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

The Absence of War. Picture: Mark Douet

The Absence of War. Picture: Mark Douet - Credit: Photo by Mark Douet

David Hare's political satire, women in science, comedy and performance. SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this week.


The Absence of War

Norwich Theatre Royal, February 24-28, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Feb 26/28, £24-£5.50, 01603 630000,

George Jones is your archetypal Labour leader. His dual loves of cigarettes and Shakespeare help fuel his dream of winning the keys of Number Ten. But how is he going to convince voters he is the man to lead them for the years ahead? Are MPs really respected anymore and how can he make the right decisions about his fashion to make him look like the vote-winning 'Man In The Street?' These are just some of the quandaries at the heart of David Hare's uber-satirical comedy, starring Reece Dinsdale in the role of the troubled but ambitious politician. The play, which premiered in 1993 at the National Theatre, was Hare's final instalment of his trilogy about Britain, and was based on his behind the scenes observations of the Labour Party leadership during their unsuccessful general election campaign of the previous year.


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KL Comedy Club

King's Lynn Corn Exchange, February 26, 8.45pm, £9.50, 01553 764864,

Four more comedians take to the Corn Exchange stage at February's King's Lynn Comedy Club night. Rich Wilson began his comedy career in 2004 after been spotted by Rob Rouse and has since then he has gone from strength to strength with his warm, likeable manner. Ben Norris is one of the most sought after acts on the circuit and has developed a reputation for his ability to work an audience and think fast on his feet. They are joined by award-winning stand-up Paul Ricketts whose humour focuses not only on sharp observations from life, but also racial, cultural and satirical subjects, intermingled with strange tales of ordinary madness; and Colin Cole one of the biggest names in comedy in Australia, known for his fast and furious delivery, and material ranges from the topical to the observational.


Grant Nicholas

Waterfront Studio, King Street, Norwich, February 25, 7.30pm, £15, 01603 508050,

Feeder frontman Grant Nicholas goes it alone in this very intimate show to play tracks from his new album Yorktown Heights and more. Feeder's last official gig was at the Brixton Academy in late 2012 and after 20-years without any time off, the band decided to give it a break for a short time, with Nicholas deciding to use the time to record and promote a solo album instead. The result was a stripped-down, semi-acoustic affair with some songs –with tiles like Isolation and Broken Resolutions – sounding as if they might be detailing a relationship in trouble. It is an album with a rich melancholic vein running through it. Support from Chris Pidgeon.


Stella, A Story of Women, Their Men and Astronomy

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, February 25-26, 7.30pm, £16.50-£8.50, 01284 769505,

William Herschel discovered Uranus. So what did his sister do? She discovered eight comets, numerous nebulae, some double stars and was the first women to be offered honorary membership of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The history books are full of William's achievements, but say little about his sister. Stella, A Story of Women, Their Men and Astronomy, a new play about women and astronomy by Siobhán Nicholas tells a different story. It centres on two women astronomers from different times who reside for six days in the same house in Bath. Jessica Bell James, a 21st century radio astronomer, has been invited to write a paper on her favourite astronomer from the past.


Red Bastard

Norwich Arts Centre, February 25, 8pm, £15 (£12.50 cons), 01603 660352,

The New York-based performer wastes no time in shooting death stares at the crowd, getting in their faces, making them swap seats, even throwing them out of the venue if he doesn't like the look of them. This monster, created by Eric Davis, has become famous for charming and disarming audience members through his utterly unique stage show, asking them to confront the ultimate existensial question – 'who the hell do you think you are?' Dangerous, seductive and on a mission to charm, disarm, shock and seduce — as anyone who witnessed the performance in the Spiegeltent at last year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival will attest.


East Navigator: Never Turn Back

Auden Theatre, Gresham's School, Cromer Road, Holt, February 24, 6.30pm, free admisison, 01263 713444,

Gresham's inaugural Norfolk Festival of Nature begins with writer Dr Al Cormack and photographer Adam Shawyer's document of a 43 mile walk from Sheringham to Great Yarmouth undertaken over two December days. The presentation takes the form of 40 postcards, harking back to the outlandish images Victorians would send to one another. The pair have been tramping the highways and byways of Norfolk together for several years. There is also a reading with poets Matthew Howard of the RSPB, teacher Jonathan Ward and researcher Beau Hopkins (7.45pm).

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