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

War story: Arden Grove Infant and Nursery School recreating their story of 'the war to end all wars'

War story: Arden Grove Infant and Nursery School recreating their story of 'the war to end all wars'. - Credit: Archant

Music, singing and dancing, films and projections, poetry, letters, joy and heartbreak as the First World War is commemorated in To End All Wars, brought to vivid life by young people from local schools in partnership with professionals, The Gruffalo on stage, pianist Kenneth O'Neill and reggae legends Culture. SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this weekend.


The Gruffalo

King's Lynn Corn Exchange, August 1, 2pm, August 2-3, 11am/2pm, £11, £30 (3)/£40 (4) family, 01553 764864,

The hugely acclaim Tall Stories, who specialise in bringing popular books to the stage, return with a revival of their hit musical stage adaptation of the award-winning picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Mouse can scare hungry animals away with tall stories of the terrifying Gruffalo, but what happens when he comes face to face with the very creature he imagined...? The Gruffalo has been performed to well over a million people worldwide and has even hit the small screens in a star-studded TV animation. A perfect family treat with plenty of songs, laughs and scary fun for children aged 3+.


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Cosi fan tutte

Granary Theatre, Wells, July 31-August 3, 2.30pm/7.30pm, July 31 £10/August 1-3 £14, 01328 710193,

Following their successful staging of The Turn of the Screw last year, part of the Benjamin Britten celebrations, Seastar Opera return with Mozart's brilliant comic opera in an imaginative and energetic production directed by Susie Self. By turns hilarious and touching, Cosi fan tutte follows the story of two young couples who encounter romantic storms when conniving Don Alfonso makes a bet that their girlfriends will allow their hearts to stray. They don't count on the cunning of the Don and his mischievous accomplice Despina. The production features young singers from both the Royal College of Music and the ENO. Hear them before they become famous.


To End All Wars

Norwich Theatre Royal, August 1, 7.30pm, £15-£5.50, 01603 630000,

Music, singing and dancing, films and projections, poetry, prose, letters, joy and heartbreak as Norwich Theatre Royal commemorates the lives of just six of the people whose stories are woven into the pattern of the greatest conflict the world had ever seen. Those who were swept up in the Great War had no notion in 1914 that the conflagration would last four long years, destroy four mighty empires, redraw the map of Europe. This special production, with live narration by John Hurt, follows the wartime stories of six Norfolk citizens — a soldier who died, a soldier who survived, a member of the Land Army, a nurse, a mother and a conscientious objector — through their own words and pictures, brought to vivid life by young people from local schools in partnership with professional actors, dancers, filmmakers and visual artists.


Kenneth O'Neill

St Botolph's Church, Trunch, August 2, 7.30pm, £9 (£7 cons),

The Trunch concert series welcome young pianist, Kenneth O'Neill, whose family live in Coltishall, and who has enjoyed success in major European piano competitions and has already broadcast in Australia, while completing post-graduate studies at the Trinity-Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. His recital will include Schubert's Wanderer Fantasie, Liszt's Second Ballade and a selection of Scarlatti sonatas. He is a real upcoming musician and this looks like another of those occasions where you can support a young local talent and later you will be able to say you heard it first. Admission is by programme at the door.



Norwich Arts Centre, August 1, 8pm, £15, 01603 660352,

'Some sing music for the dollar. I sing music for the brother,' so said the late great Joseph Hill, singer and songwriter for the legendary Jamaican vocal trio Culture, who collapsed and died while on a 2006 tour of Europe. That could have been the end of one of the great reggae harmony groups. However his grief stricken Kenyatta stepped into his shoes. His father formed Culture in 1976, and had early success with the prophetic Two Sevens Clash, predicting apocalypse on 7 July 1977. During the 1970s the group had a string of highly successful singles. Influenced by elements of dancehall as well as the roots tradition, Kenyatta has also helped produced new music, including Pass the Torch, perhaps the group's best album in decades.


Life & Beth

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, until August 2, 7.30pm, 2.30pm August 2, £12-£8, 01603 620917,

One of Alan Ayckbourn's later plays, but also one of his funniest. This life-affirming ghost story was the first play he wrote after his own brush with death, a stroke he had suffered two years earlier. It's Christmas and Beth Timms is mourning the recent death of her husband, Gordon. Gordon's sister Connie, her son Martin and his strange girlfriend, Ella, have come to stay, supposedly to see that Beth has a stress-free festive break, but with Connie's drink problem and Martin's practical ineptitude, this is clearly not going to happen. Then Gordon, a pompous, domineering husband in life, returns from the dead, intent on helping Beth to 'manage her affairs'. What is she to do? A wise, humane and funny play, it handles death and bereavement with a light touch.


Michael Brennand-Wood: When Worlds Collide

Smiths Row, The Market Cross, Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds, until September 6, Tues–Sat 10.30am–5pm, admission free, 01284 762081,

Michael Brennand-Wood is internationally regarded as one of the most innovative and inspiring artists working in textiles today. Although he has lived and worked in East Anglia for many years, remarkably, this is his first solo show in the region. The exhibition title refers to the continuing influence of world events upon his thinking and artistic practice. This is particularly pertinent in the centenary of the First World War as much of his work explores how conflict, both military and cultural, impacts on lives and attitudes. Widely known for his bold use of colour and pattern to attract and engage the viewer, Brennand-Wood's politically charged imagery often only reveals its stories on close examination. He fuses Western military references with traditional Eastern Islamic patterns of central and South East Asia.

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