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

How will the sequel compare to How To Train Your Dragon?

How will the sequel compare to How To Train Your Dragon? - Credit: PA

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. OLLIE HOFF picks six cultural highlights not to miss this week.


How to Train Your Dragon 2 (PG)

In cinemas now

The original was one of those films that was swept up in the great 3D gold rush of 2010. Most of the post-Avatar cash-ins were insipid post-production conversions that managed to quickly dampen the James Cameron-inspired excitement of 3D.

How To Train Your Dragon was the one that kept the wonder of it. It was beautiful to look at and the 3D was exemplary.

Four years on, spectacle is again the sequel's main asset. It feels like an entry level action movie, packed with flying sequences and all the relentless motion you associate with such films. All of it is beautifully rendered and fully enhanced by the 3D.

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On the occasions when it takes a breather for some story and character development, it is reasonably involving. Having persuaded his Viking tribe to stop hunting dragons and instead train them to work alongside them, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is being lined up to take over as the tribe chieftain by his father, the present chief, Stoick (Gerard Butler). When a new and fearsome menace emerges to menace the tribe, Hiccup advocates negotiation rather than confrontation, even though his father argues that Drago (Djimon Hounsou) is an evil that cannot be reasoned with.

The film pushes some fine liberal values while satisfying its audience with plenty of fire-breathing dragons and battle scenes.

The characters and humour are recognisably those of a children's animation but the tone of the story is more sombre and adult. It is an odd but effective mix and a feast for the eyes.


Funny About Love

Funny About Love, written by Terence Frisby, begins on Friday July 25 and runs until Wednesday July 30.

This year's summer rep will be a short sharp six-week blast of five productions, which run just once.

The dramas will be performed by a company of eight professionals, bolstered by two young actors from Paston Sixth Form College, Joshua Duckmanton and Megan Bailes, who play the children in one of the farces.

Among the cast are returnees Richard Keightley who is playing four lead roles, and Ryan Starling, who is from North Walsham.

The productions will cover an eclectic mix of genres from farce and spine-chilling thrills to dark comedy and spoof vampires.

Funny About Love is set in a seemingly idyllic luxury London flat but life is turned upside-down for Rosie after her 52-year-old husband Piers leaves her for his pregnant secretary Larissa.

When Larissa's husband Darren turns up, he and Rosie plan their revenge.

The play's writer also penned There's a Girl in My Soup, which was turned into a 1970 film staring Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn, and he will be directing the summer rep production.

Debbie Thompson, director of Sheringham Little Theatre, said: 'We certainly aren't resting on our laurels – in fact we're rushed off our feet to ensure this season is of the absolute highest quality.'

For bookings and information about all the plays call the box office on 01263 822347 or visit


Edith Cavell commemorative concert

The world premiere of Eventide, written by Patrick Hawes, will be held at Norwich Cathedral on Saturday July 12 at 7.30pm.

It will be performed by 120 singers, including 34 children from the International Britten Music Course at Gresham's Prep School in Holt held this week.

They will be joined by the Sheringham and Cromer Choral Society, Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and the 50-strong English Chamber Orchestra.

Mr Hawes, who has lived in the Norfolk Broads area for eight years, joined the music residential course for one day.

He said: 'The concert is going to be an amazing occasion. The children sound wonderfully bright and polished. The sound has got the innocence of youth as well as a knowingness. I get the sense Eventide will be the most moving piece I have written. There won't be a dry eye in the house. I am very moved that young people are taking part.'

The youngsters on the residential Britten course are aged eight to 13 and come from Gresham's Prep School, All Saints' Primary School in Stibbard, St Nicholas House Preparatory School in North Walsham, Glebe House School in Hunstanton, Beeston Hall School near Sheringham and the Norwich School.

Other young singers have come from as far as Bahrain and Venice.

The 43-minute performance of Eventide, which includes words written and spoken by Edith Cavell, will be sung in front of 800 people.

It also incorporates the 'haunting' tune of Christian hymn Abide With Me spoken by the nurse the night before her execution on October 12 1915 aged 49.

She was found guilty of treason and shot by a German firing squad after helping about 200 allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium.

Edith Cavell was born in Swardeston, where her father was a vicar.

Mr Hawes, who is the current Gresham's composer in residence until December this year, spent one year writing Eventide and was helped by his brother the Rev Canon Andrew Hawes, a vicar from Lincolnshire.

'Through my research I became aware of not only how brave, patriotic and kind she was. But overall she was utterly committed to the Christian faith. To me she was almost saint like,' the composer added.

It was recently reported that Edith Cavell would be commemorated on a new £5 coin.

Tom Appleton, Gresham's music outreach director, said: 'Many of the music course students have not sung with an orchestra before and to have their first experience in front of the English Chamber Orchestra is exceptional. It is really important to keep the message of the war alive so that the children can learn from the mistakes of the past. Eventide is so beautiful.'

About 70 unreserved side aisle tickets are still available and cost £10. Call 01603 630000 to book.


Hippodrome Circus

In a small street behind the seaside Great Yarmouth seafront lies an amazing building that stages unbelievable things in the Opera House style auditorium of a bygone age — three men ride screaming motorbikes in a giant steel globe; a crazy man hangs and walks around a giant steel wheel like some demented hamster and beautiful girls swim in an amazing pool with huge fountains that have appeared in front of your eyes.

As if by magic, hilarious jokes are performed, not by clowns, but by the loveable inmates of this crazy place - Adonis like men from the Dolce & Gabbana catwalk perform mind-bending acrobatic feats of strength effortlessly before your eyes; the crazy Russian professor has you crying with laughter at his unbelievable faith in his falls; and springboard acrobats twirl and somersault high in the air.

The historic Hippodrome Circus celebrates its 111th year with its all action Summer Circus and Water Spectacular, which starts its run next week with a show that runs throughout the summer right through until September.

Britain's last surviving circus building stages the brand new blockbuster extravaganza with amazing international circus artists, comedians, dancers, swimmers, acrobats and mind blowing feats of daring — all manner of amazing things behind its famous art nouveau doors. It's always a unique, fun, mind-bending two hours in Britain's best showbiz and circus arena that is like enter a different world.

This year's show is being presented in the Hippodrome's brand new Opera House setting, inspired by the Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.

The set has been made by Gorleston-based imagineers 3d Creations who previously created the giant pirate galleon stage design that was the setting for the Hippodrome's Easter show.

Host and co-producer Jack Jay said visitors could also expect a new level of opulence at the circus, with the restoration what was lost during the Second World War when ornate decoration was used for target practice.

He said it was something they had hoped to do for around five years and were just putting the finishing touches to drapes, finery, gold columns and opera-style boxes.

'It will be dramatic as soon as you walk in,' he said. 'We have taken the Hippodrome to a whole new level of opulence.

'The show is looking amazing and we have got some fantastic acts. It is the first time we have had the wheel of death and the globe at the same time, which will be an interesting logistical feat in itself.

'Both are top acts and would be enough on their own, so to have them both is great and is something that has never happened all the time we have been here.'

This summer's show features some death defying extreme circus stunts with the return of daredevil Swiss performer Gengis van Gool and his Wheel of Death, which will see bounding round the outside and leaping off what looks like a giant hamster wheel.

Mr Jay said: 'The wheel of death has long been a favourite at the Hippodrome and Gengis is an absolute master.'

There will be laughs from a master as madcap Russian comedy genius Vladimir Georgievsky takes to the Hippodrome ring direct from Las Vegas, where he has been starring as Professor Wacko with a wild ride that involves leaping from trampolines and getting hit in places no man should get hit.

There will be more hilarious antics from local comedy stars Jack Jay and Johnny Mac who were a big success in their Easter pirates live show at the Hippodrome and are now firmly established as one of the country's leading double acts. Their summer performances will feature a new, specially written, comedy feast promising plenty of hilarious slapstick and water comedy moments.

Incredible Polish strongmen Duo Creative — aka Michael & Zbigniew — will show the beauty of the physical strength with some skills that seem to be acting against the laws of physics.

The mind blowing finale Water Spectacular is always a highlight of these shows. One of only three in the world and the only place in Europe that stages such a show with swimmers, aerialists and special effects; when the ring turns into a giant pool. It's an unforgettable circus experience.

This summer taking to the water will be Dolce & Gabanna models who star in the arena's water spectacle and the breathtaking springboard artists the Aliante troupe.

Spectacular & Water Show 2014, Hippodrome, Great Yarmouth, July 16-September 21, various times, £21-£19 (£16.50-£13 cons), £11-£10 children, family ticket offer £12 off stalls/£10 off circle, 01493 844172,


Heveningham Hall Country Fair with Halesworth Lions' Wings & Wheels

The organisers of this year's Heveningham Hall Country Fair with Halesworth Lions' Wings & Wheels have announced even more attractions and exhibitors for this coming weekend.

The fair, which also plays host to the Heveningham Hall X 10k run on the Sunday, will have a wide range of local food and drink producers, including St Peter's Brewery, Jilly's Jackets and Hillfarm Oils.

There will also be the Melford Green Alpacas on show as well as the Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth exhibition.

The Eagle Heights Falconry and Suffolk Punches will also be in attendance. There will also be an opportunity to try clay pigeon shooting with the team from High Lodge.

Chairwoman and charity trustee Anne Clark said: 'With all proceeds from the fair going to local charities, we are really looking forward to welcomig as many people as possible over the two-day event so come down and join in the fun.'

For more information, visit


Barford Festival

Barford Playing Fields, July 12, 2pm-11pm, £6.50 adv, £4.50 children, £21.50 family, 01603 508050,

Celebrating its ninth year, Barford Festival is family event just outside Norwich with tons of entertainment for all. Mad science workshops with Barnstormin Norman, Steampunk magician, Zorb balls, circus workshop, art tent, pop-up drama. Lots of local bands and performers playing live playing throughout the day. There is also an on-site beer festival, posh Pimms and Prosecco tent, and foodies heaven courtesy of Capt A's BBQ, wood-fired pizza, Vettes Veggie Van, Barista coffee plus more.

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