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Pub landlord to appear in play as himself at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre

A pub landlord is to appear at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre playing himself - with his own bar recreated on stage.

Innovative play Stacked! stars members of the community and is loosely based on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

The plot follows a group of strangers caught in traffic jams caused by Operation Stack.

Chris Smith, Landlord of the Canterbury Tales in The Friars, Canterbury Chris who is to appear in a Marlowe Thatre play as himself. Picture: Chris Davey
Chris Smith, Landlord of the Canterbury Tales in The Friars, Canterbury Chris who is to appear in a Marlowe Thatre play as himself. Picture: Chris Davey

One by one they find themselves in city centre pub the Canterbury Tales – faithfully recreated on the Marlowe stage by set designers.

"I’m not an actor, I’m a publican. But if they’re going to build my bar on stage and have someone run it, how can I not do it?"

Landlord Chris Smith will play himself on stage, as the strangers tell their various tales in his bar.

Mr Smith said: “I’m not an actor, I’m a publican. But if they’re going to build my bar on stage and have someone run it, how can I not do it?”

The Canterbury Tales, on The Friars, sits directly opposite the Marlowe entrance and is frequented by theatre-goers.

“The theatre has been so important to my pub as a business,” he said.

“A couple of years ago I took part in one of the Marlowe’s community theatre projects.

“I got a glimpse of how it operates. Doing this allows me to give something back.”

Stacked! is directed by Andy Dawson, the Marlowe’s head of creative projects.

It is produced by the Marlowe People’s Company and the Marlowe Youth Theatre.

Mr Dawson said: “The play features around 250 people aged from seven to 80. These are all ordinary members of the public who have got involved in our community theatre.

“Everyone gets a part. It’s a real mix. The majority are from the Canterbury area, but we have voices from Romania, from Eritrea, from Albania.

Chris Smith learns his lines. Picture: Chris Davey
Chris Smith learns his lines. Picture: Chris Davey

Stacked!, which plays on July 13 and 14, will see various strangers including a lorry driver, an evacuee, a barmaid and some nuns, tell their tales to the audience.

Some tales involved the harrowing journey made by migrants from war-torn nations, desperate for safety.

Others are more light-hearted.

Mr Dawson said: “It’s a rich tapestry. It’s trying to give a number of different perspectives. This production is about the community coming together to do something creative.”

The cast is supported by the Marlowe’s professional team, including set-builders, wardrobe and technicians.

Stacked! is at The Marlowe Theatre at 7pm on Wednesday July 13 and 14.

Tickets, £14, (with discounts available and a booking fee applies), are from the box office on 01227 787787 or marlowetheatre.com.


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