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View from the stalls has shows for every taste

09:00 27 September 2014

Theatre feat pix 25/9/14

Theatre feat pix 25/9/14

Archant

Comedies in the past, present and future. historical drama to Noel Coward, George Bernard Shaw and Shakespeare for younger audiences. This week sees a diverse selection on our stages. SIMON PARKIN highlights what see from the stalls.

Theatre feat pix 25/9/14Theatre feat pix 25/9/14

Arms and the Man

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, September 25-October 4, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Oct 4, £12-£8, 01603 620917, www.maddermarket.co.uk
Raina is set to marry a dashing cavalry officer Sergi, in George Bernard Shaw’s romantic comedy, the latest production at Norwich’s Maddermarket Theatre. Her world order is overturned when she encounters an enemy soldier, who prefers chocolate to cartridges. Her concepts of war and heroism, love and marriage are about to be challenged. Lucinda Bray, who is directing the production, said: “As the director I can tell you I was in love with the play by the end of the first page of stage directions, rich in colour and tone. We generally ignore the stage directions. Directors and designers don’t like the voices from history echoing onto the stage, limiting our imaginations. I found the play, originally written for a naturalistic set, filled my imagination. So, this production is the result of my imagination and those of my collaborators. The production will bring a new edge to a beautiful romantic comedy, written with an edge of warning to the world of the folly of war.”

Never Too Old

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, until September 27, 8pm, 2pm Sept 24, 3pm Sept 27, 01284 769505, www.theatreroyal.org
Enchanting one-act play comes direct to the Bury Theatre Royal from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, prior to a UK tour. You’re Never Too Old introduces us to two people in the autumn of their years, Ada (Ruth Madoc) and Tommy (Ian Lavender), who meet on a park bench. They fall into conversation and as they chat we learn a little about them and the story that emerges is sad, funny and bitter sweet. Director Danusia Iwaszko, who hails from Bury, said: “Ian and Ruth worked incredibly hard to get it just right. They both have a star quality which shines on stage and they play off the script and one another.”

Beauty’s Legacy

Diss Corn Hall, September 25, 7.30pm, £8 (£5 cons), 01379 652241, www.disscornhall.co.uk/Fakenham Community Centre, September 26, 7.30pm, £10 (£9 cons), 01328 855172
This sci-fi comedy/drama, a futuristic version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein meets Bladerunner, is the first show East Anglian theatre company Keeper’s Daughter has taken outside the region; but catch it here back on home soil in Diss and Fakenham. Revered geneticist Victor discovers the potential to eradicate all disease, ugliness and unhappiness. But when the science council threaten to close him down, his maladjusted lab assistant becomes his guinea pig. The production utilizes clown, chorus, puppetry, electronic music, movement and improvisation in order to connect a youthful and varied audience to this vital theme. With slapstick comedy, spoken word and choruses thrown in for good measure, plus an electronic soundtrack by the Brighton-based synthpop band Mirrors, its good fun. 

The Bricks of Burston

Theatre feat pix 25/9/14Theatre feat pix 25/9/14

UEA Drama Studio, Norwich, September 26, 7pm, £10 (£9 cons), £6 student, 01603 508050, www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk/Sedgeford Village Hall, September 27, 7.30pm, £12, 01485570097, www.stuffofdreamstheatre.com
Amidst the turmoil of the outbreak of the First World War, 1914 also marked the start of an important social justice struggle that began in a quiet rural village in south Norfolk. At the heart of this history is the remarkable story of the boycott of the Council School in Burston in support of sacked teachers. Their struggle lasted for over 25 years and has earned its place in history as the longest lasting industrial strike in British history. The anniversary has been marked by this play by local theatre company Stuff of Dreams, being staged again this week. It focuses on the couple at the heart of the strike Tom and Annie Higdon and is a powerful and touching piece of theatre explores memory, remembrance, relationships and change. It will also be at Metfield Village Hall on October 11.

To Kill A Mockingbird

Norwich Theatre Royal, until September 27, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Sept 27, £21-£5.50, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk
This stage play of Harper Lee’s classic, which revisits the book in an original way, enjoyed critical acclaim and sell-out audiences in its first 2013 season at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. After another spell back in the park this summer, the new cast arrives in Norwich. While there is much about To Kill A Mockingbird that is warm and humorous, it confronts harrowing issues which are still highly relevant today, more than 50 years after the novel was published, dealing with the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman in a small-town community. The accused is defended by Atticus and the story is told by his feisty daughter Scout, now an adult looking back through the eyes of her younger self.

The Bridge That Tom Built

Guildhall, King’s Lynn, September 25, 7.30pm, £12 (£10 cons), 01553 764864, www.kingslynnarts.co.uk/Sheringham Little Theatre, September 26, 7.30pm, £10, £5 under-25s/students, 01263 822347, www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com 
Belt Up’s Dominic Allen brings back Thomas Paine from the dead in this solo show to tell his story that goes from Norfolk streets to an American battlefield. Acclaimed at the Edinburgh Festival, it’s a vivid and lively piece about the life of the American Founding Father, French Revolutionary and native of Norfolk. Praised as a masterclass in the kind of storytelling performance, the Flanagan Collective’s production is narrated by the man himself, details his entire life from his poor relationship with his father to the American battlefield, from London pub to Parisian jail, from ship to shore in a remarkable historical adventure. The words weave the historical facts, characters and even some historical speeches, the show is nothing if not perfectly researched. 

Propeller’s Pocket Dream

Sheringham Little Theatre, September 29, 1.30pm, £12, £7.50 students, 01263 822347, sheringhamlittletheatre.com/Norwich Playhouse, September 29, 7.30pm, £12 (£10 cons), 01603 598598, norwichplayhouse.co.uk/St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth, October 1, 1.30pm/7.30pm, £10 (£8 cons), £7.50 students, 01493 331484, stgeorgestheatre.com
Edward Hall’s all-male Shakespeare company Propeller have won a strong following with their rigorous approach to the Bard’s text combined with productions full of clarity, poetry, speed and imagination. Just as popular, is Pocket Dream, in which they stage 60-minute versions especially devised for young audiences. The latest sees a revised staging of their acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, being staged in Sheringham, Norwich and Great Yarmouth. The ensemble encourages audience to join in with a lively discussion afterwards. 

That Is All You Need To Know

Norwich Playhouse, September 27, 7.30pm, £10 (£8 cons), £7 student, 01603 598598, www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk
Award-nominated Idle Motion, one of the country’s best visual theatre companies, tells the untold stories of Bletchley Park and the extraordinary genius Alan Turing. During the Second World War, the grounds of Bletchley housed some of Britain’s greatest minds. Alongside Turing and Gordon Welchman, thousands of gifted men and women lived and worked together in this eccentric country house. This piece blends personal testimony and multi-media technology to celebrate humanity’s determination to crack the impossible code and save thousands of lives in war.

On The Piste

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, September 30-October 4, 7.30pm, 2pm Oct 1/3pm Oct 4, £26-£8.50, 01284 769505, www.theatreroyal.org
John Godber’s raunchy snowbound comedy about two British couples in ill-advised designer romper suits and fluffy earmuffs, showing everyone else how to do it on and off the slopes is updated in this revival in Bury as part of a seven-theatre tour, is both. Much changed from the 1990 original, this version even loses a character, Melissa. Ski instructors Tony, Isobel, Michelle and Marie take us on the piste in Chamonix. From first timers to Brits abroad, Dave, Bev, Chris and Alison take to the slopes and the sauna as the ski novices try to impress. Throw in a sexy sun-tanned ski instructor who is well known for his downhill skills and you’re guaranteed an avalanche of laugher and disasters. The farce-on-skis remains as fresh as newly fallen snow and in this new version the laughs fall thick and fast.

Hay Fever

Cambridge Arts Theatre, St Edward’s Passage, Cambridge, September 29-October 4, 7.45pm, 2.30pm Oct 2/4, £35-£15, 01223 503333, www.cambridgeartstheatre.com
Felicity Kendal and Simon Shepherd star in Noël Coward’s comedy of bad manners which has been a favourite amongst theatregoers ever since it first dazzled London’s West End in 1925. The Bliss family – recently-retired Judith, the once glittering star of the London stage; David, an egocentric novelist; and Sorel and Simon, their two Bohemian adult children – are incapable of sharing the spotlight. Unconventional, risqué, and often downright rude, they are everything a respectable English family should not be. When each member of the family invites a guest to their rural retreat, the unassuming visitors are thrown into a living melodrama of secret seductions and scandalous revelations.

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