Your guide to Christmas shows - which aren’t pantos

A scene from the Cromer Christmas Show 2015. Picture: AL PULFORD

A scene from the Cromer Christmas Show 2015. Picture: AL PULFORD - Credit: Archant

Here's our pick of family shows in East Anglia this Christmas which offer festive spirit without the panto clichés.


•Northhanger Abbey

Downham Market Town Hall, December 11, 7.30pm, £7, 01366 383936,

Box Tale Soup's version of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey features a cast of just two human performers and seven hand made puppets. Despite this it remains faithful to the original work, taking the vast majority of the dialogue verbatim from the novel. This, combined with the use of puppetry, has made the production a favourite of Austen lovers and sceptics alike. Young, naïve and unlikely heroine Catherine Morland is introduced into society and the delights of the Gothic novel, falling in love with the dashing, witty (if mildly sarcastic) Henry Tilney and allowing her overactive imagination to get the better of her. It is a heart warming love story with genuine laugh-out-loud humour and dark, melodramatic Gothic horror.

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•Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol

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Granary Theatre, Wells, December 10, 7.30pm, £10 (£9 cons), 01328 710193,

In this festive family favourite and Victorian theatrical treat, literature's much-loved and quirky detective Sherlock Holmes is infused with the spirit of a crotchety Ebenezer Scrooge. A magical mix of Dickens and Doyle within this exhilarating visual and audio feast it has proved popular for Barque Theatre. Doctor Watson's failed attempts to cheer Holmes into celebrating the holiday season, forces the unrepentant, ill-tempered detective to deduce the facts and solve the most important mystery of his life. The storied detective has been years of hiding, all thought him to be dead after acting as executioner to one merciless criminal, 'the Napoleon of Crime.' It's a well crafted story by John Longenbaugh which combines two iconic British institutions of literature, stage and screen.


•Caucasian Chalk Circle

The Cut, Halesworth, December 11-12, 7.30pm, £7, £4 under-16s, 0845 6732123,

Revolution, a city in flames and the governor's dead. A young servant girl must make a choice; save her own skin or sacrifice everything to rescue an abandoned child. This bold new production of Bertholt Brecht Brecht's moral masterpiece is here staged by Mini Mouth Theatre Company, directed by James Holloway and with choreography from Caroline Mummery. In a time of terror, followed by a time of peace, when order has been restored the governor's wife returns to reclaim the son she left behind.

•Holy Mackerel!

Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich, until January 9, various dates/times, £10, 01473 211498,

Those of a certain age will remember the fishy dramas that triggered The Cod War in the 1970s but who has heard of The Fish Riots? No? Well Christmas show from regional touring company Eastern Angles tells the tale of how East Anglian fishermen were tempted to sail round to Cornwall and replace the locals when they refused to go to sea on a Sunday. It's a show told with humour, plenty of sea-shanties and nautical fishty-cuffs.

•Jolly Christmas Postman

Seagull Theatre, Pakefield, Lowestoft, December 15-21, 10.30am/1.30pm, £5, 01502 589726,

After their sell-out Festive Frosty Parties last year, leading children's entertainment company Just Kids Parties East Anglia are back presenting this latest festive family show. Join the Jolly Christmas Postman as he makes his Christmas rounds, meeting well-known characters along the way, with singalong songs, a bit of dancing, fun and festive frolics thrown in. The show is ideal for children from toddlers upwards.

• Paper Dolls

New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until January 2, various dates/times, £10-£5, 01473 295900,

Adapted from the acclaimed book by Julia Donaldson, this magical tale is brought to life through puppetry and music. When a little girl cuts out a string of paper dolls she begins a fantastical adventure. Ticky, Tacky, Jackie the Backie, Jim with two noses and Jo face the clutches of a toy dinosaur and the snapping jaws of the oven-glove crocodile, and then a very real boy with very real scissors threatens to snip their adventure short. This is a new co-production between Little Angel Theatre and Polka Theatre; reigniting the partnership between Peter Glanville and Lyndie Wright who worked together to produce We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Ages 3-7.

• The Wind in the Willows

Seagull Theatre, Pakefield, Lowestoft, December 10-12, 7.30pm, £8 (£7 cons), 01502 589726,

A delightful stage adaptation that combines all the joy and mystery of Kenneth Grahame's much-loved classic with the lightness of touch and playful theatricality that award-winning playwright Mike Kenny is known for. Tired of spring-cleaning, Mole leaves Mole End and ventures out to the riverbank, where he befriends the resourceful Ratty, the gruff Badger and the infamous Toad of Toad Hall. Together they explore the Wide World, and the Wild Wood, and try to keep Toad out of trouble!


•Horrible Christmas

Cambridge Corn Exchange, December 14-January 9, various dates/times, £22.50 (£12.50 cons), £17 children, £55 family, 01223 357851,

The Horrible Histories team with the terrible tale of Christmas as it's never been told before! When Christmas comes under threat from a jolly man dressed in red, it's up to one young boy to save the day – but can he really do the trick? From Victorian villains to Medieval monks, Puritan parties to Tudor treats, this is a hair-raising romp through the history of Christmas in the company of Charles Dickens, Oliver Cromwell, King Henry VIII, St Nicholas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and an attempt to rescue the festive season.

•Snow White and Rose Red

Junction, Clifton Road, Cambridge, until December 31, £15 (£10 cons), £42 family, 01223 511511,

The story Snow White and Rose Red is a more obscure Grimm fairytale. Acclaimed theatre company RashDash, whose acclaimed productions always blend music, dance and theatre, present it as a musical quest for justice, love, and friendship. Snow White likes to tell stories and paint. Rose Red likes to race with the deer and the wolves. When a friendly bear knocks on their door, the mischievous sisters have no idea that it's the beginning of a magnificent adventure. Journeying deeper into the woods than ever before, they battle blizzards, climb mountains and encounter a very small man with a very long, but very magic beard.

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