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New show looks at why Will Kempe danced from London to Norwich

14:15 05 June 2014

Charmed Life

Charmed Life's production of Hey Jig-a-Jig! An encounter between Will Kempe (Peter Long) and Marian, a country lass (Beth Keys-Holloway).


Elizabethan comic actor Will Kempe famously danced from London to Norwich in 1600, and this week a Norfolk company is bringing his story to the stage.

Charmed Life's production of Hey Jig-a-Jig! Will Kempe (Peter Long) and his two travelling companions Will Bee (Matt Bruty) and Thomas Slye (Mark Burridge) take a well earned rest.Charmed Life's production of Hey Jig-a-Jig! Will Kempe (Peter Long) and his two travelling companions Will Bee (Matt Bruty) and Thomas Slye (Mark Burridge) take a well earned rest.

Hey Jig-a-Jig!, a new play written by Pat Quorn and produced by Bungay-based theatre company Charmed Life, is described as a hilarious take on why Kempe decided to dance 125 miles from London to Norwich.

A plaque on the wall of Norwich’s Maddermarket Theatre marks the spot where Kempe - one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries - ended his madcap Nine Daies Wonder, and Hey Jig-a-Jig! will be performed at the city venue on Sunday as part of the show’s tour.

Ahead of the Maddermarket performance, Hey Jig-a-Jig! will be at the Fisher Theatre, in Bungay on Friday and Saturday. It will also be performed in Diss, Halesworth, Lowestoft and Hoxne this month.

Cathy Gill, Hey Jig-a-Jig!’s director, said: “The show is packed full of irreverent, bawdy humour, much singing and of course jigging – authentic Shakespeare but with modern twists and turns thrown in. The music, written by local composer Alan Huckle, is lovely too. While there are elements of the Elizabethan Jig here and there, the majority of the music draws on more modern themes – music hall, vaudeville, even blues – like the play itself it is an intriguing and eclectic mix.”

She added: “We loved the script from the moment we first read it – it’s very rare for a play to make you laugh out loud in the opening sentences.

“But Hey Jig-a-Jig! is more than just a romp through the life and times of Will Kempe and the machinations and conflicts of the Elizabethan theatre. We see Kempe as the first in a long line of troubled comic geniuses – those rare people who have a natural ability to make people laugh but who also have a darker, sadder side.”

Charmed Life was formed by Diana Cook, Cathy Gill and Hilary Mason following the success of their fundraising show Behind the Big Blue Doors… the Life and Times of the Fisher Theatre which raised more than £2,500 for the Fisher Theatre last year. Hey Jig-a-Jig! is the company’s first tour.

Hey Jig-a-Jig! is at: the Fisher Theatre, Bungay, this Friday and Saturday; the Maddermarket Theatre on Sunday; Diss Corn Hall on Thursday, June 12; The Cut, in Halesworth, on Saturday, June 14; The Seagull Theatre, in Lowestoft, on Friday, June 20; and St Edmunds Hall, in Hoxne, on Saturday, June 21.

Details of times, tickets and how to book are available through each venue’s box office except for Hoxne where the tickets are available via the Fisher Theatre, in Bungay.

The show is suitable for people aged 14 and over.

For more about Charmed Life follow @CharmedLife1 on Twitter and find Charmed Life Productions on Facebook.

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