The Return of “Paradise Street” to the Stage
In 1981, hot from finishing the ambitious play The History of the Devil, The Dog Company performed Paradise Street at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival (where Devil had enjoyed two successful seasons before). The play was written and directed by Clive Barker, with costumes by Jane Woodward and Lynne Darnell (who would later marry Doug Bradley), and settings by Andy Klunder. The cast was sparse: The Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux and the character of Quinn Bonner were both played by Doug Bradley, Shay Bonner (a soldier) was played by Oliver Parker (Hellraiser Moving Man, Peloquin), Phil Rimmer played Jack Mulrooney, a mathematician from Belfast, and Elizabeth I was played by Konni Burger. It was a long play, clocking in at 2 hours and 15 minutes plus interval. The play had been written with financial assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain, and was well received at the Festival.
If you happen to own Forms of Heaven – Three Plays by Clive Barker, you’ve probably read it before; it’s Christmas Eve, and Shay Bonner comes home to Liverpool’s Paradise Street to find it demolished. But a door opens in the ruins, and through it appears the court of Elizabeth the First: The Earl of Essex, a troupe of masquers, a pet baboon, Ben Johnson… and the Queen herself. She has come to spy on twentieth century England, and breed a race of daughters to rewrite history in the name of women. The Liverpudlians are not enthusiastic about the invasion: and the two societies are locked in a war of private intrigues and public politics, as modern cynicism confronts the aggressive optimism of the Golden Age. From the grimy realism of the early scenes the play moves into gorgeous spectacle and romantic comedy, until death brings the opponents together in a climax that is both visionary and deeply moving.
Every Clive Barker fan will be happy to know that a new production of this play is opening next week in San Francisco by the Exit Theater, directed by Stuart Bousel. The play will run from December 1st to the 17th.
More info and tickets here. Director Bousel describes Paradise Street as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream crossed with A Christmas Carol crossed with a Blackadder episode crossed with Look Back in Anger.” This production features performances by David Bohnet, Kyle McReddie, Nicole Odell, Jeunee Simon, Cat Luedtke, Phil Wong, Steven Westdahl, Luke Brady, Jayme Catalano, Jan Carty Marsh, and Christina Augello. The production features scenic designs by Mary Naughton, lighting design by Amanda Ortmayer, costume designs by Brooke Jennings, sound design by Ryan Lee Short, and music by Clayton Horath.
— Stuart Bousel (@StuartBousel) November 21, 2016
Our podcast co-host Rob Ridenour has been paying attention to this new production opening next week since August, when it was first announced, and auditions were held for this play around February of this year. It’s been a long time in the making but it’s finally here.
Special thanks to Clive Barker: Revelations for the information – be sure to check out The Clive Barker Archive, as well as volume III of the fantastic series of books Memory Prophecy and Fantasy, page 94 – “Paradise Amongst the Concrete“. A 1981 poster of the Edinburgh Festival production can be purchased at the Real Clive Barker Store.