‘Ashes’ at the Octagon


The Octagon Theatre Bolton and the University of Bolton are proud to present the rarely performed play Ashes, written by David Rudkin. A powerful and poetic play that follows the struggle of a couple as they try to have a child, Ashes is filled with dark humour and stark realism.

Ashes is to be directed by Associate Artistic Director David Thacker and sees the return of Octagon Theatre favourite Colin Connor (The Winter’s Tale, Two, Two2, The Family Way) and Katy Cavanagh (Coronation Street; Midsomer Murders; Two, Two2) in the lead roles of Colin and Anne. Completing the cast of four are John Branwell (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Kate Coogan (Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!, Secret Thoughts) who will be taking on various roles throughout the play.

It’s the 1970’s, and Anne and Colin desperately want a child. They are trying everything to achieve this dream. They subject themselves to the indignity of trailing from doctor to specialist to consultant, and suffer the humiliation of feeling sexually and socially inadequate. Through their struggle they come to question themselves: why this blind compulsion to want a child? Anne and Colin’s efforts to achieve their goal of parenthood are tested and they must summon all of their strength to find a way forward together.

On the production, director David Thacker comments: “We are so pleased to welcome Colin, Katy, John and Kate back to the Octagon for this extraordinary play. It’s an honour to perform David Rudkin’s powerful play and we’re delighted that David will be able to share rehearsals with us for this important revival. Although the play is rooted in the early 1970s, I think it will move audiences as profoundly in 2017 as it moved me when I first saw it in 1976. I can’t wait for our audiences to experience a play that will be completely new to most of them.”

In 2016, Colin Connor won the Manchester Theatre Award for Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in A View from a Bridge at the Octagon in 2015.

Katy Cavanagh, who grew up in Bolton, has previously worked with Colin Connor on stage, under David’s direction, in Jim Cartwright’s Two and Two 2 in 2016.

Octagon Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman says: “We are producing Ashes to express the struggle that many people face when trying to conceive a child. Through this production we hope to encourage constructive conversations about the difficulties people face, the challenging circumstances that many find themselves in and to explore the bigger questions surrounding fertility treatment which, even 40 years on, does not always provide the miracles many are in search of or promised.”

Ashes plays at the Octagon Theatre Bolton from Thu 23 February to Sat 11 March 2017.

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