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Criterion Theatre


In the Bar
19th January from 20:00 to 21:00
Coffee Morning
In the Bar and Foyer
5th February from 10:30 to 12:00
In the Bar
23rd February from 20:00 to 21:30
In the Bar
2nd March from 20:00 to 21:00


Warm greetings for the new year to you all. 2022 has opened with a less positive situation regarding Covid-19 than we had hoped for. Nevertheless, we remain optimistic about the future and we have exciting productions coming up over the next few weeks into the Spring/Summer. Clearly the situation regarding the Omicron variant is fast-moving, but as yet, there are no new restrictions planned beyond those relating to the existing Plan B, which will be officially reviewed by the Government on January 26th. So, we are moving ahead as planned with our production of ‘The Gift’ by Janice Okoh from January 29th to February 5th and the three other productions after that (‘Two’ by Jim Cartwright in March, ‘Mary Stuart’ by Friedrich Schiller in May and ‘Midsummer’ by David Greig in July). Tickets are now on sale for ‘The Gift’ which runs from January 29th to February 5th. This is an outrageous and witty play, based around the true story of Sarah Bonetta, a Black African girl rescued from captors, brought to England and given to Queen Victoria. It moves between historical and contemporary settings and is guaranteed to entertain, provoke and inform in equal measure. Rehearsals are back in full swing after the Christmas break and we can’t wait to share the production with you. Please do give your vital support to the Criterion and to our steadfast aim of continuing to produce quality live theatre despite the difficult circumstances, by getting your ticket now at:  [] With due concern for being as safe as we can in enclosed spaces, we have taken the decision to offer this production to 50% capacity with more space between booked seats to facilitate social distancing. I thought it would also be helpful to let you know about some of the other ways we are working to make the theatre as Covid-safe as possible for audiences and cast, crew and front of house teams. * Plan B regulations make it compulsory for audience members to wear face coverings when watching a show, and we anticipate that this will still be in place for the production run of ‘The Gift’. * ‘The Gift’ will have two intervals between 3 Acts, facilitating increased ventilation through the building during the evening’s performance. * When not performing on stage or consuming a drink, we strongly recommend the wearing of face coverings when in the theatre building. * We are encouraging everyone to undertake a lateral flow test and achieve a negative result before coming to the theatre building. * Without understudies, a Covid case within the cast and/or crew will almost certainly mean the shutting down of the production. Therefore, we are all taking extra care to personally avoid Covid-risk as we head into the final rehearsal and production weeks, doing our best to improve our chances of avoiding a Covid outbreak. But, pleased be reassured that you will still have a great time when you come to the theatre. There will be the same warm welcome from our wonderful teams and achieving that same exciting spirit of live theatre is central to all that we do. Of course, as ever, we will keep a watchful eye on the situation and will amend and change planning as necessary.  For now, let’s all work together to make sure these wonderful shows get up and running for the enjoyment of audiences. All good health and creative dust to you all, Anne-marie Greene, Artistic Director.
7th January
On Wednesday December 1st, Anne-marie Greene, the Criterion's Artistic Director will be contributing to a session on diversity and inclusion in amateur theatre for the Creative Lives Online Network, part of the  wider #CreativeNetwork programme. Open #CreativeNetwork [] conversations are held on Zoom to_ share practices and responses to changing pandemic guidance []* and restrictions for amateur and professional performing arts [] groups._   This latest session is co-hosted by the Little Theatre Guild and everyone is warmly welcomed to attend.  1 DECEMBER 2021, 6 - 7PM - CELEBRATING CULTURAL DIVERSITY Opening our doors is just the start - how can greater diversity and inclusion extend our theatres and productions? The session includes examples of successful collaborations and policies in action from: * _Anne-marie Greene__,_ Artistic Director, Criterion Theatre [/../../edi/edi-policy] * _Howard Shepherdson & Tajinder Sindra__,_ The Questors, Ealing [] and Punjabi Theatre Academy []   Register for the event here [] _Between these Zoom sessions, you're welcome to join our Facebook group [] and attend other Creative Network sessions to keep sharing news, ideas and resources. To suggest a theme or for other comments and questions, please contact claire [at] creative-lives.org_
19th November
Thanks to all Company members who took part in the AGM on Wednesday 22nd September either in person or online. We also celebrated those members who’ve been particularly super during a very challenging year so congratulations to: Charlotte Rawson - Anthony Herbert Award: For significant contribution to the Theatre’s activities in any capacity by a younger member of the Company. Steve Brown - Charles H Smith Award: For significant contribution to the Theatre’s activities by a member of the Company. Becky Bartlett - Louise Bagley Award for design Jon Elves - Criterion Award for artistic excellence Well done to all The Criterion Board                   817 People reached 195 Engagements Boost post   2727 5 comments 2 shares   Like       Comment     Share    
24th September
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


The Gift

An outrageous play about imperialism, cross-racial adoption, cultural appropriation – and tea.

Jan 29th to Feb 5th 2022
Janice Okoh

The gift of the title is a Black African girl rescued from captors, brought to England and given to Queen Victoria. The Queen adopts her and names her Sarah, who is raised as the ward of a series of trusted guardians within royal circles. We meet Sarah at her Brighton home in 1862, on the eve of her departure for Africa with her businessman husband James. She is expecting a visit from her guardian Mrs Schoen, who brings unexpected and undesirable guests to tea.

In the present day, a middle class black British couple, Sarah an engineer and James an antique dealer, have recently moved to a Cheshire village with their adopted daughter. Sarah and James are discussing her coming to terms with a new project management job in Nigeria, when the doorbell rings. Neighbours Harriet and Ben have brought a “settling in” gift of homemade muffins. They stay for tea with surprising, shocking and hilarious results.

When the two Sarahs take tea with Queen Victoria the consequences are more than two of them could have imagined.

This is an amateur production by arrangement with Nick Hern Books.

Reviews of the Play

"a clever and complex vision of black Britons, then and now... The Gift offers a formally original and intellectual engagement with forgotten history, cross-racial adoption and the impact of imperialism on black British lives today." (Arifa Akbar, The Guardian)

"This is an excruciatingly well-written play as...Okoh brilliantly skewers contemporary, white views surrounding race." (Oliver Ainley,

EDI Assessment

In line with our EDI policy, we undertake an EDI impact assessment of all our artistic programming. 'The Gift' by Janice Okoh has a central diversity message notably an exploration of what it means to be of African heritage in Britain and forms of historical and contemporary racism. The playwright specifies the race/ethnicity of particular roles as crucial to the narrative of the story. 


Anniversary Celebrations 2021

Criterion at night

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are still working within a certain level of uncertainty but are gradually moving towards business as usual, so do keep a regular eye here on the website for updates to our activities happening over the next few months. 

February 2021-February 2022 is the 60th anniversary of the Criterion Theatre opening so there will be a number of events celebrating our past and looking to the future.  

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

Jim Cartwight
Main House
Mar 12th to 19th
Friedrich Schiller adapted by Peter Oswald
Main House
May 7th to 14th
David Greig & Gordon McIntyre
Main House
Jul 2nd to 9th

Just Finished

Victor Gialanella adapted from the novel by Mary Shelley
Main House
Oct 30th to Nov 6th
Glen Berger
Main House
Aug 28th to Sep 4th
Curated by Mark Gatiss
Criterion On Tour
July 18th
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