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What's on at Ilkley Playhouse

The IT runs 21-23 March at Ilkley Playhouse

Written by Caroline Mutton

Opening this Thursday 21st March in the Wildman Studio, fringe production The IT will be performed by our senior Greenroom students. The play is about a teenage girl who has something growing inside her. She doesn't know what it is, but she knows it's not a baby. It expands in her body. It starts in her stomach, but quickly outgrows that, until eventually it takes over the entirety of her insides. She has to keep its presence, its possession of her, concealed. She pulls away from her friends and refuses to speak in case the IT is heard. Then the IT tries to escape from her body.  She becomes an isolated, weird figure at school, trying to live her life normally but battling to keep the IT inside of her. But she can't contain it forever, sooner or later something's got to give. This is a darkly comic, state-of-the-nation play, exploring adolescent mental health, societal pressure and the impact of social media. The protagonist, Grace, plays out the consequences of trying to battle mental health issues alone and one character’s response at the end of the play reiterates that many young people are experiencing the same issues: “I saw what was inside her, the fury, the blood, the gore; I saw it, because it’s in me too. I know it is. I can feel it. It’s just here…” The play runs until Saturday 23rd March.

Performing for the first time at Ilkley Playhouse on Friday 5th April is the Yorkshire Gypsy Swing Collective. Featuring some of the region’s hottest gypsy jazz and swing players, playing music inspired from legendary musicians Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli of the “Quintette du Hot Club de France” and more! Expect fiery solos, foot-stomping rhythms and even some jazz standards to sing along to.

Yorkshire Gypsy Swing Collective

Our next play to open in the Wharfeside Theatre on Thursday 11th April is Ladies Unleashed, written by Amanda Whittington. The play reunites four friends, Hull fish factory workers, Jan, Pearl, Linda and Shelley in 2022 on the peaceful retreat of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The peace is soon shattered when an old friend turns up out of the blue. They haven’t seen Shelley since their days in the fish factory. The retreat becomes a reunion and as night falls, a riot. Yet much has changed since they were last together. Cut off from the mainland, tensions rise and the island grows restless. Beyond the sunset lie Mabel and Daisy, who follow the fishings from Hull to Holy Island a century before and swear they are never going back. Whittinton says of her play “Ladies Unleashed is about a female world, and as the women of Holy Island’s past comes alive, it shows how women’s lives have changed so radically and yet some things have not changed”. Following the smash hit Ladies’ Day and Ladies Down Under, Ladies Unleashed is the third play in her Ladies Trilogy. The play can be enjoyed on its own terms: a comedy-drama about friendship, growing older and living for today. The play runs until Saturday 20th April.

Stagefright Comedy Club returns on Saturday 27th April when you will be treated to an evening of hilarity from comedians Aaron Simmonds, Phil Pagett, Alex Mitchell, Helen Brooks and Gareth Williams. Aaron Simmonds, who is frontlining the event, is fresh from a solo UK tour. His credits include The Russell Howard Hour, Breaking The News, Guessable and The Stand Up Sketch Show. He has a talent for weaving an overarching story into multiple anecdotes, calling back to them masterfully throughout his performance. Joining him is Birmingham based Phil Pagett who has been performing since 2010 and his act features a heady combination of clever, sharp one-liners and bone-dry observations. In addition to his live work he has written for Mock the Week and BBC Radio 4. Also performing is Helen Brooks who, in her own words, looked to comedy as a way of turning her problems into punch lines. Expect a heady mix of self-depreciation, social commentary and green sequins. She is a comedy writer on BBC Radio 4 ‘The Skewer’ and BBC Scotland ‘Noising Up’. Gareth Williams, another talented comedian joining the line-up, has been described as ‘fabulously confident and instinctively funny’ (Derbyshire Times). He is winner of the Komedia Comedy LaunchPad and ‘wins over audiences with his “Did he really just say that?” humour. Finally, Alex Mitchell ‘brings a breath of fresh air to any comedy night. He has strong material from the start and the crowd instantly warm to him.’ (Lairy Laughs Comedy). What a line-up! The evening will be compered by the fabulously talented Anthony J. Brown.

Join Britain’s leading hot-fingered mandolin virtuoso Simon Mayor, and silver-voiced songstress Hilary James, for an unmissable evening of musical fun on Saturday 4th May. Well-known for the diversity of their repertoire: from folk songs to blues, classical mandolin showstoppers, hot swing fiddle, quirky poems, limericks and comic songs. Simon’s unique brand of off-beat humour and Hilary’s honey-dripping voice and amazing bass mandolin, makes for a hugely entertaining evening.


On 24th and 25th May a new play Bridge, written by Sarah Nelson, comes to Ilkley Playhouse, starring Dean Smith and Tom Gibbons.  On a dark night, Jacob stands on a motorway bridge, wrong side of the railings. Liam, an off-duty paramedic happens to walk past. One man whose job it is to save people and one who has come to a moment in his life where he needs to be saved. What follows is an unexpected conversation, a purging of fears and regrets, as they finally open up about what has brought them to this moment and discover whether the time they spent together on the bridge might change them both forever. Bridge is a pitch-black comedy about the fragility of men trying to survive 21st century life. Exploring the pressures and challenges they face, the detrimental effect on their mental health and the power of talking to someone.


To book tickets for all our plays and events visit or contact Ilkley Playhouse box office on 01943 609539.



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