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Gwen Taylor to star in new thriller The Croft - Richmond Theatre and on tour

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE Original Theatre Company is presenting the new Ali Milles thriller, The Croft. Based on a true story and starring Gwen Taylor, it will begin its UK tour at Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham on January 22, 2020, before visiting Richmond Theatre from March 31 to April 4.

The Croft is set in the remote Scottish Highlands village of Coillie Ghille, where we encounter three women from different eras whose lives are intertwined by the croft’s dark history. In the 1880’s, we have Enid, the last person left in the village – she’s resilient, a survivor, who takes in the Laird’s pregnant daughter, Eilene.

In 2005, Ruth occupies the croft, which she and her husband Tom bought as a holiday home and where Ruth has her affair with local man, David. In the present day, Laura returns with her friend Suzanne to her parent’s croft after her mother Ruth’s death. They discover the terrifying truth that lurks within the croft.

In this bold and haunting play, the present interweaves with the past, as these women search for love in the midst of great danger. As we watch their stories intertwine and ancient tales surface, can the present heal the past?

Gwen Taylor (Enid) is best known for playing the title role in the ITV sitcom Barbara, as well as Anne Foster in Coronation Street, Peggy Armstrong in Heartbeat, Rita Simcock in A Bit of A Do, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA TV Best Actress Award, and Amy in Duty Free. Her film appearances include Another Mother’s Son, The Lady in the Van and Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

Taylor is currently touring the UK in The Lady Vanishes. Her other theatre credits include The Importance of Being Earnest and Night Must Fall (both for Original Theatre), Allelujah! (Bridge Theatre), The Slaves of Solitude (Hampstead Theatre), Driving Miss Daisy (Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre/UK Tour), Calendar Girls (UK tour), the title role in the national tour of Shirley Valentine, Top Girls (Royal Court and New York) and Gertrude in Sir Peter Hall’s production of Hamlet (Gielgud Theatre and national tour).

Caroline Harker will play the roles of Suzanne and Ruth. Harker is best known for her role as Celia in BBC’s Middlemarch, as well as WPC Hazel Wallace in ITV’s A Touch of Frost. Her other notable television credits include Coronation Street, Doctors and Holby City. She has also appeared in the films Lady Godiva: Back in the Saddle and The Madness of King George.

Harker most recently starred on stage in Relatively Speaking, Breaking Code and Handbagged (Salisbury Playhouse). Her other theatre credits include The Sweet Science of Bruising (Southwark Playhouse), The Chalk Garden (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Pride and Prejudice (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre).

Lucy Doyle will play the roles of Laura and Eilene. Doyle recently graduated from RADA and made her professional debut this year at Theatre Royal Bath in Vienna 1934 – Munich 1938 alongside Vanessa Redgrave and Paul Hilton.

Further casting will be announced in due course.

Produced by The Original Theatre Company (The Habit of Art, The Night Watch, Birdsong), The Croft is directed by the award-winning director Philip Franks, with design by Adrian Linford, lighting by Chris Davey and sound by Max Pappenheim.

The Croft is suitable for ages 12+.

Following the Cheltenham dates (January 22 – 25), The Croft will tour to Derby, Perth, Darlington, Southend, Cambridge, Croydon, Mold, Richmond, Eastbourne and Coventry.