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

London Classic Theatre's production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends. Photo: Sheila Burnett

London Classic Theatre's production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends. Photo: Sheila Burnett - Credit: Sheila Burnett

Alan Ayckbourn's sharp comedy Absent Friends is the anniversary production of London Classic Theatre, plus Boom Bap Festival, comedy, classical and jazz, SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this weekend.


Absent Friends

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, until June 6, 7.30pm, £26- £8.50, £10.50-£8.50 under-21, 01284 769505,

Alan Ayckbourn is certainly prolific, with almost 80 plays to his name — more than half of which have been produced in London's West End so it is no surprise that London Classic Theatre, who have previously visited Bury Theatre Royal with Entertaining Mr Sloane, Betrayal and The Importance of Being Earnest, have chosen one of his plays, Absent Friends, as part of their 15th anniversary season. Set in the summer of 1974 the sharp comedy centres around a well-intentioned tea party that descends into chaos. Wealthy, unfulfilled housewife Diana arranges a gathering of old friends to cheer up bereaved Colin, whose fiancée drowned two months earlier. Preparations spark tensions and open old wounds.


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Phil Buckley's Big Idea

The Garage, Chapel Field North, Norwich, June 5, 8pm, £10 (£8 cons), 01603 598646,

Have you ever had an earth shatteringly good idea? Phil Buckley hasn't. He may be a multi award nominated comedian but he is still an idiot. Last year by chance Phil met Jack Andraka, a teenage boy who may have changed the world. At the age of just 15 Jack has done what scientists with millions of dollars-worth of research at their disposal have failed to do. He invented a dipstick-type sensor to detect pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer. Phil is 34 and has never had a remotely good idea in his life. Phil Buckley's Big Idea, his latest show which he brings to The Garage in Norwich this weekend, sees him try to turn himself from an idiot to a genius by unorthodox methods. Filled with hilarious observations, anecdotes and unashamed jokes.


Boom Bap Festival

Mildenhall Stadium, June 5-7, £90 (weekend), £75 (day),

In 2009, Tyler, The Creator discovered Earl Sweatshirt, then known as Sly Tendencies, via his MySpace account. Earl eventually joined Tyler's rap group Odd Future. Now 21 and a colossal force in rap, Earl Sweatshirt is the big name headliner at Boom Bap 2015. One of the few hip hop festivals, Boom Bap returns to Mildenhall's speedway stadium to unleash a frontline international hip hop line-up – as well as showcasing live bands, future beats, dance music, soul, funk and reggae. Also performing over the weekend will be the likes of Skepta, Ratking, Foreign Beggars, Fatima, Jeru the Damaja, The Four Owls, Skitz Showcase feat. Rodney P, Skinnyman and Lewis Parker. The festival site will also become a canvas for the four elements of hip hop, MCing, DJing, breaking and graffiti. Three stages, over a hundred artists, and a limited run of just 2,000 tickets.


Cavaleri Quartet

Holkham Hall, June 6, 7pm, £25, 01328 713111,

The Cavaleri Quartet first came to prominence in the UK after winning the Royal Over-Seas League Ensemble Competition in 2011 and have since won a string of prestigious awards. Their programme for this Holkham Marble Hall concert spans three centuries of great string quartet writing: Mozart way ahead of his time in the so-called 'Dissonance' quartet, Brahms after destroying more than 20 quartets at last found his feet in his Op.51 quartets and Shostakovich dedicated his 8th quartet 'to the victims of fascism and war'. They are also at Great Yarmouth Minister on June 11 as part of the town's arts festival (details at playing Haydn 'The Fifths', Frank Bridge 'The Londonderry Air' and Mendelssohn Op 13 A minor.


Here We Are Again

Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, June 7, 2.15pm, £10, 01502 533200,

After a successful cross-border raid last summer, Keith Skipper and his Norfolk Missionaries of Mirth and Melody make a return in the precious name of neighbourly fun and frolics. Other members of the cast are Mundesley favourites Pat Nearney (comedian) and Sheilah Olley (The Norfolk Fairy), Chris Holderness (fiddler supreme from the Rig-a-jig-jig folk band), Danny Platton (Singing Postman tribute specialist), Ian Prettyman (Lowestoft-based cultural attaché and melodeon maestro) and Mik Godfrey (bus-driving Bard of Bodham). 'We know the Canaries put the skids under the Tractor Boys on their way to Wembley glory, but we venture into Suffolk not to crow but to console' says Keith. There will be a collection for EDP We Care Appeal at end of show.


The Button Band

Milestones Jazz Club, Hotel Hatfield, Lowestoft, June 7, 8pm, £7 (£6 cons), 01502 568684,

Andrew Button is a guitarist and composer leading his London band on its first UK tour through originals that reflect the influence of Bill Frisell, John Scofield and Loose Tubes. Sometimes playful, sometimes melancholy, always quietly grooving, the band, also including tenor sax Andy Woolf, bassist Dave Manington and Jon Ormaston on drums, play contemporary jazz, highlighting Andrew's free-flowing, lyrical style, including the flavours of not just modern jazz but also folk and country music. This Milestones concert is the only East Anglian date on a UK tour to promote the release of their eponymous debut album.

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