A MORE “intimate” theatre experience awaits audiences at Salisbury Playhouse following the transformation of its main stage.

Wiltshire Creative productions of Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy Relatively Speaking and Hugh Whitemore’s Alan Turing drama Breaking the Code will be performed “in-the-round” - bringing the audience closer to the action.

In-the-round is when the stage is set up in the centre of the floor in the middle of the arena.

John Titcombe, the director of production, has been working with a team to change the layout. Last week the set was being installed ready for the opening of Relatively Speaking, which started its run yesterday.

John says: “We have had plenty of time but it is very labour intensive.”

As part of the process the first four rows of seats in the Main House have been taken out to make way for the stage.

“It gives you quite a big stage which can be good and can be bad,” admits John. “For some shows it is really lovely for the actors to be surrounded and I think it is quite challenging as well. It gives the audience and actors a different dynamic and a very intimate feel.”

Luckily for John, there were detailed plans to work from when the auditorium was reconfigured four years ago, which helped with the process.

The layout was previously used for productions of Separate Tables and Bedroom Farce in autumn 2014.

Speaking of the challenges of such an undertaking, he said: “It is one thing building a stage where there is not normally one but then the whole infrastructure of the building isn’t quite right.”

The lighting and sound systems have had to be moved and even hearing loops.

“I’ve always enjoyed making spaces into different spaces, which is part of the fun,” admits John. “It’s a nice thing to do and hopefully the audience will respond well.”

On the benefits of the new configurations, John explains: “We’re able to do bigger shows in a more intimate way.”

He says it creates a more intimate setting like what audience experience in The Salberg theatre space at the Playhouse.

Relatively Speaking runs until September 28 and Breaking the Code starts on October 5.