Premiere at two Leeds venues for play by a newsman

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Two arts venues in Leeds are set to host the world premiere of an award-winning play by a former Yorkshire journalist.

Michael Davies, who was a subeditor on the Scarborough News and writes reviews for publications in the West End, has teamed up with a Leeds-based production company Encore Drama to stage his critically acclaimed play Rasputin’s Mother.

The professional theatre critic scooped an award for his debut script in the National Playwriting Competition last year.

Rasputin’s Mother, which offers a new perspective on the mysterious character of Rasputin, will be performed at Ilkley Playhouse and Seven Arts, in Chapel Allerton, next month. The drama takes an alternative “fantasy” look at the infamous Mad Monk, whose sinister charisma cast a shadow over the final days of the monarchy in pre-Communist Russia.

Mr Davies said: “Rasputin’s Mother has been something of a labour of love, developed over a number of years.

“The original idea came out of our endless fascination with so-called ‘monsters’ like Rasputin - I wanted to try to work out what made them tick.

“Fortunately, I’ve had some fantastic encouragement along the way from the likes of Alan Ayckbourn and Derek Jacobi, and to see the show finally in production is the ultimate prize for a playwright.”

Mr Davies said that winning the award also helped to boost his confidence.

He added: “Winning the national playwriting competition has been a huge boost not only to my confidence but also to my career.

“It can be difficult when you’re writing in isolation to gauge whether what you’re working on is actually any good, so to have the independent judges pick out your play for production is, of course, extremely rewarding.

Performances of Rasputin’s Mother will be at Ilkley Playhouse, on March 1 and 2, and Seven Arts on March 8 and 9. For more information visit www.ilkleyplayhouse.co.uk or www.sevenleeds.co.uk.