Northern stories and hard-hitting drama combine for packed Autumn-Winter season at Oldham Coliseum

Oldham Coliseum Theatre today announces its programme for Autumn and Winter 2022-23. A mixture of Coliseum-produced and touring drama plus the theatre’s award-winning annual pantomime combine for a packed season of thought-provoking, fun filled and thrilling theatre to suit all tastes.


The Coliseum’s produced work this season focuses on stories from and about the North West with Jim Cartwright’s Road directed by Gitika Buttoo and Tim Firth’s Neville’s Island directed by Kash Arshad.




From Friday 16 September – Saturday 1 October the Coliseum’s historic auditorium transforms into a nameless Lancashire street for Road. Jim Cartwright’s 1986 debut play mixes humour and pathos to tell an all-too relevant story of deprivation and the strength of the human spirit. Now considered a modern classic, Road was voted the third best play of the 1980s and in the top 50 best plays in the history of theatre.


They say it’s grim up north, and sometimes they’re right. There’s no jobs and little hope, but there’s a party to go to that’ll take you from the gutter to the stars and back again. Guided by our well-oiled narrator, Scullery, step into the homes of the residents of Road and witness life lived to the extremes, where there’s nowhere left to fall but into a little light relief.


Director Gitika Buttoo’s last production at the Coliseum was the theatre’s September 2021 homecoming production of Love N Stuff – the first own-produced show to run in the theatre after 15 months of closure due to the pandemic. Her most recent work includes Staff Director for Father & The Assassin at The National Theatre, Disproportionately Affected for Tara Theatre and The Jungle Book at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre.




Running from Friday 17 February – Saturday 4 March 2023 Kash Arsad directs Keswick-based misadventure Neville’s Island.


Like The Apprentice, on an island in the Lake District with a bunch of middle-aged blokes who think they’re Bear Grylls, Neville’s Island is the hilarious and often surprising story of four businessmen on the team bonding exercise from hell. Neville, Angus, Gordon and Roy have unwittingly found themselves shipwrecked. As the night grows cold the four workmates discover how little they know about themselves and each other.


Tim Firth is one of Britain’s most beloved writers, with credits including Calendar Girls (film and theatre, plus The Girls musical), The Band and Our House. Director Kash Arshad is Associate Director of Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough and a former Associate Artist of the Coliseum with his company Rogue Bones. Kash worked as an actor for 15 years, and in 2015 made the leap into directing. His directorial work includes 10 Nights for Graeae Theatre, Tamasha and The Bush (nominated for the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre 2022) An Adventure at Octagon Theatre, Bolton and Freedom Studios’ touring production of Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile.




Oldham Coliseum’s Artistic Director Chris Lawson said:I’m really pleased that Gitika is returning to direct another September production to kick off the season, and that we can welcome Kash into the rehearsal room as director on a Main Stage show. This season is all about place: the different kinds of people you find in different places, and the different circumstances people find themselves in because of their location.”



Christmas 2022 begins on Saturday 12 November when the Coliseum opens its pantomime production of Robin Hood. Directed by the theatre’s Artistic Director Chris Lawson, the Coliseum’s annual festive production is renowned for its signature blend of slapstick, silliness hit songs, tradition and pop culture references, bringing each year’s production bang up to date.


Join real life hero Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men (in tights) on the arrow shooting adventure of a lifetime. In Sherwood Forest by way of Oldham there’s a nasty sheriff terrorising people with expensive taxes. By robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, and with some very skilled archery, can Robin save the day?


This year’s pantomime is the Coliseum’s first production of Robin Hood in over a decade. The Coliseum’s 2021-22 pantomime of Aladdin won the UK Pantomime Association Award for Best Costume Design (Celia Perkins) and received two further nominations, for Best Set Design (Celia Perkins) and Best Principal Boy (Shorelle Hepkin). The ensemble cast for Robin Hood will once again be led by Richard J Fletcher as the Dame, with Shorelle Hepkin returning in the titular role of Robin Hood. 


Robin Hood runs from Saturday 12 November 2022 – Saturday 7 January 2023.





The Coliseum welcomes the return of Rifco Theatre Company from Tuesday 11 – Saturday 15 October with Glitterball by Yasmin Wilde.


Glitterball is a play with live music, wry humour and a whole lotta sparkle. Sonia’s life has always been a bit of a double act, brought up as one-half of a Shirley Bassey tribute act. When her half brother Naim arrives he brings with him a refreshed sense of belonging and cultural identity and Sonia begins to shake off the past and piece together the music of her life.



The John Godber Company and Theatre Royal Wakefield present an updated version of Shakers: Under New Management! from Tuesday 18 – Saturday 22 October.


Shakers is the sister play to Bouncers and Godber’s revamped version puts women’s lives front and centre. The high street might be struggling to get back to normal but the Shakers bar is under new management and they are determined to make it the place to be seen. For waitresses Adele, Nicky and Mel, their lives juggle home, work, school and everything in between, but how long can it be maintained? 



The Coliseum welcomes a ghost story for Halloween with When Darkness Falls by James Milton and Paul Morrissey, running from Tuesday 25 – Saturday 29 October.


On a stormy night on Guernsey a young paranormal expert joins a sceptical history teacher to record a podcast based on the island’s paranormal history. As the expert regales his horrifying stories we’re drawn into dark pasts and disturbing truths.



Pilot Theatre’s multi-award winning production of Noughts & Crosses tours to the Coliseum from Tuesday 14 – Saturday 18 March 2023.


Sephy and Callum are in love, but Sephy is a Cross and Callum is a Nought. Between Noughts and Crosses there are racial and social divides and a segregated society teeters on a volatile knife edge. Based on the books by Malorie Blackman, this gripping Romeo and Juliet story is a captivating drama of love, revolution and what it means to grow up in a divided society. 



Coliseum Associate Alumni Nana-Kofi Kofuor’s debut play My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored returns to Oldham on Wednesday 7 September. Originally planned to run on the Coliseum stage in 2020 but rescheduled due to the pandemic, this gripping exploration of power and racial identity enjoyed sell out performances at Oldham Library in 2021, produced by Red Ladder Theatre Company and supported by the Coliseum.


When 15 year old Reece is roughly accosted outside M&S, his young, black teacher Gillian witnesses it all but doesn’t intervene for fear of her own safety. The next day the consequences of her lack of action erupt as she finds herself locked in a classroom with her angry student.



ThickSkin and Traverse Theatre Company present the painful yet uplifting true story of an eleven-year-old unaccompanied asylum seeker Dritan Kastrati in How Not To Drown from Thursday 23 – Saturday 25 March 2023.


In 2002, in the turmoil after the end of the Kosovan War, Dritan was sent on the notoriously perilous journey across the Adriatic with a gang of people smugglers to a new life in Europe. This action-packed and highly visual production was co-written by and features Dritan himself, telling his story of endurance for a little kid who wasn’t safe or welcomed anywhere in the world.




The Coliseum’s Season Ticket deal for Autumn and Winter offers multibuy discounts on ten shows: My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored, Road, Glitterball, Shakers: Under New Management, When Darkness Falls, Neville’s Island, Noughts & Crosses and How Not To Drown, plus remaining productions from the Spring-Summer season: We Should Definitely Have More Dancing and Jitney.





Elsewhere in the season the Coliseum welcomes four independent theatre companies to its more intimate Studio space presenting new writing.


Up Ere Productions present Roots on Wednesday 28 & Thursday 29 September. Set deep inside one of Salford’s left-behind council estates and telling the story of a blended family called back to their teenage home under the shadow of a recent loss Roots is dripping with banter and community spirit and is written entirely in verse and spoken word. On Friday 30 September The Long Way Home is Ben Philips’s part-autobiographical story of a man’s quest to come to terms with his box-maker father’s inheritance. Joyce Branagh returns on Wednesday 22 & Thursday 23 February 2023 with Ladies That Dig, a hilarious and moving comedy drama about the great outdoors and the people who enjoy it. On Friday 24 & Saturday 25 February 2023 I Am Not A Robot is a new comedy about female friendship, class, the rapid acceleration of Artificial Intelligence and what that could mean for us.



As part of a long-term project with KaskoSan Roma led charity, the Coliseum presents the third live and lively jam session with Richard O’Neill and Juice Vamosi on Wednesday 31 August. Gypsy Jam sessions explore the rich lyrical and performance traditions of the Roma and Romani Gypsy Cultures, welcoming special guests and providing a platform for new Gypsy, Roma and Traveller talent.


Richard O’Neill is a multi-award-winning storyteller, author and playwright born and raised in a large traditional nomadic Romani family whose history in England and Scotland goes back hundreds of years and Juice Vamosi is a Roma (Gypsy) activist, interpreter, film maker, marketing consultant and Gypsy party MC who built the KaskoSan social network in 2010, which now as a charity supports Roma families in Oldham, Bradford and Bolton. Previous Gypsy Jam special guests include world record breaking beatboxer Testament, who joined Richard and Juice in September 2021 and Voice Assembly, who joined Richard and Juice in March 2022.





Last, but certainly not least, the theatre welcomes its usual mix of special events covering music and comedy, plus a special sing a long film screening.


Sing-a-Long-a present Disney’s smash-hit Encanto in their trademark style – a fun-filled sing along screening with lyrics on screen, interactive prop bags and a live host to teach you some magical dance moves. Sing-a-Long-a Encanto comes to the Coliseum on Saturday 11 February 2023.


Comedy includes Justin Moorhouse: Stretch and Think on Saturday 10 September, Jenny Éclair: Sixty! (FFS) on Sunday 9 October and The Thinking Drinkers Pub Quiz on Saturday 11 March 2023.  


Plus the theatre welcomes musical tributes to The Greatest Hits of Motown on Friday 20 & Saturday 21 January 2023, Re-Take That play all of Take That and Robbie Williams’s million sellers on Friday 10 February 2023 and Radio GaGa return playing two magical hours of Queen on Friday 10 March 2023.

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