REVIEW: Jerusalem, Maddermarket

Jerusalem, Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich Players

The Norwich Players production of Jez Butterworth’s acclaimed play, Jerusalem, shocks and jolts from the opening scenes.

The powerful play has a charismatic rebel as its central character, who is against all middle England society holds sacred.

Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron is a man living his life on the edge of society in a clearing in a wood. He lives in a caravan and deals in, and is often high on, drugs and alcohol. His lifestyle is a magnet for a group of young people who society has given up on

Rooster is played by Nick Meir, who gives a performance that is disturbing and also very moving. He believes in the spirits that live and have lived in the mythical past in the woodland of his home in Wiltshire. His existence in the forest is under threat as the local council want him gone so they can cover his wood with a new housing estate and they are making plans to evict him.

There is also the annual village fair held on St George’s Day which is the climax of his struggles and battles with the council and the group that surrounds him.

This is a production which questions whether an alternative lifestyle can exist along side the commonplace and it is very skilfully played by the cast. The energy, enthusiasm and talent makes this a compelling production.

The play is running at the Maddermarket Theatre until Saturday (March 24).

Kevin and Sandra Stone

REVIEW: Relatively Speaking, Maddermarket Theatre

The Norwich Players put on a great performance on Friday (February 16),  giving the Maddermarket audience plenty of laughs.

Relatively Speaking, which runs until Saturday (24th)  is one of Alan Ayckbourn’s earliest successes, but this production has been updated from the original 1960s to the early 1980s by director Jo Edye.

The action centres on the lives of two couples, both of whom share a dark secret that they don’t realise is connected.

The four actors, Teresa Baron who plays Ginny, Rohan Gotobed who plays Greg, Russell J Turner who plays Philip and Jo Davis who plays Shiela, interact with great skill and superb comedy timing.

The twists and turns in the play tie the characters in hilarious knots, which has the audience laughing as they work their way out of the muddles they get into.

A surprising and inspired interlude was the first scene change, which had a strong 1980s feel with the hit songs from the era, and four women in 1980s dress, who managed the scene change in true and comical style. Fabulous.

A great night and a great performance by the Norwich Players.

The play runs until Saturday. For tickets, call the box office on 01603 620917 or see


Kevin and Sandra Stone

“I beamed, I cried, and I laughed” Review of The Band

Any girl will remember growing up idolising their favourite boy band, and as a 90’s kid I was definitely up there with the fangirls for the likes of the most successful boyband of all time, Take That.

Award winning writer Tim Firth has created a story that goes through all the want and need to see and meet your favourite icons, featuring the Take That classics including Back for Good, Rule the World, Shine and Never Forget to name but a few.

The band performing the hits, Five to Five, were the winners of the BBC show Let it Shine which was a competition for find the perfect members of the band for this show.

Unfortunately, one of the boys was unable to perform so Harry Brown joined AJ, Curtis, Sario and Nick. The boys all did a great job and are very talented singers and dancers.

The story follows a group of teenage girls, that reunite 25 years later and make it their mission to finally fulfil their desires to see their favourite band. It was great that they were able to highlight how life can end up so differently to how you had planned it as a 16 year old. Proving that at the end of the day, a strong friendship really can pull through anything.

I knew this show was going to make me feel nostalgic and bring back all the feelings of an excitable teenager, and it did not disappoint. I beamed, I cried, and I laughed, as well as felt every word from the songs, just as I did back in the day.

The young girls were completely relatable and I could definitely pin point which one of those girls was me when I was that age. All performed brilliantly.

Big shout out to Andy Williams who played ‘Every Dave’, popping up in so many scenes with small but absolutely hilarious moments.

The final scene had everyone in the theatre up dancing and singing, no matter who they were, it was simply impossible to resist.

If you are lucky enough to get tickets to this popular show, do! It’ll leave you grinning from ear to ear singing a long to all the old but never forgotten songs you know and love.

The show is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday 17th February – get your tickets here:

Amie Croxton
Just Regional

LtoR AJ Bentley, Curtis T Johns, Sario Solomon, Yazdan Qafouri and Nick Carsberg in The Band. PICTURE: Matt Crockett

Rigoletto – live from the Royal Opera House (in Sheringham)

Sheringham Little Theatre is giving opera lovers the chance to see one of Verdi’s best, live from Covent Garden at an encore matinee showing on Sunday, January 21.

Although premiered in 1851 in Venice, the storyline could have been written for today’s cinema and is packed with memorable and well-known melodies and a thriller-like plot combining corruption and lust with love, intrigue, revenge and tragedy.

If you love La Traviata, La Boheme and Madama Butterfly you will love Rigoletto and for the best seat in the house at Covent Garden it would cost you £185 (at the time of writing almost every seat is sold), whereas the best view of the performance is the relay at the Little Theatre where a seat will cost you £15. The show starts at 2pm.

Book on 01263 822347 or choose your seat online at

Youngsters take on new show for latest performance

Talented youngsters will be taking on a new show when Norfolk Youth Music Theatre stages its latest production.
Director Adrian ConnelI was recently tipped off about a show, The Battle of the Boat, that had just been written and was yet unpublished. It had some performances by the National YMT at the Rose Theatre in London to trial it.
He said: “After contacting Ethan Maltby, the composer, to discuss performing the show I realised we had both gone to the same school and Ethan grew up three miles from where I did. It also turned out that I had been his chaperone in Edinburgh in the 1980s when he was a 16-year-old percussionist in the National YMT playing for Whistle Down the Wind. I knew his mother and a trombonist who regularly plays for the Norfolk YMT had played for the Rose Theatre production of The Battle of Boat.”
(The cast includes Aylsham High student Eleanor Diss, from Briggate, Isobel Holroyd, from Aldborough, Megan Howlett, from North Walsham and Mabel White, Aylsham.)
The Battle of Boat is a courageous tale of a group of children trying to find their place in a world at war in 1916. Frustrated by their inability to join the soldiers in battle, the children decide to do whatever it takes to help in the war effort.
However, they soon have to tackle their own conflict in the form of a local gang of bullies who will stop at nothing to see every plan they form fail.
Adrian said: “It’s heartwarming, funny, emotional and exciting and a true celebration of the steadfast British spirit that shone through during WW1.”
The script uses the language and emotions that young children use, particularly from the wartime era. It’s deliberately simple and littered with the nonsense youngsters get up to. Despite its innocence the music is extremely difficult.
Maltby and co-writer Jenna Donnelly began their writing partnership in 2010 with a commissioned piece for the opening of the Kent Youth Games. They went on to write the percussion-musical DrumChasers in 2011, narrated by Stephen Fry.
The show will run November 1-4 at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, 7.30pm nightly, with a 2.30pm matinee on the Saturday. Tickets are £12, concessions available.
Norfolk YMT is taking the show to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018.

REVIEW: Dancing at Lughnasa, Maddermarket

Dancing at Lughnasa, a play by Brian Friel and performed by Norwich Players, had its opening night on Friday at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich.

The action takes place in Donegal, a remote corner of rural Eire, on a warm day in August 1936. It centres on the five Mundy sisters, the aunts and mother of seven-year-old Michael, in the house they all share near the small town of Ballybeg.

Life is very simple, the sisters live a hard but on the surface a satisfying life. The outside world is brought into their lives with a radio they nickname Marconi.

While Marconi’s battery lasts, the sisters enjoy music, dancing and the popular songs of the day. They are enthusiastic dancers and need little prompting to fling with joyous abandonment around the small kitchen. Then, two men come back into the quiet lives of the Mundy sisters – Father Jack, the priest who is their older brother and has been in Uganda for most of the lives of the sisters and, briefly, Gerry the father of Michael. Lughnasa is the name of the celebrations surrounding the bringing of the harvest home.

It has pagan roots mixed in with the rituals of the Catholic church, with which they conflict. The story of the action is strung together by the older Michael , Philip Rowe, who narrates from his memory of the time but as he also knows what the future held for all the characters its tinged with sadness and some regret. Altogether an unusual production which had us thinking about events long after the evening had ended. Well done Norwich Players a sensitive portrayal of an unusual drama.

Kevin and Sandra Stone

If you’re after a show that has everything, this is for you.

Norwich Theatre Royal hosts Willy Russell’s award-winning, long-running musical, Blood Brothers.

It follows the story of twin brothers, Eddie and Mickey, who were separated at birth during the 1960’s in Liverpool.

Their lives were at opposite ends of the spectrum, one being raised by a wealthy middle-class family ¬- and the other in a life of trouble and poverty. One of the brothers has an amazing life of luxury, while the other has very little to his name. Having grown up as friends but never known about each other, they find themselves realising the truth in a devastating twist of fate.

The cast remained the same throughout, playing the characters from 7 years old (or nearly 8 according to Mickey), right through to adulthood. Cleverly showing the vulnerability of being a carefree child, to the severity of having to deal with adult life.

Sean Jones (Mickey) and Mark Hutchinson (Eddie) played the roles of the boys, with all ages of the characters being executed in a realistic and moving way, showing a real contrast.

Lyn Paul played the twins mother, Mrs Johnstone, and had a real motherly presence throughout, not to mention her amazing vocal talents that suited this character perfectly.

Dean Chisnall narrated the show, with the most captivating vocals. Although he was subtle with his stage presence, he was always there to tell the story in a demanding way. A real star of the show for me.

The minimal set had everything it needed to set the scene and show contrast between the boy’s lives.

Blood Brothers was the first show I ever saw in London’s West End as a school girl and it has made a huge impact on me ever since, it gave me my love for musicals. Nearly 20 years later, I was hopeful that it would make as much of an impact on me now as it did back then, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The story of nature vs nurture develops in a wonderful yet heart breaking way. It will strike a chord with anyone, no matter what age or background, there is something for everyone to take away from this story.

If you’re after a show that has everything, this is for you. From laugh out loud moments, to touching scenes with tear jerking devastation. There is no other show like this. Not one person still in their seat as it came to an end, and I’m sure not a dry eye in the house.

Blood Brothers will be running at Norwich Theatre Royal from now until 23 September.

Tickets available here

Amie Croxton

Go behind scenes at the Auden, Holt, this weekend

The Auden Theatre at Gresham’s School in Holt is hosting an Invitation Day on Saturday, September 23, to give people a look behind the scenes.

Members of the public are invited to explore the venue and discover what goes on backstage, meet some of the theatre team and learn just what it takes to put on a great show. The event is free.

The team will be giving a guided tour of the theatre, including the dressing rooms which have played host to an array of local, national and international performers including Lesley Garrett, CBE and the late Sir John Hurt. There will also be complimentary refreshments.

The Auden Theatre hosts a diverse range of events and performances from rock concerts to pantomime and is open to the public all year round.  View the full programme at

The foyer will be open from 11am and theatre tours start at 11.30am and 2pm. Email with a preferred tour time or telephone 01263 713444.