Ipswich: New Wolsey Swedish crime spoof Inspector Norse will leave you in stitches

Sue Ryding and Maggie Fox of LipService perform Scandinavian crime spoof Inspector Norse at Ipswich

Sue Ryding and Maggie Fox of LipService perform Scandinavian crime spoof Inspector Norse at Ipswichs New Wolsey Theatre. - Credit: Archant

Not many plays can boast of having an autopsy live on stage. Entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE talks to Sue Ryding of award-winning comedy duo LipService about new show Inspector Norse.

Moose on the loose during LipService's Inspector Norse, which features a knitted set and props

Moose on the loose during LipService's Inspector Norse, which features a knitted set and props - Credit: Archant

Sue and Maggie Fox’s self-assembly Swedish crime thriller literally knits together everything we love about Scandinavia, from The Killing and Stieg Larsson to shopping at IKEA and dancing to Abba.

“It’s unusual. We’ve got a partially knitted set. We’ve had people all over the country knitting things to be in the show and there’s been quite a few groups and shops in and around Ipswich involved,” she says.

“We have a knitted house, interior, telephone, candlesticks, pictures on the wall, a fireplace and flames, leaves, icicles, cats and little mice and even a coffee pot that pours knitted coffee. We also have a knitted autopsy, so we’ve got a knitted dead body and knitted vital organs which is quite good fun.”

Ex-pop star recluse Freya is distracted from her meatballs by a hairy Nordic stranger walking across the frozen wastes. Days later a man is found dead in a barn nearby with a walking pole stuck in his forehead.

Enter Inspector Sandra Larsson in her trusty rustic knitwear and her less trusty sidekick Erik.

With her own personal life unravelling before our eyes she must deal with a 1970s’ Swedish glam rock band, The Northern Lights, several trolls and drunken moose as she follows the pattern of a mystery with many holes.

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Sue and Maggie both love Scandinavian crime fiction and went to Sweden last Easter to research the show.

“There were lots of knitting displays in shop windows; this whole knitting thing is huge in Scandinavia so we thought we need to incorporate that somehow into a Scandinavian crime thing and also because of Sarah Lund’s iconic jumper in The Killing.”

Sue admits they didn’t know what they’d taken on at first.

“Part of us thought well maybe it’s a bit niche, Scandinavian crime fiction; maybe not that many people actually watch it. We had no idea how the knitting thing would take off but it’s become huge. Knitting is really trendy at the moment, there are all these yarn bombing groups around who knit in parks and do all kinds of mad things. As soon as we put the word out there, people picked it up instantly.”

Sue hadn’t picked the needles up for years but, after setting up a knitting group at a Manchester tea shop last summer to see if the idea had legs, was amazed at how quickly it came back.

“It’s really relaxing and you get to meet new people. We like to think it’s creating new theate audiences. We opened in Blackpool and had a knitting group there. Lots of people hadn’t been to the theatre in years got involved through that then came to the show and they loved it, saying ‘ooh, we must go to the theatre more often’.”

Sue and Maggie - who play every character, including non-humans - say newcomers to Nordic noir will still enjoy the show.

“There’s lots of physical humour, sight gags and you’ll pick it up. If you’ve read things like The Girl With trilogy or you’ve seen things like The Killing there are additional jokes in there.

“We always hope we do something new every time, yes it’s a literary spoof like lots of our shows have been but the knitting is new, there’s a fantastic car that appears in the show too so it’s worth coming for that alone.”

There’s still time to knit something for the show.

“We ask people to knit a leaf as we decorate a tree in the interval and transform the landscape with them. We’ve got a page on our website which lists the things you could knit if you fancied it and patterns.”

Inspector Norse runs at Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre, March 5-7. For knitting ideas and patterns visit www.lip-service.net/knitting. Read the review online tomorrow.

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