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The Lamplighters - Tabard Theatre

The Lamplighters

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

GLENN Chandler, the originator of the BAFTA winning television series Taggart, returns to his ‘murder mystery’ roots to direct the world premiere of his new play The Lamplighters, which runs at the Tabard Theatre from March 19 to April 13, 2013.

Inspired by the cases of the Birmingham Six and Colin Stagg, The Lamplighters explores an often neglected theme – how a sensational murder case and miscarriage of justice can affect the lives not only of those wrongly accused but also the police officers involved.

In this chilling tale of obsession, revenge and dark deeds, there’s been a murder. Three of them in fact – a brutal killing of a mother and her two children on an isolated Cumbrian hillside. It’s the tenth anniversary and the case is still unsolved.

Every year three former detectives meet in a remote farmhouse to revisit the scene of the crime in the hope of finally solving the case. But hair-raising events unfold as the mists close in and an unexpected guest comes knocking at the door. Will this be the night when justice is finally done?

The cast includes Shane Armstrong (as John McBurney), Tara Howard (Jo), Stewart Marquis (Alan Michaels), Scott Oswald (Billy) and Rob Witcomb (Frank Stringer).

Since Taggart, Chandler has been keen to take on new challenges and has been drawn to the immediacy of fringe theatre. As he explained: “I wanted to do different things, explore other creative ventures, take the kind of single-handed risks one could no longer do in television. Besides, it takes so long now to get any new TV series off the ground.”

The results speak for themselves. Having produced Boys of the Empire, which transferred from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to London’s Kings Head Theatre where his Scouts in Bondage also ran, he decided to turn his hand to a musical. And so, Cleveland Street the Musical, a story which explored the infamous male brothel scandal in London in 1889, was born and played to packed houses at Above the Stag Theatre.

Last year, he turned his hand to directing with his adaptation of The Custard Boys which met with critical acclaim, and now he returns to familiar themes of murder, crime and the thriller. “I’m not sure what Taggart would make of it all”, he said,” but it’s good to be back writing about murder again, this time for the stage. It’s like coming home again, completing the circle.”

Presented by Boys of the Empire Productions, The Lamplighters has costume and set design by David Shields, and lighting by Richard Lambert.

Tickets: £16, £14 concessions – available from the box office on 020 8995 6035 or online at www.tabardtheatre.co.uk/.

Time: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm.

NB: The Lamplighters is not suitable for children under the age of 12.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado runs at the Tabard Theatre from Wednesday, February 20 to Sunday, March 17, 2013.