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

Matt Green, who appears at the Unthank Arms Comedy Festival

Matt Green, who appears at the Unthank Arms Comedy Festival - Credit: Archant

Unthank Arms hosts its eighth comedy festival, Crude Apache celebrate their 20th anniversary with Gammer Gurton's Needle, Yarmouth's 'herring lassies' are celebrated in a new play, John Hegley offers his latest verse on the quirky charms of everyday life, and there is a recital by violinist and piano talents Tasmin Little & Piers Lane. SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this week.


Unthank Comedy Festival

Unthank Arms, Newmarket Street, Norwich, on July 1-3, 7.30pm, each night £12.50, 01603 508050,

The Unthank Arms hosts its eighth comedy festival next week — a three day event that has grown from strength to strength and attracts some top comedians. On July 1, Roger Monkhouse, who has long been one of the most original and distinctive acts on the comedy scene, a deadly combination of charm, with a trademark stage-prowling style and curious, inimitable manner, will be joined by Andrew Watts and Daliso Chaponda. Hyperactive Rob Rouse heads the bill on July 2, joined by Matt Green who returns to the Unthank with his high energy mix of observational and topical jokes, and laidback storyteller Marcus Ryan. Freaky-looking comic Carl Donnelly tops the bill on July 3, with award-winner Tom Crane and one to watch Paul F Taylor, one of the UK's most exciting and distinctive new stand-up performers.


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Gammer Gurton's Needle

Strangers' Hall, Charing Cross, Norwich, July 1, 7.30pm, free admission (donations welcome), 01603 667229,

Norwich community theatre collective Crude Apache celebrate their 20th anniversary this summer, with a show that combines everything that this dynamic group does best — open air theatre, broad comedy, a sense of history, and a louche disregard for convention. Gammer Gurton's Needle is one of the first English comedies, a hilarious knockabout tale of misunderstandings between larger-than-life clownish characters. 'Expect physical comedy, music, song, dance, a fast pace and some memorable moments,' says director Jo Swan. The tour kicks off next week in the Tudor garden at Stranger's Hall, then visits Wensum Park (July 2, 7.30pm); Grapes Hill Community Garden (July 3); Heigham Park (July 4, 7.30pm); The Whiffler Theatre at Castle Gardens (July 6, 3pm/July 11, 12, 7.30pm); Waterloo Park (July 8, 7.30pm); Plantation Gardens (July 9, 7.30pm); and Cow Tower (July 10, 7.30pm).


City of Angels

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, July 2-5, 7.30pm, 2.30pm July 5, £14 (£12 matinee), 01603 620917,

Multi NODA award-winning Threshold Theatre Company make their Maddermarket debut with this multi award-winning musical comedy, a film noir parody set in the late 1940s, with a brilliant jazz and swing score by Cy Coleman and lyrics by David Zippel. The author of a successful series of LA-set detective novels has been hired to adapt one of them for the movies by fast-talking megalomaniac producer-director Buddy Fidler. But the characters of his imagination come to life. His real life is performed in colour, while scenes from his screenplay are performed in black and white. The production includes a cast of over 20 and a 12-piece Big Band.


Get Up and Tie Your Fingers

St George's Theatre, Great Yarmouth, July 2/4, 7.30pm, July 3/5, 2.30pm, £11 (£8 cons), 01493 331484,

In the 19th century young Scottish men sailed to Greenland to hunt whales, while young women travelled along the east coast to Great Yarmouth to gut herring. With knives at the ready and strips of cloths tied around their thumbs and forefingers to protect form the blades, the 'herring lassies', as they were known, gutted, salted, and barrelled the 'silver darlings', destined for markets across the world. Ann Coburn's play dramatises the daily lives of the herring lassies, whose lives were dominated by work, overshadowed by the moods of the sea, but released in the telling of stories and the singing of songs.


John Hegley

Norwich Arts Centre, July 3, 8pm, £13 (£10 cons), 01603 660352,

Since his discovery by John Peel in 1983, John Hegley's stature as one of the nation's most popular, innovative and eccentric talents has never been in doubt. His shows regularly sell-out at the Edinburgh Festival. His poems delight in the quirky charms of everyday life, including dogs, glasses, his hometown of Luton, the stuff of life and potatoes. This return to Norwich, mandolin in hand, will include pieces new and older; sung, spoken and awoken with dance: meditations upon family, celery and happier Daleks. Devised largely for adults but tolerable for some nine-year-olds.


Tasmin Little & Piers Lane

St Edmund's Church, Southwold, July 3, 7.30pm, £20, 07554 585580,

Southwold Arts Festival gets underway with this partnership of big-name pianist and a big-name violinist. Tasmin Little has played with many of the world's greatest orchestras in a career that has taken her to every continent of the world. In addition to her regular solo performances, she has played or directed orchestras such as Royal Philharmonic, London Mozart Players, English Chamber Orchestra, European Union Chamber Orchestra and the Britten Sinfonia. Pianist Piers Lane was brought up in Australia, but he's been based in London since 1979, with regular appearances at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, at Wigmore Hall and on Radio 3.The programme includes Schubert's Rondo Brillant, D.895, Ferguson Sonata no.2 and Ravel's Piece en forme de Habanera, plus Richard Strauss's Violin Sonata.

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