What's on

King Lear

by William Shakespeare

10-20 July 2019 in the open air at Reading Abbey Ruins

The country is divided.

King Lear, ruler of the British Empire, intends to split his lands, his wealth, and his power between his three daughters. All but the title of King will be bestowed upon them, yet one decision to turn his back on those that love him the most will change everything. His unpredictable behaviour and fall from grace lead to exile, conflict, madness and death for all around him.

In its second year performing back in the Reading Abbey Ruins (after 2018’s sell-out production of Much Ado About Nothing), Progress Theatre is delighted to present King Lear in the imposing surroundings it deserves, within the walls of the magnificent Chapter House.

No performance on Sunday 14th July

Reading-based Blue Collar Street Food will be onsite serving craft beer, Pimms, prosecco and soft drinks.

See Planning your visit for more information about the venue.



King Lear - Barrie Armstrong
Goneril - Steph Gunner-Lucas
Regan - Becca Douglas
Cordelia/Fool - Abbey Gillett
Duke of Gloucester - Jeremy Radburn
Edmund - Kevin Copping
Edgar - Ruaridh Watt
Duchess of Kent - Kate Shaw
Duke of Cornwall - Matt Tully
Duke of Albany - Oliver Godfrey
Oswald - Tanvi Virmani
Gentleman Knight - Rod Sloan
King of France - Simone Gobber
Duke of Burgundy/Curan - Joseph Doamo
Doctor/First Servant of Cornwall - Steph Dewar
Old Man - Alex Buchan
Herald of Albany - Emma Kellow
Herald of Cordelia - Georgia McCall
Second Knight - Heather Price

Directed by Dan Clarke

♫ Greg Abate & The Craig Milverton Trio

Friday 12 July 2019 7.30pm

Greg Abate
  • Greg Abate alto saxophone
  • Craig Milverton piano
  • Sandy Suchdolski double bass
  • Nick Millward drums

Multi-reeds player, Greg Abate hails from Rhode Island USA and has been touring the UK most years: very popular and a regular at Swanage Jazz Festival. In the mid 70’s after finishing a four year program at Berklee College Of Music, Greg played lead alto for the Ray Charles Orchestra for two years and in 1978 formed his group Channel One which was a favourite in the New England area and from there had the opportunity to play tenor sax with the revived Artie Shaw Orchestra.

Following this experience Greg ventured out as post hard bop soloist playing jazz festivals, jazz societies and jazz clubs throughout the US, Canada, most of Europe, UK, Moscow and Georgia. Never failing to deliver a storming set, he has been described as an absolute powerhouse who is not content to rely on stock bebop riffs and standard chord progressions. Sharp angularity of phrasing and the often startling pauses in his fast-moving lines give his work a feeling of constant invention and creativity.

The Craig Milverton Trio match his bravado and, take it from us, will leave you wanting more.

Craig’s Milverton’s main influences are Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans and his jazz interest was spawned by his father’s record collection, initially the boogie woogie pianists and then Oscar and Ella. Craig began performing in public as young as ten years of age, but it was not until he was twenty-one that he turned professional. Since then he has played with almost everyone on the UK scene from rhythm and blues bands, Humph, Paul Jones, Digby Fairweather, George Melly to hard boppers like Peter King, Don Rendell, Jean Toussaint as well as Greg Abate. In fact Craig can play any jazz style it seems.

His regular bass player, Sandy Suchodolsky is excellent and a leader in his own right. Playing with Greg requires and in depth knowledge of his repertoire. Greg will just take off in an intro after the last number leaving the trio to work out what he is leading to and it is fascinating to watch Sandy get into the groove in these instances. Great improviser as well. The trio is complete with Nick Millward who like Craig lends his prowess to a variety of jazz genres: Kenny Ball Jnr, Chris Barber and Alan Barnes to name a few. However, his inspirations are Ed Thigpen, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich and he plays with the energy, wit, skill and drive his heroes demand. The trio and Greg are newcomers to Progress and we look forward to giving them a warm welcome.


Jazz at Progress is presented in association with Jazz in Reading.

14th Annual WriteFest

WriteFest banner

11-14 September 2019

Seven brilliant new short plays in our 14th Annual WriteFest.

The Bumblebee by Caroline White
A patient wants answers from their doctor. Why are they not allowed to leave this hospital and return to their daughter? And why have they no memory of what led them here?

Cat in a Box by John R. Goodman
Never take over a cat’s cardboard box. Especially if you’re the ‘other’ cat. It may lead to discussions on quantum theory. And fish sticks!

The Cord by Liz Carroll
Angela tells her poignant tale of a daughter/mother relationship and the pain of watching a loved one inflicted by an illness. 

The Costume Department by Emily Goode
Comedy caper as two Costume Department volunteers bicker over how best to organise the costumes and their unorthodox fundraising schemes in this brilliantly funny comedy.  

How To Put A Scratch In A Dinghy by David Pearson
When Zara witnesses a disturbing incident at a club, she takes matters into her own hands.  But at what cost? Has she gone too far? A gripping and thought-provoking drama about social media and real-life consequences. 

Meeting Mrs Grim by Anthony Travis
Jonathan has a visitor, and she comes equipped with a scythe. As the clock counts down, he soon realises that it’s not all fun and games for Mrs Grim. 

Perversions by Dan Clarke
Three strangers; one mystery. One cannot see, one cannot hear, one cannot speak.  What has brought them here? And what lies ahead? A dark and captivating thriller.

Auditions take place at the theatre on 1 June 2019 at 3.00pm.
Our auditions are open to anyone and multiple roles are available.  Come on down and try out for a part!

♫ The Scott Willcox Ten-piece Band

Friday 20 September 2019
7:30pm - 10:00pm 
£17.00 (£15.00 concessions)

Scott Willcox

  • Scott Willcox leading
  • Gabriel Garrick, Andy Gibson trumpets
  • Martin Gladdish trombone
  • Chris Biscoe, Bob McKay, Julian Costello, Pete Hurt saxophones
  • Dave Frankel keyboard
  • Andy Cleyndert bass
  • Gary Willcox drums

Scott Willcox makes a welcome return to Jazz at Progress with his Ten-Piece Big Band comprising an all-star line-up of outstanding players, many of whom will be familiar to Progress audiences.

Scott, a classically trained composer and Fellow of Trinity College of Music, is a real power of musical and dramatic expression.  His writing is subtly arranged, rich in musical colour, full of vibrant, sometimes startling rhythms and changing time-signatures, and often deeply moving.

In his 3-star Jazz Journal review of the band’s recent album ‘All Change’, which features several tracks with star vocalist Georgia Mancio, John Adcock wrote, ‘The opener ‘Bouncing Back’ is in 5/4, but sounds nothing like ‘Take Five’, showing what an imaginative arranger can do with any material’.

Writing in Cross Rhythms Lins Honeyman commented, ‘Willcox and his band are at their best when pushing the experimental boat out and the likes of the driving ‘Can’t Complain’ – featuring an impressive recording debut from Gabriel Garrick on trombone – and the fascinatingly abstract ‘Mixed Feelings’ highlight the band’s sheer talent and willingness to take a chance musically … a captivating offering from Mr Willcox and his talented associates.’

Challenging, highly original, a sheer joy … a big band experience with a difference, Scott’s music has been likened to a meeting between Stravinsky and George Russell.

Andrew Cartmel, author of the hilarious and enthralling ‘Vinyl Detective’ series of novels described the band as being ‘reminiscent of a skilful Mingus traffic jam’. Enjoy!

The Children

by Lucy Kirkwood

The Children

7-12 October 2019

Performances at 7.45pm, doors open 7.15pm

Hazel and Robin, two retired nuclear scientists in their sixties, are living in their isolated cottage on the coast, in the wake of a disaster at the local power station where they used to work. Then an old friend, Rose, arrives with a frightening request.

A powerful play from the writer of Chimerica, exploring the responsibilities we have to future generations.

2018 Best Play, Writers' Guild Awards



Rose - Melanie Sherwood
Hazel - Liz Paulo
Robin - Peter O’Sullivan

Directed by Ali Carroll


by Martin McDonagh


8-16 November 2019

Performances at 7.45pm, doors open at 7.15pm


"I'm just as good as bloody Pierrepoint."

In his small pub in Oldham, Harry Wade is something of a local celebrity. But what's the second-best hangman in England to do on the day they've abolished hanging? Amongst the cub reporters and sycophantic pub regulars, dying to hear Harry's reaction to the news, a peculiar stranger lurks, with a very different motive for his visit.

A brilliant black comedy set in 60’s Lancashire – Hangmen is fast-paced, side- splittingly funny and with a gripping tension that is relentless until the end.

2016 Olivier Award - Best New Play

2015 Critics' Circle Award - Best New Play


  • Harry - Anthony Travis
  • Alice - Emma Sterry
  • Shirley - Sophie Maybury
  • Syd - Adam Wells
  • Mooney - Owen Goode
  • Hennessy - Rory Aldington
  • Bill - Gareth Saunders
  • Charlie - John Goodman
  • Arthur - Chris Pett
  • Clegg - Rory Aldington
  • Pierrepoint - Mark Taylor
  • Inspector Fry - Peter Chamberlain

Directed by Steph Dewar

Past events


Past shows at Progress Theatre - Past Seasons





  • Wolves - December
  • 11th Annual WriteFest - November
  • Dracula - October  
  • The Long and the  Short and the Tall - September
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream - July - Caversham Court Gardens
  • Daisy Pulls it Off - July - Progress Youth Theatre
  • Humble Boy - June
  • Suddenly Last Summer - May
  • Stones In His Pockets -  April
  • Marat/Sade - March
  • Steel Magnolias - February
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - January


    • The Hidden Truth - December - Progress Youth Theatre
    • Brontë - November
    • The 10th Annual Writefest - October
    • Two-Way Mirror - September
    • The Merry Wives of Windsor - July - at Caversham Court Gardens 
    • Gormenghast - July - Progress Youth Theatre
    • The Weir - June
    • Talking Heads - April
    • Animal Farm - March
    • Gaslight - February
    • The Three Musketeers - January


    • Mojo - December - Progress Youth Theatre
    • Noises Off - November
    • The 9th Annual WriteFest - October
    • Darwin and Fitzroy - September
    • Love's Labour's Lost… And Won - July - at Caversham Court Gardens 
    • The Roses of Eyam - July - Progress Youth Theatre
    • God of Carnage - June
    • Not About Heroes - May
    • Lady Windermere's Fan - April
    • Trainspotting - March
    • Bold Girls - February
    • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - January


    Past Seasons...