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Ovalhouse and Stan's Cafe

The Anatomy of Melancholy by Stan’s Cafe

Stan’s Cafe’s playful and witty show is a guided tour through one of the most extraordinary works of English literature.

  • Wheelchair Access
  • Tue 26 Nov – Sat 30 Nov, 7:45pm

Venue: Downstairs

The Anatomy of Melancholy has been described as “the greatest book ever written”. Nearly 400 years old, it is a vast (1500 page) attempt to identify the causes, symptoms and cures for all kinds of melancholy. Written by vicar and librarian Robert Burton it contains all the wisdom of its age – arcane, outlandish and hilarious. Yet, amidst all the wild stories and suppositions, much of its advice remains as urgent and profound now as it did then.

It’s 1638, and in his study the vicar is rehearsing a stage adaptation of his best-selling self-help manual. It's proving difficult - the book is 1500 pages long, full of cutting edge science, maids vomiting pebbles, priests defecating in ditches, lovers unrequited, friends who can’t be parted, plus enormous expansive long lists of every, food, herb, location, activity or occupation that can bring on or cure melancholy in any one of its many forms. Where should he start? How can he possibly finish?

The time has come for Stan’s Cafe to bring the world’s most extraordinary self-help manual to the stage.


"There is probably no more exciting company working in the UK today" Lyn Gardner, The Guardian.


"A company of real artistic innovators who always have new things to say and new ways of saying them..  There is probably no more exciting company working in the UK today."

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
  • Tue 26 Nov – Sat 30 Nov, 7:45pm

James Yarker – Director
Craig Stephens – Deviser/Performer
Gerard Bell – Deviser/Performer
Rochi Rampal – Deviser/Performer
Graeme Rose – Deviser/Performer

Stan’s Cafe has been making groundbreaking theatre and performance work since 1991, and established a formidable national and international reputation. In recent years it has built a mixed portfolio of work that challenges art-form boundaries and prompts people to experience their world in new ways. By combining rigorous formal experimentation with playful and engaging content, the company’s work gains strong popular appeal, whilst retaining leading edge artistic values.

Additional information

Supported by The Wellcome Trust, Warwick Arts Centre and RSC. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Photo Credit: Graeme Braidwood

Click an image to view a larger version.

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