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Key Openings in the South-East This Fortnight

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Country matters and seaside pleasures are the themes for this last fortnight of July.

Opening 19 July. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at the Chichester Minerva Theatre runs until 26 August. It’s a new adaptation by Howard Brenton of Robert Tressell’s 1914 novel about the plight of workers whose precarious livelihoods are threatened by their employers seeking always to cut costs. The play is a co-production with the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatres.

Opening 19 July. Calendar Girls at the Norwich Theatre Royal until 24 July. This re-cast production returns to the theatre where it sold out last year. Gemma Craven, Charlie Dimmock (yes – the gardening lady of television fame) and Hannah Waterman are the leading players in this fact-based story of Women’s Institute members and a very special fund-raising initiative. It can also be seen in Cambridge and Southampton later in the autumn.

Opening 20 July. A Couple of White Chicks Sitting Around Talking by John Ford Noonan at the Frinton Summer Theatre until 24 July is about two very different housewives in rural America, one apparently content with her comfortable and somewhat placid life and the other a brash incomer. Not all confidences exchanged over coffee are necessarily shared wisely.

Opening 21 July. The Country Girl at the Windsor Theatre Royal until 31 July, then for the following week at the Richmond Theatre. This is the Clifford Odets 1950 play, written towards the end of his life and concerned with a love triangle at whose apex is an alcoholic actor struggling to make a come-back. The cast includes Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove and the major national tour is planned to culminate with a season from early October in the West End.

Opening 21 July. My Hamlet at the Palace Theatre Watford until 23 July. The story is about a theatre cleaner (Linda Marlowe) who finds the cast of a just-ended performance of Hamlet coming to a different sort of life in the form of puppets. It’s from Fingers Theatre of Tbilisi in Georgia, directed by Beso Kupreishvili and is heading towards Edinburgh, so it’s definitely one for pre-festival success spotters.

Opening 22 July. Dangerous Obsession at the Southwold Summer Theatre until 31 July before transferring down the Suffolk coast to Aldeburgh. The title of this N J Crisp thriller tells you as much as you need to know before venturing into the theatre. Not perhaps for the most squeamish among us…

Opening 24 July. Peppa Pig’s Party at the Dartford Orchard Theatre for two days, then at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing for 28 and 29 July and at Aldershot’s Prince’s Hall on 31 July and 1 August. If you’ve children of a certain age you’ll be under considerable pressure to take them to this.

Opening 27 July. Come Blow Your Horn is one of those now-classic comedies by Neil Simon and at the Frinton Summer Theatre until 31 July. It takes a wry look at what happens to relationships when children take the plunge and finally leave the parental home. Peace and quiet ensues? Perhaps not.

Opening 28 July. The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe at the Norwich Theatre Royal until 31 July is a sort of prequel to Defoe’s well-known story. It’s a family entertainment which sees our hero chased by pirates, sold into slavery and buying an estate in the Americas. Nor is Man Friday quite what you might expect if you only know the story from the original book or its real-life source material.


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