COVID-19 impact: Local theatre group left in 'perilous' position after cast members test positive

  • Watch the full report by ITV Meridian's Mel Bloor (Interviewee: Toby Davies, Rabble Theatre's Artistic Director)

A theatre company in Reading says it fears for its future after it was forced to cancel its latest production due to a Covid outbreak amongst the cast.

Rabble Theatre was midway through its performance of Who Killed Alfred Oliver? which was due to run until 20th November.

The company took to social media last night to announce two members of the cast have tested positive for Covid-19.

A spokesperson said: "It is with a heavy heart that we must let you know that we have had to cancel our production of Who Killed Alfred Oliver?

"The reason for this is that two key members of the company have received positive PCR tests.

"We have assessed whether we can replace the poorly members, but the costs incurred, plus the risk of further infection among the remaining company, negate this option."

Rabble Theatre does not receive any core funding, from Reading Borough Council or the Arts Council, so its financial success is dependent on ticket sales alone.

The play was Rabble Theatre's first indoor production since the beginning of the pandemic and was based on the unsolved murder of tobacconist Alfred Oliver in Reading in 1929.

61-year-old Mr Oliver was found lying unconscious on the floor in his shop in Cross Street, where Marks & Spencer now stands in the town centre.

He had suffered brutal head injuries and died the following day.

There was no obvious suspect or motive for the crime.

Tobacconist Alfred Oliver was murdered in Cross Street in 1929 Credit: Reading Library Service

Rabble Theatre is looking at the option of postponing the show until next year, but it says nothing more can be said at this stage.

Anyone who has already purchased tickets is entitled to a refund but the company is asking people to consider donating the cost of the ticket instead.

More information can be found on Rabble Theatre's website here.