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Frivolity and Thrills in Frinton This Summer

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Frinton is a very special Essex seaside town. It’s main heyday was in the 1920s and 30s when it attracted luminaries from both high society and show business, but it has continued to attract both residents and holiday-makers alike with its tree-lined avenues, immaculate greensward and sun-shimmering beach huts. Its summer theatre season this year – 13 July to 28 August – is the 70th. Many actors who are now very well-known started their careers here and it must be one of the few remaining places carrying on the tradition of staging a new professional show each week. Real repertory theatre, in fact.

The opening production is Charles Ludlum’s The Mystery of Irma Vepp, a pastiche of late Victorian melodrama and runs until Saturday. It’s followed on 21 July by by John Ford Noonan, which (from the advance publicity) seems not a million miles away from Desperate Housewives. Another American comedy begins its week’s run on 26 July; this is Neil Simon’s Come Blow Your Horn; its director is Anthony Clark, the Hampstead Theatre’s outgoing artistic director.

From Colchester-based actor and writer Patrick Marlowe comes a new thriller. The Box is about a young couple whose new home in the country is invaded by a strange old man. It runs for the week beginning 3 August. Marc Camolletti produced a strong of frothy comedies which adapted well to the West End stage in the 1960s and 1970s. Changing Rooms in a version by Jonathan Holloway and Anthony Wood will receive its UK première on 10 August and is in the same vein as Boeing Boeing or Don’t Dress for Dinner – extra-marital affairs which don’t quite work out as intended.

Living Together is the middle section of Alan Ayckbourn’s ground-breaking trilogy of 1974 – The Norman Conquests; Table Manners was staged last year and this overlapping segment shows some of the fallout from inept Norman’s attempted seduction of Annie. Unravel the goings-on from 17 August. The last show of the season, opening on 24 August, is a double-bill. Lunch hour by John Mortimer dates from 1961 and The Twelve-Pound Look by J M Barrie from 1910. Both concern couples whose view of each other is challenged by information revealed by a third party.

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