Art is partly echoing reality at the Maddermarket Theatre as real-life married couple Peter and Amanda Howell take to the stage to play a husband and wife in the Norwich Players latest show.

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There are a few differences though, particularly as Mr Howell is playing a character who comes back to speak to his wife from beyond the grave in the Alan Ayckbourn comedy Life and Beth.

The show, which is directed by Jude Wyatt, opens tomorrow night and sees Mr and Mrs Howell, who live in Ludham and have been married for 22 years, play the roles of Beth and Gordon Timms. In the show, Mr Timms, a health and safety officer from the local engineering works, has recently died and the plot explores the reactions of his family.

“We have actually played a couple before, but he’s never been dead before! It’s quite strange seeing Peter all in white and quite spectral,” joked Mrs Howell, a 54-year-old sales administration manager.

“The character Peter plays in the show is really quite oppressive and although Beth is sad he has died she is really rather relieved.”

Mrs Howell added: “The play itself is actually very funny but in a way it’s quite moving and makes you think. Ayckbourn is a master of that.”

Mr Howell, a 60-year-old lawyer, said the show had all the right ingredients for an evening of summer entertainment.

“It’s a very funny play, very amusing, with some good lines and funny situations,” he said.

“ A recently widowed wife is coming to terms with the death of her husband, but when he appears to her as a ghost she realises she doesn’t want him back!”

• Life and Beth is at the Maddermarket Theatre, in Norwich, from tomorrow until August 2. Tickets £8-£12. Visit www.maddermarket.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 620917.

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