• Duration: 2 hours approx.
  • Tickets: £10


Oxford’s new-writing night: watch a rehearsed reading of a brand new play, curated by John Retallack.

Each script is brought to life by a cast of professional actors.

New writing is precarious in the current climate, and we are thrilled to support emerging artists with staged play readings. Join us for regular nights of great theatre, by outstanding up-and-coming playwrights. We can’t wait.


by Jo Watt

When Christopher Taft, a 52-year-old pharmaceutical scientist, loses his wife to motor neurone disease, he has to recalibrate his relationship with his teenage daughter.

As if that wasn’t hard enough, he has to learn to love again.

CHEMISTRY is a funny, feisty, family drama about moving on.

After a career in drama education, Jo has been a member of the Oxford Playwriting Course since 2018. CHEMISTRY is her fourth play.

About John Retallack

From 2013 John was Head of Writing for Performance at Ruskin College in Oxford where he produced RUSKIN PLATFORMS, live readings of contemporary plays, from 2013-2017.

He currently runs his own highly successful playwriting course in Oxford: www.oxfordplaywriting.co.uk.

He was Artistic Director of Oxford Stage Company at The Oxford Playhouse (1989 – 99). He has written over twenty plays and adaptations for theatre and for radio. Amongst other nominations and awards, he has won an Olivier, two coveted TMA/SWET awards, two Herald Angels and one Fringe First.


JENNIFER – Emma Keele
Emma trained at LAMDA and Stella Adler Studio (NY).
Theatre credits include: Noughts and Crosses (UK tour) Monster (Park), East is East (B’ham Rep & NT), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (NT – International Tour), Abigail’s Party (Theatre Royal Bath & UK Tour) The End of the Line (Southwold Summer Rep), The Borrowers (Polka), Yen (Gothenburg English Studio), Phaedra’s Love (Arcola)
TV and film credits include: The Suspect (ITV), Emmerdale (recurring role, ITV), Silent Witness (BBC), Coronation Street (ITV), Downton Abbey (ITV), Doctors (BBC), New Tricks (BBC), 22. Anna Matthews (Short, Best Actress Award at OIFF 2021)

CHRIS – Paul Ansdell
Paul lives in Oxford and has been an actor for over 30 years, working in theatre, television, film and radio. He has narrated numerous audio books, including The Hummingbird by Sandro Veronesi which was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on New Year’s Day, 2023. He has worked on many of John Retallack’s playwrights’ new works, and is delighted to be a part of this rehearsed reading of Jo Watt’s Chemistry.

LEAH – Katie Friedli Walton
British-Swiss actor and writer Katie Friedli Walton graduated from University of Oxford in 2021 with a first-class BA in English Literature and Language.
Having trained with the RADA Youth Company, her credits include Jo March in Little Women (OVO), BAFTA-nominated short Dolápò is Fine (Disney+), The Hummingbird (BBC Radio 3), Shadows of Troy (Oxford Playhouse), Wait till the End (The Pappy Show), The Red Shoes (Pleasance), Abandon (Lyric Hammersmith), and The Winter’s Tale (RADA).

STELLA – Christina Kowalchuk
Christina Kowalchuk is an actor, singer-songwriter, and educator. She provides voice-over for adverts, cartoons, video games, films, and more. A long-time American transplant, her previous stage performances include a turn in the Vagina Monologues at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California. Christina leads writing and art workshops, and also works as an expert simulated patient for University of Oxford’s medical school.

MOLLY – Claire Harris
Claire is an actor who has Down’s syndrome. She graduated from the Access All Areas (AAA) Performance Making Diploma at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2021. Claire is an Associate Artist with AAA. Claire studied at Orpheus College and works there as a Life Skills technician. She combines this with ongoing projects with AAA and local amdram opportunities.
Molly is Claire’s first professional role and she is delighted to be working in Oxford.

Parking & Access


There are a number of Blue Badge parking spaces nearby on Beaumont Street, and more on New Inn Hall Street and St Giles.

The closest car park is Gloucester Green Car Park, accessed via Gloucester Street.

If you have any questions or concerns, the City Council’s Access Officer can be reached at 01865 249811.

Getting here

We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint, but we need your help. Use ecoway, our sustainable travel planner, to see the most eco-friendly options for your journey to Old Fire Station, and plan a bespoke and flexible route. ecoway is easy to use and you’ll be kept up to date with any disruption or changes to your journey plan.

Car parks in Oxford Blue Badge information Public transport in Oxford


Disabled patrons are eligible for one free companion ticket with their booking. To book this, contact the ticket office: tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk or 01865 263990.

There are two entrances to the Old Fire Station: 40 George Street via the foyer, and on Gloucester Green via the shop. Both are step-free. If you are coming to a show, we ask that you use the George Street entrance, as the Gloucester Green entrance is not always open.

Events in the Theatre

There is level entry to the foyer of the Old Fire Station, and step-free access to the main Theatre (where most shows take place).

If you are a wheelchair user attending a sit-down show, space will be reserved for you. If you are attending a standing gig, please contact us (call the ticket office on 01865 263990 or e-mail tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk) and we will talk with you about your needs.

Events in the Studio

There is level entry into the foyer of the Old Fire Station, and step-free access to the Studio.

Events in the Loft

There are six steps leading up to the Loft space, with no lift. If you would like to discuss this to find out more, please get in touch.

The Gallery

There is step-free access to the Gallery – level entry through the George Street entrance, and via lift from the Gloucester Green entrance.


Accessible toilet
There is an accessible toilet on the ground floor, accessible via platform lift. Other toilets are in the basement (accessible via lift).

Hearing assistance system
The Theatre is equipped with a hearing assistance system. If you have any questions about using it, please e-mail us at tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk or phone 01865 263980.

Assistance dogs
All types of assistance and guide dogs are welcome at the Old Fire Station. It would be great if you could let us know in advance if you will be bringing a working dog to any performances – just e-mail tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk.

Strobe lighting
We will warn visitors on the website and in the foyer of the venue if a performance is going to contain strobe lighting. If lighting affects you, and you have any concerns, please call the ticket office on 01865 263990 or e-mail tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk.

Chairs in the theatre
Our chairs are a standard dining-chair size, measuring 40cm deep by 37cm wide, with a metal frame. Some have arms, and some do not. They are all joined together at the sides, to form rows. If this is likely to pose a problem for you, please email tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk and we can discuss how to make your visit more comfortable.