The Big Meal at the Cheltenham Playhouse this June

The cast of The Big Meal | Photo: The Playhouse Company (Cheltenham)

The cast of The Big Meal | Photo: The Playhouse Company (Cheltenham) - Credit: Archant

The Big Meal – which received its world premiere in Chicago and was declared by Time Out the Number One Play of 2011 – will appear at the Cheltenham Playhouse from June 23-27

The Big Meal, June 23-27 at 7.45pm, The Playhouse in Cheltenham

The Big Meal, June 23-27 at 7.45pm, The Playhouse in Cheltenham - Credit: Archant

The play focuses on five generations of a modern family on a rollercoaster ride through life, from first kiss to final goodbye. The story is set in a typical American diner, and opens on the first night that Sam and Nicole meet; and so begins Dan Le Franc’s comic and touching drama, about love, marriage, raising children, and coping with the general onslaught of life.

The Big Meal spans 80 years in 90 minutes, with eight cast members playing roles ranging from the age of 10 to the age of 60. Of the production, the Director, Malcolm Ball, says: “I have long held the belief that you should only stage plays that truly excite you. There ought to be a real desire to tell a story that you believe in and which an audience will take to their hearts and, hopefully, provide an experience that remains with them for a long while. The writer, Dan Le Franc, has managed to turn convention on its head and present a play that will challenge both audience and actors alike.”

About these challenges, Malcolm says: “Here is the clever bit – Sam and Nicole whom we first meet in their twenties, have their characters passed up the chain to the older actors. The younger actors then start to play the children as they grow into their twenties, and so-on. It takes a bit of time to get your head around this, as the adult cast are on stage the whole time, and the costumes don’t change. The audience need to be following closely to make sure they keep up, but it doesn’t hurt if they are a bit behind the curve – I like that in a play!”

The original UK production opened at the Bath Royal in 2014 and starred Diana Quick. The production at the Cheltenham Playhouse is performed by members of The Playhouse Company, which has produced shows at the theatre since 1960.

The Cheltenham Playhouse celebrates its 70th Anniversary this year, and is the town’s intimate community theatre, providing a range of professional and amateur productions throughout the year.

The Playhouse Company’s Chair, Carol Meredith, said: “This lovely little theatre, with its Victorian auditorium and beautiful stained glass windows in the public Lounge Bar, offers the community a fantastic opportunity to get involved with all aspects of theatre at first-hand. I often hear people say that they didn’t know it was there! It is often overlooked as it competes with the raft of entertainment on offer such as the Festivals and the Everyman. We need the town’s support to keep this wonderful and beneficial resource thriving in our community.”

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The Big Meal will be appearing at Cheltenham Playhouse from Tuesday 23 to Saturday 27 June 2015. Tickets are on sale at the Box Office 01242 522852

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