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THE Stephen Joseph Theatre notches up a double-milestone with its latest premiere.

Neighbourhood Watch, which opened last night, is Alan Ayckbourn’s 75th play and the 300th new play to be commissioned by the Scarborough venue.

It will run at the SJT until October 15 before heading off to New York’s Brits Off Broadway festival, from November 30 to January 1.

The playwright describes it as a dark farce and a cautionary play, addressing law and order, and health and safety.

Neighbourhood Watch is the opening gambit in the SJT’s autumn, winter and spring season, which has just been announced.

The season features two return visits by Northern Broadsides. The Halifax company will present We Are Three Sisters, about the Brontës, from October 18-22 and Love’s Labour’s Lost from March 12-17.

A classic tale is given a confectionary twist in The Nutcracker Prince, from November 25 until December 16.

A new production of Noël Coward’s supernatural comedy Blithe Spirit runs from December 20 until January 7. Full of sparkling wit, Blithe Spirit is one of Coward’s most popular plays.

Local writer Roger Osborne, whose books include Civilization, The Floating Egg and The Deprat Affair, has ventured into drama after attending an adult writing class run by the SJT’s outreach department. The Art of Persuasion, which can be seen on October 28 and 29, is a tale of political intrigue.

The John Godber Company will take two plays to the SJT, both written and directed by the Hull dramatist. The first will be a combined production with Wakefield’s Theatre Royal. Running from November 14-19, The Debt Collectors is a new comedy mixing money and love with the love of money, as two out-of-work actors fall into the world of debt recovery. The second will be Weekend Breaks, from February 27 to March 3. Written in 1997, it is a comedy about culture clashes, love and the Lake District.

The Octagon Theatre in Bolton, the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Oldham Coliseum will team up to present Bill Naughton’s Alfie, set in the Swinging Sixties, from March 20-31.

The season features a range of visiting shows for one night. They include Phoenix Rising: DH Lawrence – Son & Lover on October 26; Penny Dreadful’s Etherdome on October 31; The Casablanca Steps on November 3; 1930s Songbook Supper with Holly Jazz Lowe on November 4; Call Mr Robeson – A Life on November 10; Young-Choon Park on November 11; Monkey Poet on November 22; Buddy Holly and the Cricketers on December 8; and Snake Davis on December 15.

Don’t miss your top guide to the entertainments scene in your Evening News every Wednesday.