15 shows to see across Suffolk and Essex

Two Rivers Theatre Company stage Beyond a Joke. Photo: Two Rivers Theatre Company

Two Rivers Theatre Company stage Beyond a Joke. Photo: Two Rivers Theatre Company - Credit: Archant

Our pick of the region’s theatre, comedy and stage shows over the next few days.

Creative Cow's Our Man in Havana. Photo: Matt Austin

Creative Cow's Our Man in Havana. Photo: Matt Austin - Credit: Archant

Beyond A Joke, Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich, to May 20, 7.45pm

Two Rivers Theatre Company stage Derek Benfield’s comedy about Jane and Andrew’s pleasant but accident prone country house and garden.

Several people have already met their untimely deaths in unfortunate and embarrassing circumstances, unbeknownst to Sally’s young man Geoff. Throw in unexpected visitors including the vicar, a wheelbarrow and a little misunderstanding chaos soon ensues.

This is the company’s 40th show since they were founded 20 years ago.


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Director Val Eldridge says: “I first read Beyond A Joke in 1987 when I was looking for a play for my very first forage into directing. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to cast the play at the time as I didn’t have enough men to play the parts so the idea had to be shelved.

“Thirty years on, approaching my 100th show as a director, with a wonderful cast and just the right number of men, I’m delighted to be able to offer this for your viewing delight.”

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May 1997 saw their premiere performance of Terra Nova by Ted Tally. The play was set in the cold of Antarctica but featured a rather unusually hot cast who were wearing woolly jumpers on stage in the spring.

Over the last 20 years Two Rivers have performed a variety of genres from classics like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to comedies including Noises Off by Michael Frayn. This September the group will conclude their 20th anniversary by bringing three episodes of Dad’s Army to life on stage. It will be their most expensive production to date featuring replica costumes and props from the era.

Comedian Susan Calman. Photo: Steve Ullathorne

Comedian Susan Calman. Photo: Steve Ullathorne - Credit: Archant

Bury Theatre Workshop castings, the Unitarian Meeting House, Bury St Edmunds, May 22, 7.30pm

The community theatre group is looking for actors to take part in upcoming productions of Tartuffe by Moliere, Tomb with a View by Norman Robbins and The Good Person of Szechwan by Bertolt Brecht. Anyone aged 16 and over are welcome and full details can be found here.

Members are currently in rehearsal for their production of Tom Stoppard’s classic comedy Arcadia, to be performed at the Theatre Royal May 30-June 3. Skipping between 1809 and the present day, two academics arrive at a Derbyshire stately home to investigate the history of the garden and a possible scandal involving Lord Byron.

Our Man in Havana, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, May 23-27, 7pm May 23, 7.45pm May 24-27, 2.30pm matinee May 24 and May 27

Having success with Graham Greene’s Travels With My Aunt, Creative Cow turn to another of his novels.

“We want to entertain our audiences and when you begin with such a gem of a story, you hope it make it hard to fail. Our Man in Havana is a great plot and an incredibly topical one to tell at this moment in time,” says the company’s Matthew Paris.

Mentalist Chris North. Photo: Chris North

Mentalist Chris North. Photo: Chris North - Credit: Archant

Set in Cuba 1958, it’s the story of Jim Wormold; a hapless vacuum cleaner salesman who is sucked into a dirty world of espionage and double agents.

Adapted for the stage by Clive Francis, Greene’s original novel has been filleted to perfection, bringing out the hilarious and subversive.

“It is very apt to be touring this show now. Secret agents abroad and fake news – it couldn’t be more relevant – while it’s still a funny and clever story. Clive Francis has adapted the novel so wonderfully, that it makes it accessible to a modern audience,” adds Matthew.

Katherine Senior, actor and co-founder member of Creative Cow Theatre Company, says they feel they’ve taken the company to a new level with it.

“We’ve worked with set, lighting and sound designers and a new team of actors to bring a fresh, new creativity adding to the audience experience.”

The production visits the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, June 29-August 1.

Susan Calman, Mercury Theatre, Colchester, May 21, 7.30pm

Spoken word artist Francesca Beard. Photo: Suzi Corker Photography

Spoken word artist Francesca Beard. Photo: Suzi Corker Photography - Credit: Archant

The award-winning comedian tours new show The Calman Before the Storm, which sees her give it to the man whoever he is. Her first DVD, Lady Like is on sale now. She’s also at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, June 24.

Bury Festival, various venues, Bury St Edmunds, May 19-May 28

This year’s festival includes 59 events across 13 venues with several specially arranged performances, festival exclusives, a pop-up concert and covering a wide range of musical genres. Young people and families are being encouraged to make the most of ticket offers for the under 25s which cost just £5 each. Click here for more details.

Mentalism Live, Beccles Public Hall, May 20, 7.30pm

Illusionist Chris North returns with his new show. Witness illusions of the mind that will alter your view on reality and spark discussion

long after the performance.

Centre Stage Company present Oliver. Photo: Andy Mayes

Centre Stage Company present Oliver. Photo: Andy Mayes - Credit: Archant

Psychic Sally, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, May 22, 7.30pm

Back with new show Call Me Psychic, expect a funny, entertaining, sometimes heartbreaking, often controversial night as she celebrates her ninth year on the road. Sally says: “Every night when I’m on stage amazing things happen and it’s a privilege to be able to pass on messages of love and comfort to the people I share my gift with.”

Avenue Q - The Musical, Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe, May 18-20, 7.30pm

CBM Theatre Company and The Spa Pavilion stage this outrageous Tony and Grammy Award winning musical. Sesame Street meets Seinfeld as bright-eyed college graduate Princeton who comes to New York with big dreams and little money. y funny and positive bunch of characters.

Inspired use of puppets and a collection of some of the best original songs in a musical.

Strictly Murder, Civic Theatre, Chelmsford, May 23-24, 7.45pm

Woodbridge raised Coronation Street star Brian Capron stars in the Brian Clemens’ murder mystery. It’s 1939, Provence, and English couple Peter and Suzy live in idyllic isolation; far from the rumblings of the oncoming war. Their peace is suddenly shattered by a stranger from Peter’s past.Doctors’ Corrinne Wicks and Emmerdale’s Gary Turner also star.

How To Survive a Post-Truth Apocalypse, Colchester Arts Centre, May 24, 8pm; Cambridge Junction, May 27, 1pm

Poet and spoken word artist Francesca Beard takes us on an on an epic adventure through a wonderland of lies, fictions and Wikipedia facts as she looks at the impact of lies as democracy dissolves into satire around us.

Every Brilliant Thing, Diss Corn Hall, May 19, 8pm

Following its humble beginnings at the Ludlow Fringe Festival in 2013, Every Brilliant Thing, by Duncan Macmillan and comedian Jonny Donahoe, went on to complete a UK tour and a critically acclaimed run at Edinburgh then transferred to New York, becoming the subject of a HBO documentary. Based on true and untrue stories, the show looks at depression in an open and honest light. Its unique theatrical form involves members of the audience. The show has received praise for its accessibility and insights into depression - a subject rarely discussed so openly.

Oliver, Haverhill Arts Centre, May 23-27

Come along and consider yourself part of the family with Centre Stage Company’s latest production. With one night already sold out and opening night just around the corner it’s a fine time to go and get your tickets.

Jonny and The Baptists - Eat The Poor, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, May 21

The hit musical comedy about inequality, friendship and revolution, it combines contemporary satire and inventive musical silliness with an epic personal story. Setting out to explore the gap between rich and poor, Jonny and The Baptists’ lives turn upside down when Jonny betrays Paddy for financial gain. As Jonny enjoys the high life with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jerry Hall, Paddy falls into homelessness and despair.

Nominated for five major awards - they’ve never won any - Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers are one of the UK’s hottest live musical comedy acts.

Paul Foot - Tis a Pity She’s a Piglet, The Avenue Theatre, Ipswich, May 19

Paul’s first new show in two years sees Professor Ketchup and his camembert piglet join forces as he tackles the big issues such as terrorism plus Ant and Dec, Immigration X-Factor and breakfast.

Flamenco Express, The Cut, Halesworth, May 20, 8pm

Show packed with raw, heart-wrenching flamenco with sizzling soloist La Joaquina, guitar virtuoso Chris Clavo, the vocal history of Antonio el Pola, plus the welcome return of the Sara Peréz, dance star of the hottest Madrid stages.

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