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Chills and comedy – with a dash of fantasy – for 2012 in Bury St Edmunds

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Another world première is to be staged at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, following in the hoofbeats of Dick Turpin. Stagefright has been written by Michael Punter and concerns one of the most interesting theatre partnerships of the late 19th century – the professional relationship between Sir Henry Irving and his business manager (author of Dracula) Bram Stoker. Both men had Celtic origins; Irving came from Cornwall and Stoker from Ireland.

The theatre’s artistic director Colin Blumenau directs and, as befits the theme, there are special illusions created by Ben Hart. 9-18 February are the dates on which you can discover more. It’s preceded by the Out of Joint and Chichester Festival production of Top Girls between 31 January and 4 February and followed from 16 to 17 March by London Classic Theatre well-received revival of Peter Shaffer’s Equus and then by The Hound of the Baskervilles, bounding in from 20 to 24 March from the Oldham Coliseum and imitating the dog (that's a theatre company, by the way, not a comment).

Staying with Conan Doyle (more or less), there’s Move Over Moriarty by LipService on 27 and 28 March. You can also catch The Cheap Flights Tour with Fascinating Aida on 29 February, take a new view of classic Greek tragedy with Spymonkey’s Oedipussy on 5 and 6 March and get caught up in the French Revolution on 5 April with Gonzo Moose and I’m an Aristocrat, Get Me Out of Here!.

The improvised musical Showstoppers is on 3 March and Opera della Luna returns on 8 and 9 March with a new production of Lehár’s The Merry Widow Ballet Black is a favourite company with Theatre Royal audiences and presents two mixed bills on 39 and 30 March, including the première of Christopher Hampson’s Storyville. The ever-popular Barber of Seville is updated to take place in modern Spain but with an English landowner in pursuit of Rosina for Impact Opera by Peter Knapp. It runs from 19 to 21 April.

For younger audiences there’s Gomito’s Woodland in community venues from between 14 and 18 February and a major co-production between TheatreAlibi, Exeter’s Northcott Theatre and the Oxford Playhouse of The Crowstarver from the book by Dick King-Smith from 10 to 13 April. That’s not forgetting the pantomime, of course, which continues until 15 January (Dick Whittington is this year’s show).

The popular Restoring the Repertoire sequence, which now records its script-in-hand presentations, offers Thomas Morton’s 1800 bucolic comedy Speed the Plough on 26 January, Elizabeth Inchbold’s Lovers’ Vows of 1795 (this is her Kotzebue adaptation so pivotal to the plot of Mansfield Park) on 7 March and Susannah Centlivre’s A Bold Stroke For a Wife on 18 April – this 1718 comedy was first read in the 2007 series.


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