A WARRINGTON theatre group that specialises in intimate productions with small casts is offering a rare chance to see Edward Albee’s iconic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The Tony Award-winning play first launched in 1962 and it recently returned to the West End after the death of Albee last year.

That meant that the rights for amateur groups to stage the production have been limited.

But due to a stroke of luck, Armchair Theatre have got the rights to present the play at The Brindley in Runcorn on September 28 and 29.

Jane Rigby, from Birchwood, will be playing Martha who was originally portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor.

She said: “We were lucky with this play because it’s recently been on at the West End but because of how far ahead you’ve got to book The Brindley we secured these dates two years ago and got the rights for the two nights.”

Albee’s play focuses on middle-aged Martha and her husband George who are joined by younger couple Nick and Honey for late night drinks after a party.

Battle lines are drawn as Martha and George drag their guests into their private hell of marriage.

Armchair Theatre was formed from the ashes of Consensus Theatre last year.

The unique aspect of the group is that there is no director – the cast work collaboratively on the direction of their plays instead.

Jane and Phillip Wade, who plays George, are also the only two permanent members with Elliot Lloyd and Jenny Owen completing the current cast as Nick and Honey.

Elliot has been on a Theatre in Education tour and Jenny teaches drama and works part time at Oldham Coliseum.

Jane, 52, added: “We all direct. We work collaboratively so four is a nice number.

“When you go beyond that you start getting too many opinions.

“Because we don’t have a director we invite people in to see it during rehearsals as it is useful at a certain times to have an outside eye. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much they’ve laughed at various lines.

“When you get into the intensity of the play itself you forget how much comedy there is in it.

“Each of the characters are difficult to play because there are so many layers.

“So you’ve got to have four people who can look into a character, find all those levels and portray that to an audience.”

Because it is just Jane and Phillip at the helm they have to prepare and source the sets, props and costumes themselves as well.

So Phillip, a painter and decorator for the Village Hotel in Centre Park, has been building the likes of a bookcase, staircase, fireplace, door and window seat on and off for the past nine months.

Jane said: “My car no longer fits in the garage as Phil has been making the set in there.”

Phillip added: “When you’re in other societies you’ve got other people to deal with the sets. So I’ve been learn all these little things I didn’t know before like how to put a 9ft flat up and make it stay up.”

Phillip admitted he is a perfectionist when it comes to the props too.

The 56-year-old said: “I’m very meticulous. It has to be right.

“It’s set in the 60s so I went and looked at what people used to wear like the trilbys and the thin ties.

“We’ve even got an old fashioned radiogram for the play from eBay.

“I had to travel down to Bristol to get it and I’m going to London to pick up sugar glass bottles.

“They won’t send them up because they’re that fragile.

“There’s a rifle in it and that’s come down from Hertfordshire. It’s the only one in the country and it fires flowers. It’s all these labour intensive things behind the scenes to create this illusion.”

  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is at The Brindley on Septemner 28 and 29. For tickets visit tickets.thebrindley.org.uk