gambling and scandal offered the opportunity to tell and hear exciting tales for the first time.”

The Big Corner opens at the Octagon Thu 19 April until Sat 5 May, read more at octagonbolton.co.uk/whats-on/theatre/the-big-corner/