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Criterion Theatre


In the Auditorium and Bar
24th August from 20:00 to 21:30
Coffee Morning
In the Bar and Foyer
3rd September from 09:30 to 12:30
Company Members AGM
In the Auditorium and Bar
21st September from 19:30 to 22:00
Coffee Morning
In the Bar and Foyer
1st October from 09:30 to 12:30


From July 17th to 23rd 2022, as part of the National Drama Festival, sixteen plays were performed by amateur theatre companies. This week-long theatrical extravaganza was the final heat of the annual National Drama Festivals Association competition, which brings together winners and high scorers from numerous drama festivals which have taken place across the UK as well as entries from Switzerland and Guernsey.   The Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon competed for the first time in 2021, where we achieved Runner Up in the full length play category with 'Queers'.  This year, we were determined to up our game, and we took two plays to one of the regional qualifiers, the Lighthorne Festival of One Act Plays in June- 'Closer to God' by Anna Jordan and 'The Gift: Act 2' by Janice Okoh. Both plays scored highly, but we were thrilled that 'The Gift' received one of the highest scores ever given to a play at Lighthorne and got automatic entry to the final competition.   Given that the plays are the best at their regional festivals, the standard at the final is exceptionally high. We were therefore over the moon to go on to finally win the trophy for Best One Act Play, and Best Comedy Moment for our production of 'The Gift'.   The whole experience was thrilling and so rewarding. It is a competition, but within a very supportive environment, and the adjudicator Jan Palmer-Sayer gave such constructive feedback to everyone involved. You get to see all different kinds of plays and meet lots of interesting people, connected together through their shared love of theatre.   As a side note, our good friends The Talisman Theatre in Kenilworth won Runner Up in the Full Length Play category for their play 'Twinkle' which just shows how high the quality of amateur theatre is in our little corner of the Midlands.   You have a chance to see some of the festival entries on Sunday 11th September 2022, where we will be putting on a double bill of 'Closer to God' and 'Twinkle'. The performance starts at 5:30pm and tickets are available at on the Criterion website at []    
31st July
Criterion President Keith Railton and Chairman Jon Elves talk about the Criterion Memories project and some of their own memories.   Helen Withers talks through her (and family's) fondest memories of the theatre and the production process.   Richard and Jill Warren share their memories about a range of topics from nudity, bar productions and armed guards at a Criterion buffet!   Dave Brown had no intention of joining a theatre group in 1964 but talks about the huge impact the Criterion had on his life, even after leaving to settle in Canada in 1973.   Dave Cornish talks about the magic created in the tech box over the past 45 years; from the creation of sound effects to missing cues while preparing for the next show!   Becky Cribden and Paul Forey talk about their time at the theatre from the younger generation's perspective. From unmemorable teachers in drama classes, to finding each other (and a lot of friends along the way) - and the odd sound box joke.   Jamie Firth talks to Gennie Holmes about her time at the theatre, including the difficulties of getting served at the bar when everyone knows your age, the thrill of period costumes in summer and the benefit of being on stage with your husband when things go wrong!   Karl and Sylvia Stafford talk about their time at the theatre, including making dresses, meeting at the theatre and trousers splitting on stage (everyone's favourite theatre story!   Pete Bagley talks about the days of getting postcards through the door, arguments about hobbyhorses and setting fires backstage.   Dave and Linda Holmes talk about their lives at the Criterion, with tales of wardrobe, set building and after show parties. * Apologies for the poor sound quality on the film.     Ian Knight talks about his "spiritual home", the development of technology in productions and falling through roofs.   Olivia Holmes and Pete Meredith about growing up within the theatre, learning life lessons and the sweat involved in firing guns on time!   Mark Wiszowaty about his happiest moments at the theatre, including a power cut that prevented a plague, and being booed at an old people's home.     John Ruscoe about his time at the theatre, including his fondest productions, and the balance involved in producing high-quality amateur theatre.  
25th April


Mary Stuart

With Power Comes Fear

Sep 3rd to 10th 2022
Friedrich Schiller adapted by Peter Oswald

Deposed, imprisoned and powerless Mary, Queen of Scots represents everything that threatens the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The two women have much in common, having been manipulated by powerful forces around them, but only one can live. A thrilling fictional meeting is at the heart of Schiller’s play in which Mary redeems her youthful crimes through an ordeal that lifts her into realms of spiritual serenity, while Elizabeth descends deeper into rage, revenge and deception. Oswald’s striking adaptation in a mixture of modern prose and poetry is accessible and passionate.

Reviews of the play

"an excellent piece of writing in the technical sense - it’s expertly crafted so as to keep the stakes high at all times, to really create the claustrophobic world of the court... it is truly special to find not one but two such well-formed women in a historical piece like this." Fireside Theatre, 

"At a time when world media is obsessed with the English royals’ pretty wedding frocks and resplendent pomp and ceremony, showcasing a perfectly dressed union of state, monarchy and church, Peter Oswald’s new version of 18th century playwright Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart takes us back to a time when having influence through power, religion, loyalty and monarchy, could literally be a matter of life or death...and shows us that time hasn’t changed one aspect of monarchy: that the world continues to judge by appearance, rather than reality." Kate Ward-Smythe, New Zealand Herald.


EDI Assessment

In line with our EDI policy, we undertake an EDI impact assessment of all our artistic programming. ‘Mary Stuart’ has no specific diversity message within its narrative. The play can be cast with complete neutrality on race/ethnicity. Some of its themes call for gender specificity in certain roles.


Anniversary Celebrations 2021

Criterion at night

February 2021-February 2022 was the 60th anniversary of the Criterion Theatre opening. Why not check out the wonderful interviews conducted so far with members reflecting on their favourite memories and stories about the Criterion over the last 60 years in our Criterion Memories project.


Coming Soon

Anna Jordan and Philip Meeks
Main House
September 11th
Charles Dickens adapted by Hugh Janes
Main House
Oct 29th to Nov 5th
Laura Wade
Main House
Dec 10th to 17th

Just Finished

David Greig & Gordon McIntyre
Main House
Jul 2nd to 9th
Jim Cartwight
Main House
Mar 26th to Apr 2nd
Janice Okoh
Main House
Feb 14th to 19th
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