Drama gives the Bard a local accent

TONY COOPER Norfolk Non-Stop - a festival of Norfolk-inspired drama featuring Eve Stebbings' Spin-Off Theatre spinning a line or two in the company of the Bard and others (running from Tuesday, April 17, to Sunday, April 22) - positively says “cor!” to Norfolk and its culture and “squit!” to those who say its dialect is dead.

TONY COOPER

Norfolk Non-Stop - a festival of Norfolk-inspired drama featuring Eve Stebbings' Spin-Off Theatre spinning a line or two in the company of the Bard and others (running from Tuesday, April 17, to Sunday, April 22) - positively says “cor!” to Norfolk and its culture and “squit!” to those who say its dialect is dead.

It celebrates the work of Victorian author George Borrow and also offers a fresh chance to see Shakespeare given a Norfolk spin.

Things gets under way with a performance of Mardling the Bard: A Norfolk Twelfth Night, which can be seen upstairs at The Unthank Arms in Norwich on Tuesday, followed by Spin-Off Theatre's hugely-acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night's Dream - a hit at last year's Edinburgh Fringe.

The action is set in Geldeston and real local stories (collected by the company) plant the Bard's best roisterers firmly in Norfolk soil: Sir Andrew Aguecheek stables his horses at Loddon and the storm parallels the famous East Coast floods of 1947.

There's even a lesson in how to be a Norfolk fool! Blast ya, boy, that shunt be difficult!

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An unusual opportunity also exists to listen to a radio play downstairs at the Workshop Cafe on Earlham Road.

The show (billed as an “atmospheric mystery”) traces the difficult personality of local celebrity Victorian writer, George Borrow, fragmenting his character into a series of self-portraits and leaving the audience to puzzle and piece together the real man.

And in among these larger works, there are free lunchtime offerings in the Express section of the Millennium library.

They either take the form of “tasters” of the evening shows or give an introduction to something interesting, while legends of Norfolk food includes the chance for one to tickle one's tastebuds with local fare.

For those uninitiated in the work of Spin-Off, there's even a chance to hear the story of the company itself, now in its 10th year of raising the profile of Norfolk culture (locally and nationally) and bringing professional theatre to the most unlikely of places.

Norwich venues: Millennium Library, The Forum; Unthank Arms, Newmarket Street; The Workshop, Earlham Road. Country venues: The Cock Inn, Barford (Hingham/Watton Road); The Locks Inn, Geldeston (near Beccles).

Box office (and full programme schedule/ times - or see our online listings): 01603 663676.

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