New season: Westacre River Studios

One of the area's smaller venues has announced its autumn schedule with drama, family entertainment and more lined up.

One of the area's smaller venues has announced its autumn schedule with drama, family entertainment and more lined up.

Westacre River Studios has as lovely a setting as its name suggests, being in a converted chapel beside one of the Norfolk's loveliest rivers, the Nar. A few miles north-west of Swaffham, the venue also has a very successful summer in-the-round theatre a few hundred yards away.

Its current production is an adaptation of two of Alan Bennett's brilliant Talking Heads monologues, A Woman of No Importance and Soldiering On! , running today and tomorrow at 7.30pm (tickets £12/£6 - returns only).

A Woman of No Importance introduces us to 'Peggy' whose precise and punctilious office world faces radical disruption following a trip to the doctors. We then meet 'Muriel' who finds herself comfortably off following the death of her husband, but still faces a series of crises precipitated by the unexpected behaviour of her adult children and her deceased husband in Soldiering On.

On Sunday October 21, there's a Gala Event to raise cash for the Studio's well-established and successful drama workshops and Bursary Awards programme to encourage young local actors. A cocktail reception at 11.30am is followed by entertainment and refreshment from noon-2.30pm including sketches performed by actors from London together with popular local performers, music, food, an auction of prizes and a 50:50 draw. Tickets £25 each.

Nola Rae and Lasse Akerlund join forces for Handmade Shakespeare on October 26 and 27. The zany clowns have created an evening of theatrical delight including a mad version of Shakespeare's murderous Scottish Play Macbeth by Lasse - set on a table and played by his lunch.

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Nola then plays out her famous version of Hamlet in The Tragedy of Handlet performed by two gloved hands. The bittersweet Italian play Romeo and Juliet is then performed where we see two tragic lovers found discarded in separate dustbins. They are then animated by two rival clowns who like to rummage. Tickets £15 for the 7.30pm shows.

Duet for One, by Tom Kempinski, runs on November 16-17 ands 23-24 and is a powerful, moving and emotional theatrical journey inspired by the great cellist Jacqueline du Pre. Stephanie is a world- class violinist whose life has been shattered by the onset of a wasting disease. At her husband's instigation she visits a psycho-analyst, Dr Feldmann. Tickets £12 and £6.

On the Rocks with Richard Burton (November 30, 7.30pm) is a one-man show from Richard Waters based on the hell-raising life of the Welsh actor. From a leather armchair, and with a vodka bottle for company, Burton recounts his rise from the valleys to the West End, then to 'sweetly poisonous Hollywood'. Marriage to the impossibly glamorous Elizabeth Taylor follows, but his problems continue in this engaging show. Tickets £15.

Westacre goes back to characters created by Kenneth Grahame for its Christmas production. Return to the Willows, written by Andy Naylor, takes the Wind in the Willows characters and ponders: what happened next? Mole (Issy Huckle), Ratty (Katherine Shaw) and Badger (Clive Hadfield) are just enjoying a little respite from Toad's (David Connor) madcap antics when their hard-won peace is once again shattered by the arrival of an even more disruptive presence than the legendary Toad himself - his niece and nephew, the terrible Toad Twins. The show runs from December 14 to 29. Check with box office for show times and prices.

t 01760 755800; www.westacreriverstudios.co.uk

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