Six of the Best: Cultural highlights not to miss this week

Pygmalion starring Jane Lambert (Mrs Eynsford-Hill) Alistair McGowan (Higgins) Anna O'Grady (Clara Eynsford-Hill. Photo: Manuel Harlan Pygmalion starring Jane Lambert (Mrs Eynsford-Hill) Alistair McGowan (Higgins) Anna O'Grady (Clara Eynsford-Hill. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Monday, June 16, 2014
10:10 AM

Alistair McGowan returns to the stage for a second bite at the role of Professor Henry Higgins in Pygmalion, singer/songwriter Catherine Feeny, who had a spell living in Norwich, returns with new collaborator drummer/percussionist Chris Johnedis, Ballet Theatre UK’s bring their re-telling of The Little Mermaid and The Bard goes bite-sized again with the Reduced Shakespeare Company. SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this week.

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THEATRE

Pygmalion

Norwich Theatre Royal, June 16-21, 7.30pm, 2.30pm June 21, £27-£6.50, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Alistair McGowan, the man of many voices, returns to the stage for a second bite at the theatrical cherry which is the role of Professor Henry Higgins in Pygmalion, Shaw’s evergreen comedy about class and society, which comes to Norwich Theatre Royal in a production that also stars Rula Lenska as Mrs Higgins and Jamie Foreman as Alfred Doolittle. Pygmalion is perhaps better known to the wider public as the source of Lerner and Loewe’s musical masterpiece My Fair Lady. The 1956 Broadway production was enormously successful and the 1964 film version added to its impact. The aristocratic and pompous Prof Higgins makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering that he can transform the manners and speech of Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle and pass her off as a society lady.

MUSIC

Catherine Feeny & Chris Johnedis

Norwich Arts Centre, June 16, 8pm, £8, 01603 660352, www.norwichartscentre.co.uk

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Catherine Feeny, who had a spell living in Norwich but who now lives in Portland, Orgeon, and accomplished drummer/percussionist Chris Johnedis have recently completed a collaborative album. Experimenting with the intersection of classic songwriting and exhilarating polyryhthms, the duo have created a sound that is spare, yet playful, propulsive and painterly. They recorded the album entirely live, made only of sounds we two can produce – heart, soul and very little studio trickery – harkening back to the days of classic Blue Note recordings.

FAMILY SHOW

The Little Mermaid

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, June 16-18, 7.30pm, 2.30pm June 16/18, £25-£8.50, 01284 769505, www.theatreroyal.org

Ballet Theatre UK’s dramatic re-telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s story of a mermaid who falls in love with a human Prince and gives up everything to win his love. The kind hearted Little Mermaid rescues the Prince during a storm at sea, and begins a journey that takes her far from her home beneath the waves. Determined to pursue her love on to the shore she makes a bargain with an evil Sea Witch, but it comes at a heavy price. A charming and poignant ballet exploring the nature of longing, how choices have lasting consequences and how goodness can be rewarded in unexpected ways.

EXHIBITION

Monument: Aftermath of War and Conflict

The Undercroft, Norwich, until August 3, admission free, www.scva.ac.uk

Spin-off from the on-going exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre dedicated to commemorations marking the centenary of the First World War. The Undercroft (at the top of Norwich market) is itself beneath a First World War memorial, designed by Edwin Lutyens. Dominating the space will be 193 camouflage flags by the collective Société Réaliste and an installation by John Cornu, of a cloud of 300 First World War horse-traps. The element of risk will be heightened by Djamel Kokène’s enormous ball of barbed wire evoking the idea of both weapon and deterrent. The exhibition will also contains a number of interactive elements including Marcus Vergette’s bell Silence, Beat, Silence, which may be rung by visitors.

LITERATURE

John Carey

Norwich Playhouse, June 17, 7.30pm, £12 (£10 cons), 01603 598598, www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk

Norwich Writers’ Centre hosts an evening of book-talk, anecdotes and lively discussion with critic, biographer and famed cultural commentator John Carey. Whilst discussing his latest book, The Unexpected Professor with writer and critic DJ Taylor, Carey will offer “a personal account of what books and reading have meant to me” as well as stories about some of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Carey is a sharp commentator who believes that reading is life-changing and that books shouldn’t be the exclusive preserve of any one group. This discussion will be rich with novels and nostalgia, an extensive reading list and charged social insight. Nobel Laureate JM Coetzee also returns to the Playhouse on June 19.

COMEDY

Reduced Shakespeare Company

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, June 19, 2pm/7.30pm, £20-£8.50, 01284 769505, www.theatreroyal.org

The Bard goes bite-sized again. Boiling Shakespeare’s output down to a single show might strike traditionalists as an act of blasphemy, but the RSC believe it’s just what the playwright would have wanted. The comedy, which launched in 1987 and ran at the West End’s Criterion Theatre for nine years, condenses all 37 plays into a series of quick-fire skits. In the space of 97 minutes Othello is performed as a rap song and Titus Andronicus — famed for its gruesome, cannibalistic climax — is presented as a TV cookery programme. Most famously, the American cast races through royal tragedy Hamlet in under a minute — and perform it again backwards for the finale.

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