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

Sophie Ellis Bextor who performs in Norwich

Sophie Ellis Bextor who performs in Norwich - Credit: Archant

Sophie Ellis-Bextor brings the straight-up ballads and baroque pop of her latest album Wanderlust to the Waterfront, the untold stories of Bletchley Park and extraordinary genius Alan Turing feature in That Is All You Need To Know, Elveden hosts its comedy night, Count Basie's sound is revived and exhibition Reality brings together over 50 works celebrating the strength of British painting of the last 60 years. SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this weekend.


Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Waterfront, King Street, Norwich, September 25, 7.30pm, £20, 01603 508050,

For a singer whose biggest hits include a song called Murder On The Dancefloor, appearing on Strictly Come Dancing seemed like the perfect move. For Sophie Ellis-Bextor, taking part paid off. Not long after she'd hung up her dancing shoes, came Wanderlust. Unlike Ellis-Bextor's previous work, which was almost solely based in disco and the kind of handbag house music Kylie used to make, this new album takes in a wide range of genres, from straight-up ballads to the baroque pop. One of the players on the album is her husband Richard Jones, bass player in The Feeling, along with Harcourt, who will both feature in the band on Ellis-Bextor's tour which arrives at the Waterfront in Norwich tonight.


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That Is All You Need To Know

Norwich Playhouse, September 27, 7.30pm, £10 (£8 cons), £7 student, 01603 598598,

Award-nominated Idle Motion, one of the country's leading visual theatre companies, tells the untold stories of Bletchley Park and the extraordinary genius Alan Turing. During the Second World War, the grounds of Bletchley housed some of Britain's greatest minds. Alongside Turing and Gordon Welchman, thousands of gifted men and women lived and worked together in this eccentric country house. Decades later, as Bletchley's secrets begin to be known, another group of groundbreaking volunteers gather to save the home of the Enigma code breakers. This piece blends personal testimony and multi-media technology to celebrate humanity's determination to crack the impossible code.


Elveden Comedy Night

Elveden Estate, September 26, 7.30pm, £10 adv/£12 door, 01842 898068,

Laugher with four fantastic performers at Elveden's popular annual comedy night. MC for the night is Dave Whitney who became infamous on the circuit for head-butting a heckler at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe – but fear not he has calmed down since then, and now lets his razor-sharp wit do the talking. Opening comedian Colin Cole is literally one of the biggest names in comedy in Australia - not only is he 6' 7', he is also known for his hugely dynamic performances. Phil Butler served a long apprenticeship in holiday parks, end of the pier shows and pantos, but is now sought after for his stand-up and as a comic actor. Headliner is Junior Simpson whose infectious humour and observational style sees him finding his humour in the everyday and humdrum.


Arms and the Man

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, September 25-October 4, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Oct 4, £12-£8, 01603 620917,

Raina, our heroine, is set to marry a dashing cavalry officer Sergi, in George Bernard Shaw's romantic comedy, the latest production at Norwich's Maddermarket Theatre. Her world order is overturned when she encounters an enemy soldier, who prefers chocolate to cartridges. Her concepts of war and heroism, love and marriage are about to be challenged. Lucinda Bray, who is directing the production, said: 'As the director I can tell you I was in love with the play by the end of the first page of stage directions, rich in colour and tone. I found the play, originally written for a naturalistic set, filled my imagination. The production will bring a new edge to a beautiful romantic comedy, written with an edge of warning to the world of the folly of war.'


Back to Basie Orchestra

The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, September 28, 7.30pm, £18 (£16 cons), £5 under-25s, 01284 758000,

Directed by trumpeter Paul Lacey, the Orchestra features top London session musicians and jazz soloists all dedicated to playing the music of Count Basie's second great orchestra in the 1950s and 1960s. The band captures the sound and spirit of the legendary 'Swingin' Machine'. Launched in 2001, they have since been presenting Count Basie tribute concerts throughout Britain and Europe to universal acclaim and been voted Best Big Band in the British Jazz Awards six times.


Reality: Modern & Contemporary British Painting

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, September 27-March 1, Tues-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm, £8 (£6 cons), 01603 593199,

Curated by artist Chris Stevens, Reality brings together over 50 works celebrating the strength of British painting with some of the best and most influential artists of the last 60 years. Major 20th century artists are represented such as Walter Sickert, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and David Hockney, alongside contemporary painters including Ken Currie, George Shaw and Caroline Walker. The artists tackle a diverse range of subjects, referencing the body, relationships, history, politics, war, the urban environment and social issues. Despite these different references, the works are all united by two things - the harsh realities that have concerned key British artists over the decades and the simple act of painting.

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