‘Strange what draws you back. A park in which you might have played. A boating lake. A secret fishing place where a boy still goes, where the river bends.

Want to perform or produce RETURN?

Read an extract from RETURN here


first performed by Natalie Ashburner, Harry Blumenau, Judy Brown, Ben Corre, Rebecca Crowley, Michael Deane, Richard Foord, Adrian McManus, Siobhan Manning, Will Marshall, Amanda Miller, Gemma Munro Collins, Laura Pugh, Rianne Stratford, Martin Sutch, Lily Thaddeus, Sam Varnham, Harry White and Charlotte Wright

(19 characters)

directed by James Williams
designed by Tom Scutt
lighting design by Dave Starmer
sound design by Francis Johnson
original song composed by Rebecca Applin

additional credits below

So what’s it all about?
(Programme Note from original production)

Puff the Magic Dragon is not a song about smoking marijuana. I read that on Wikipedia, but it appears to be true nevertheless. Or at least the song was never intended by its writers to be about anything but lost innocence. Writers can’t – and shouldn’t – control how audiences interpret our work, however.

After we first read through Return, Charlotte (who conveniently ended up playing Charlotte) asked, quite reasonably: ‘What’s it about?’ I did the irritating thing of saying ‘what do you all think?’ and was thrilled by the range and perceptiveness of the cast’s responses. The play was specifically written for them to perform, and I benefited a great deal from doing two weeks research on early thoughts for the play with James, the director, and Watford Palace Theatre’s own youth theatre groups.

There were lots of news stories while I was writing about how vile teenagers are: feral hooded packs destroying civilised life. That generalisation certainly doesn’t fit with the hours of voluntary hard work that have gone into making this piece of theatre, front and backstage, travelling to and from rehearsal many times a week on top of school and the rest of life. I’m very grateful to all those teenagers who’ve worked so hard on my script over the last few months.

Thanks to them, people who until a few weeks ago existed only in my head have now become flesh and blood, and you get to see and hear their story today. It may make you feel things: funny, sad, annoyed… It may trigger thoughts about the world in which the characters live, or the one you live in. Don’t worry if they’re the right ones – it’s not a play with a neat answer. Or at least, that wasn’t my intention.

And Puff the Magic Dragon? That’s in there a few times along with some other songs. I was also influenced by a great set of pictures by the artist Paula Rego called The Children’s Crusade. And the story of what happened when a medieval town had a visitor who promised to clear the place of rats…

fight director Ivor Benjamin
assistant director Dale Carpenter
stage manager Saira Baker
deputy stage manager Sarah Rhodes-Cannings
assistant stage managers Briony Gatler and Simone Murray
set construction Tip Pargeter, James Wetherby and Alan Gibbs
set assistant Mary Drummond
production manager Ali Fellows
resident stage manager James Oakley
electrics Richmond Rudd
stage Matt Ledbury and Simon Godfrey
wardrobe Kirstie Rowe and Jocelyn Creighton

Taskforce Backstage Crew Tanis Belsham-Wray, Courtney Boyd, Stephen Brown, Holly Curtis, Harriet Dobson, Ben Hantonne, Dana Harris, Amileigh Newson, Andrew Shortt, Kate Tidey and Grace Tindall

produced by Watford Palace Theatre and Hertfordshire County Youth Theatre at Watford Palace
for Active Kirstie Davis and Katie Silverton

image by Tom Scutt