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  • Date and time: Thursday 23 June 2011, 7.45pm
  • Location: The Theatre, Department of Theatre, Film and Television (TFTV), Heslington East Campus, University of York
  • Admission: Advance booking for 'A Mad World, My Masters' is via the York Theatre Royal Box Office over the counter, or by phone - 01904 623568 - or online at

Event details

Friday 24th June, 7.45pm.

Saturday 25th June, 7.45pm.

Dress Rehearsal Photos

Rehearsal photos.

Advance booking for 'A Mad World, My Masters' is via the York Theatre Royal Box Office over the counter, or by phone - 01904 623568 - or online at

This latest production by the Department of Theatre, Film and Television's praised Out of the Blue Theatre Company is the first staff-directed show on the superbly equipped main stage of the department's state-of-the-art new building on the Heslington East Campus. Getting to TFTV map (PDF , 214kb)

Thomas Middleton, one of Shakespeare's greatest playwriting contemporaries and his close collaborator on several plays, is most famous today for writing two of the finest seventeenth-century tragedies, The Changeling and Women Beware Women.

But he also created a brilliant array of witty and entertaining comedies set in early Jacobean London, which explore with relish a cutthroat urban world, where the "best art" of the inhabitants is "to dissemble well". A Mad World, My Masters is one of the most inventive of these London comedies.

The play takes its audience on an exhilarating whirlwind ride through a series of plots and counterplots, with surprises around every corner and some of the cleverest comic plotting and dialogue written for the pre-civil war stage.

The action weaves together two contrasted stories of trickery and deceit (one involving money, the other adultery), in which those who think themselves most cunning - and who may indeed seem to be so - do not always win the race.

The play's demands will allow the outstanding technical resources in the department's new principal theatre to be exploited to the full.

The set and costumes for 'A Mad World, My Masters' are designed by Alex Lowde. Alex has worked extensively in Scotland, for Scottish Opera, Dundee Repertory Theatre, and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. He won the Critics Award for Theatre Design in Scotland in 2008-9 and 2009-10 and was nominated in the Best Design Category at the 2010 TMA Awards. He has also designed for the Young Vic, Lyric Hammersmith, Opera North, Royal Academy of Music, and the Royal Opera House 2. He has just completed work on a production of 'Anna Karenina' at Dundee, where his other designs include Ibsen's 'A Doll's House', Bernard Pomerance's 'The Elephant Man', and Peter Shaffer's 'Equus'. His opera commissions include Janacek's 'The Excursions of Mr Broucek', Shostakovitch's 'Paradise Now' and 'The Nose', and the Jonathan Dove/David Lan 'Tobias and the Angel', which opened the redesigned Young Vic.

The production, directed by Michael Cordner (TFTV's Head of Theatre), assisted by Tom Cantrell and Mark Smith, is supported by a generous endowment from the Sylvia and Colin Shepherd Charitable Trust, without which students would not have had the chance to work on such an ambitious project and work with professionals like Alex Lowde.

The Out of the Blue Theatre Company was founded by Michael Cordner and Mary Luckhurst in 2002. Its recent successes include Caryl Churchill's Far Away and Mad Forest (at the York Theatre Royal Studio), John Marston's The Malcontent (in the Dixon Studio Theatre in Wentworth College at the University), and Raising the Roof (a comedy revue, including student writing, (performed in the Dixon and at BAFTA in London in spring 2010).