Current Shows - Red Ladder Theatre Company

Red Ladder Theatre Company

Current Shows

Playing The Joker

December, 1977 – it’s nine years since the infamous ‘Watersplash Final’ – and the once revered “Uncle Eddie” has withdrawn into the protective walls of the The Queens Hotel.

Out front fanatical Rugby League fan Eddie Marlowe, grieving the recent loss of his father, is hellbent on speaking alone with his idol. Will he get that chance?

Playing The Joker is about one man’s dream to give rugby league a national profile – written by award winning author and former Sunday Mirror journalist Anthony Clavane (Leeds Lads).

Through a winning combination of gripping action and infectious humour, Playing the Joker presents a moving and funny slice of 1970s northern life.

After a sell-out run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in November 2013, followed by a 2014 tour to rugby league clubs throughout the north of England, Playing the Joker is back on the road – 50 years on since the ‘Watersplash Final’. Featuring an all new talented cast of three including Leeds Rhinos forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan, and directed by Red Ladder’s Artistic Director Rod Dixon.

Recommended age 14+

Yorkshire Post review

Forty-20 review

Rugby League Cares Review 


The Damned United

Down the stairs…

Along the corridor…

Round the corner…

Into the dressing room… HIS dressing room. Hateful, hateful place. Spiteful, spiteful place. Dirty, dirty Leeds.

1974. Brian Clough, the enfant terrible of British football, tries to redeem his managerial career and reputation by winning the European Cup with his new team. Leeds United. The team he has openly despised for years, the team he hates and which hates him. Don Revie’s Leeds.

Originally co-produced with the West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Damned United takes you inside the tortured mind of a genius slamming up against his limits, and brings to life the beauty and brutality of football, the working man’s ballet.

‘this could very easily have been an exercise in lionisation, but the decision to show, in equal measure, Clough’s strengths and weaknesses is a smart one’ 4* review from The List 

‘powerful and demanding, Red Ladder Theatre Company’s production of The Damned United is every bit as belligerent and uncompromising as the protagonist of its story.’ 4* review from Broadway Baby.

‘Yes, this a play about football, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a tribute to an era-defining genius, a portrait of a man terminally wrapped-up in his own bravado, a study of loyalty and friendship under pressure…’ 4* Review in The Stage

‘An intriguing portrait of a man who had an ability to inspire and aggravate is painted through this briskly-paced production, and the charismatic performances make this a compelling play.’ London Theatre 1

‘This is an intimate character study of one of sport’s biggest personalities and is a brilliant production for both football fans and theatre lovers.’ 4* Review from Three Weeks

‘a masterpiece of theatre’ –  9/10 review from Liverpool Sound and Vision

‘a fascinating, if fictional, psychological study of one of sport’s most complex, charismatic and infuriating characters’ 4* review from Arts City Liverpool

‘…the production captures the essence of one man’s tortured mind and his attempts to do things his way.’ 5* Review from Daily Business Magazine

By Anders Lustgarten
Adapted from the novel by David Peace
In association with Unity Theatre Liverpool



A Smoke & Oakum Theatre production presented by Red Ladder Theatre Company:

Mickey and his team of cornermen never seem to have much luck in the boxing world.

The fighters they manage always end up losing and, after a bruising last outing, no one wants to work with them. Until, that is, they sign a young boxer whose winning ways catapult them into a world of success they’ve never dreamed of.

Is Sid Sparks their meal ticket to fame and fortune?

“A strong play, a real achievement” Broadway Baby

“Thrilling to watch” The Scotsman

“A real knockout” The Stage

Recommended for 14+


The Life and Soul

Jim’s always been a bit of a character, just like his Dad, and spends most of his life between the bookies, the pub and the football. He’s always had this lingering feeling though that he doesn’t quite fit into this world, that there’s something different about him, something wrong…

Jim’s never told his story to anyone before, but tonight he’s going to tell it to you…

The Life and Soul is written by Chris O’Connor, directed by Rod Dixon and produced by Jen Sullivan.


Wrong ‘Un

A one-woman suffragette musical written by Boff Whalley, originally directed by Justin Audibert and is now under the direction of Red Ladder’s Artistic Director Rod Dixon. February 1918, and after several decades of protest and four years of bloody war Parliament is poised to grant what the suffragettes have demanded and fought for – votes for all women. After years of direct action, arrest, imprisonment and force-feeding, it seems their time has come. Wrong ‘Un tells of the adventures of Annie Wilde, a Lancashire mill-girl galvanised by a rousing mixture of injustice, conviction, self-doubt and fear on her journey from schoolroom to prison cell and beyond in a musical drama that draws on class, privilege, hope and disappointment in wartime England. Wrong ‘Un opened to a great reception at the Leeds Big Bookend festival on 9 June  2013. We’ve toured to some fantastic venues in autumn 2013 and spring 2014, and will continue to do so throughout the rest of this year. A full tour schedule is available below – please note: some dates will not currently feature booking links, these will be put on sale shortly. After over three years of performing Ella Harris will no longer be performing as Annie and we are delighted to welcome Kathleen Yore into the role! Kathleen gained a first class honours degree in acting at Bretton Hall. She now works as a freelance puppet builder, puppeteer, clown, actor, musician and workshop facilitator. She is artistic director of Odd Doll Puppetry who are associate artists at Cast in Doncaster and Harrogate Theatre Royal. She devises and tours work for both family and adult audiences. Kathleen also continues to work on productions with companies such as Pickled Image, Invisible Thread, Pif-Paf Street Theatre, and Alive and Kicking. She teaches regularly around Yorkshire and beyond, such as at Guildhall in London and is a regular children’ s hospital giggle doctor for Theodora Children’s Trust. A full education pack is available to accompany this show, download it here – Wrong ‘Un Education Pack June 2013