Watch David Walliams’ Ratburger in Jesmond Dene


Later this year Heartbreak Productions will mount the first stage adaptation of Ratburger, a novel by comedian David Walliams. The play will visit Jesmond Dene over the weekend of 15th–17th July.

Ratburger tells the story of a young girl desperate to break away from her horrible mother, and set upon by a sinister neighbour who is determined to have her pet rat for his burger-shop.

Chief Executive of Heartbreak Productions Maddy Kerr said:

“We are thrilled that David Walliams has agreed for us to tour the theatrical premiere of “Ratburger” for 2016; it’s a fitting tribute to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Heartbreak’s and we hope that first time audiences from “Mr Stink” will return for another exhilarating experience of Walliams’ mischievous humour and uplifting storytelling.”

Heartbreak will also tour with Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Murder on the Terrace, an interactive murder mystery. Do not expect traditional staging of these classics, however, as Heartbreak’s signature style is to frame traditional pieces in alternative settings. The Tempest, for example, will be set at a pagan stone circle, and performed by modern-day druids, connecting Britain’s ancient traditions with the themes of the play. The Importance will be moved forward to the eve of the Great Depression, highlighting Wilde’s social satire by juxtaposing the trivialities rendered significant with the significant reduced to the trivial. Murder on the Terrace is an original work written by Heartbreak stalwart David Kendall-Kirby. It is an interactive murder mystery, perfect for light-hearted summer evening entertainment.

In a bid to make the production more accessible to all, Heartbreak Productions are providing a BSL interpreter for the Saturday matinee performance on 16th July at 2pm.

Theatre productions in the Dene, July & August

Heartbreak Productions will be performing in Jesmond Dene from Thursday 19th July through to Sunday 5th August. There will be three productions: William Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing, Edith Nesbit’s plucky drama The Railway Children, and Noël Coward’s comedy of manners Private Lives.

Times and costs can be found on the Heartbreak website.

New visitor centre & Ouseburn bridge officially opened today

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The recently completed visitor centre at Jesmond Dene, designed by local architects Mosedale Gillatt, was officially opened today. A plaque unveiling was carried out by Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North-East.

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Eco-friendly features of the elegant new building include a sedum roof, a rainwater-collection tank supplying water to the toilets, a super-efficient heating system and a recycling area. Sensitive use of materials, such as Siberian larch – which weathers to a bleached grey – and the understated character of the building combine to create a pleasing harmony with the natural surroundings.

The glass-fronted building provides information and displays about the history and natural history of Jesmond Dene. Incorporating the existing buildings of Millfield House, the site includes a classroom, a new café, outdoor terraced seating area, and improved disabled access.

The visitor ventre, footbridge and buildings in Pets’ Corner have been shortlisted for the RICS renaissance awards in the following two categories, Tourism and Leisure and Regeneration under the title Contemporary Structures in Ouseburn Parks. The winner will be announced in mid-April.

The visitor centre, and the rest of the Ouseburn Parks project, was majority-funded by a National Lottery Fund grant.

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Also officially opened today was the new Ouseburn bridge, a steel pedestrian bridge across the Ouseburn, passing underneath (and at 90 degrees to) the existing Armstrong Bridge.

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Pets’ corner opened in time for half term week and thousands of visitors have seen the new collection of animals.

Jesmond dene children's play area plans

A new children’s play area near Millfield House will be completed by Easter.

Other improvements taking place now include landscaping around the ruin of Adam’s Camera. This has now been cleared of trees and is visible from Heaton Road. A curvy path will be installed to give access to the scenic ruin.

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All these developments would have no doubt been welcomed by Sir William and Lady Armstrong, who in 1883 gave more than 80 acres of Jesmond Dene to the people of Newcastle in perpetuity. The Armstrongs had lived in the dene since their marriage in 1835 and built themselves a house there.

As the years went by, the Armstrongs acquired more and more land in the dene and landscaped it to reflect their ideal of a wild rural setting.

More Jesmond Dene pix here.

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Jesmond Dene spring nearly sprung