Mardling The Bard

The Unthank Arms, Norwich

The Unthank Arms, Norwich

Traditionalists might baulk at the idea of A Midsummer Night's Dream given a Norfolk twist.

But then, what could be more Shakespearian than gathering in an alehouse to witness a troupe of local actors tackling one of the Bard's most popular comedies?

The frolics constitute part of Norfolk Non-Stop, a week-long festival of drama, songs and yarns from Spin-Off productions, all celebrating the vitality of our fair county's vernacular.

And from the moment it is announced that Lysander wooed Hermia with the aid of his Norfolk dumplings, it is clear that this will be Shakespeare as you've never experienced it before.

With four superb actors performing the various roles between them, Eve Stebbing's adaptation skilfully sprinkles the text with local references and gags (of Hermia: 'It's the law of Norwich what've caught her up like a noose'), while allowing original lines space to breathe.

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Indeed, the whole production succeeds admirably in illustrating the pungency of local dialect and reclaims its celebration from the cosy, nostalgia-weary niche similar enterprises often seem to aim for.

As Bottom, Daniel Amis was wonderfully gormless, and Sadie McMahon brought a deft comic touch to her broad Norfolk Helena.

Mardling the Bard will be performed again at the Unthank Arms tonight, March 9, and is worth a fiver of anyone's money.

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