A mystery man arrives in Buxton. But who is he? What does he want? And why does he look so familiar? Soon, the whole town is intrigued. Is he waiting for love? Or a bus? As the locals gather to gossip and guess, their own stories are revealed.
A warm, witty, and welcoming show about first love, second chances, lost dogs and finding a home, all based on local stories sourced from our own town. Everyone in Buxton has a unique story. Find out what really happens when love comes out to play.
Keeper of the Books writer Rob Young is here to answer your questions about this exciting new production.
What inspired the story behind Keeper of the Books?
“Our whole gang walked the streets, asking people for their stories. And the tales they told were terrific. For example, two young lovers with nowhere to go, would cuddle up to the bakery wall, warmed by the oven, and love. This wonderful image is typical of the modest, romantic, and profound stories that people kindly shared. All I did was knit them into a show. The play was born here, I’m just the midwife.”
Tell us about some of the other projects you have worked on as a playwright.
“I’ve written all sorts of things, from a gay play in a football stadium to a show on a full-size galleon, from a Radio 4 play (about a flirty mouse) to a Christina Ricci movie (Miranda). I’ve written a West End musical, a dance show, 12 plays, an installation in total darkness and an animation about pain. I created the first online play for Google, was a Lead Writer at BBC Online and had 100 of my poems built into the pavements of Kent (that won a National Planning Award).
I’m now writing a rom-com and a TV series that doesn’t have any words. I started writing after I got knocked over by a car, to pass the time while my bones grew back together. To my surprise, it took off and I went on to spent the next 20 years writing for the UK’s biggest film and theatre companies including the BBC, Channel 4, Sony, Aardman, Working Title Films, the RSC and National Theatre. For someone who flunked English at school, it’s gone pretty well, better than I’d expected. I left home with the ambition of owning a coloured telly, so everything since has been one long over achievement.”
How are rehearsals for the production going so far?
“It’s a happy show, so everyone’s cheery. I like it when the actors snigger. Means I’ve got it right.”
What can audiences expect from Keeper of the Books?
“A good night out (or ‘afternoon out’ if you come to the matinee). There’s a whiff of mystery, sprinkled with silly and a heady splash of romance, so once the giggles die down, you might just squeak out a tear.”
What was it about Buxton that encouraged you to return again to write a second bespoke play?
“Buxton Opera House is the town’s front room. The people who live there are a warm and welcoming family. They bust a gut to cheer us up. I love that, I love it and I love them.”
The cast for the play is made up from members of the community, how does this add to the story?
“It’s the best bit. At the audition, one girl said that her dream was to perform on stage, and thanks to this play, that dream has come true. How brilliant is that? I am proud to be part of that team.”
Do you have a favourite moment or role?
“The first laugh, when the warmth of the play gets an echo. Because humour doesn’t break the ice, it melts it. Laughter reassures the actors and reminds the audience that we’re all here to have a good time.”
You also wrote a bespoke play for Buxton Opera House in 2020 titled Deep. Can you tell us about the story behind this production.
“My last play was inspired by the little mermaid in Buxton Museum, a Victorian curio made of fish skin and human hair that has been scaring children for decades. As research, I visited haunted pools in the Peaks, interviewed ‘professional’ mermaids and swam with synchronised swimmers. The play was about a spirit who lives in the water. It was performed at Buxton Opera House, where a river runs directly under the stage. On a quiet day, you can hear it (the river, not the ghost).”
Keeper of the Books is based on true, local stories and people. Do you think this helps audiences to resonate with a production on a deeper level?
“Yes. It hasn’t been streamed from America, and no-one wears a cape. It may not have a billion-dollar budget, but in its own modest way, it is valid. One of the stories is about a woman, from Three Mills, who really, really wants a dog. You don’t get that on Netflix.”
Why should people come and see Keeper of the Books?
“It’s Buxton, on stage, in Buxton, performed by people from Buxton, so if you are from Buxton (or even Chapel-en-le-Frith), this is the show for you.” There wasn’t one person who we interviewed, that wasn’t worthy of love. That’s what we’re celebrating here. Us. It restores your faith in human nature. The news is grim, and people are struggling, so this play reminds you that there are still good bits too: people are kind, people recover, the price of bananas will go down (hopefully).
Arthur Ashe summed it up in a sentence, “Start where you are, use what you’ve got, do what you can”.
Hear from Director Kitty Randle
Keeper of the Books is on at Buxton Opera House on Saturday 27th January at 7pm and Sunday 28 January 3pm 2024.
Tickets are priced at £18
Discounts are available: Students/Children: £2 off
To buy tickets and for more information call the Box Office on 01298 72190 or visit buxtonoperahouse.org.uk/event/keeper-of-the-books-a-buxton-love-story
Buxton Opera House, Water Street, Buxton, SK17 6XN
T: 01298 72190