A rarely-seen Thomas Kilroy play, featuring musical theatricality, dramatic tension, multi-faceted characters and clever dark humour; this comic and touching tale explores what happens when a travelling group of English actors run out of petrol in an Irish town in 1943.

Presented by Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, which was opened in 1946 by Laurence Olivier as the training arm of the Bristol Old Vic company, and started life in rooms above a vegetable warehouse near Bristol Old Vic’s stage door.

There is an historic relationship between the two Bristol organisations that saw in its early years, when the school and the theatre were completely integrated, students taking part in every aspect of the theatre’s productions. John Dalby wrote the score to Hugh Hunt’s Legendary A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a 19-year old student of the school in 1949, and students provided memorable crowd scenes right back to a riotous Julius Caesar in 1950. Until the late 1980s, many students would be employed by Bristol Old Vic after graduating as a natural progression of their training. Previous Theatre School alumni who began their professional careers at Bristol Old Vic include Jeremy Irons (to be seen at Bristol Old Vic in A Long Day’s Journey into Night as part of the Theatre’s 250th anniversary celebrations next year), Daniel Day-Lewis, Tim Pigott-Smith, Samantha Bond and Amanda Redman.


First performed in 1991 by Ireland’s Field Day Company (founded by Brian Friel and Stephen Rea), The Madame Macadam Travelling Theatre is a funny and moving drama, and is the first Thomas Kilroy play to be performed at Bristol Old Vic. It is a sensitive and poignant lesson in the nature of cultural differences and their consequences.

Europe is in the grip of World War II. Mankind has gone into battle. Ireland declares an emergency. It is a time of glimmer men and black bread; ration books and rumours of invasion; L.D.F. patrols and Step Together weeks. For the town of Mullingar, things will never be the same again; not because of the war, but because Madame MacAdam has arrived; “the wonderful Madame MacAdam and her troupe of travelling players …”


The Madame Macadam Travelling Theatre
30 Oct-10 Nov
Bristol Old Vic Studio
7pm, 2pm (Thu & Sat mat)
£15/£10 conc (plus booking fee)
Box office: 0117 987 7877
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