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Norwich theatre claims a piece of Shakespearean history

Jo Sessions as Violante, Max Rudd as Henriquez and Eleanor Hicks as Leonara in Maddermarket Theatre's production of

Jo Sessions as Violante, Max Rudd as Henriquez and Eleanor Hicks as Leonara in Maddermarket Theatre's production of "lost" Shakespeare play Double Falsehood.

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Norwich's Maddermarket Theatre believes it will claim a unique place in world theatre history next week when the curtain goes up on a "lost" play finally acknowledged to be the work of William Shakespeare.

"It’s a controversial play and it remains a controversial play even though it was published in Arden’s Shakespeare collection."

Director of Maddermarket Theatre’s production of Doubled Falsehood, Judi Daykin

The Norwich Players think their production of Double Falsehood will make them the first amateur company to have performed all the famous playwright’s known published plays – beating even the Royal Shakespeare Company to the accolade.

The company already thought it had been the first to achieve this feat in 1936.

However, the credentials of Double Falsehood were not officially endorsed by experts until last year, when the play was published in the Arden Shakespeare series following 300 years of controversy amid speculation that it was a hoax.

It was performed at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, London in 1727, when it was claimed to have been adapted from a lost Shakespeare play.

Scholars now believe it to be based on The History of Cardenio – a lost collaboration between Shakespeare and John Fletcher, based in turn on Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

Director of the Maddermarket’s production of Doubled Falsehood, Judi Daykin, said: “No one has ever disputed that we were the first when we thought we had done it the first time and we are definitely the only amateur group to have performed the whole of Shakespeare’s canon.

“It’s a controversial play and it remains a controversial play even though it was published in Arden’s Shakespeare collection.

“The Royal Shakespeare Company are starting a production of Double Falsehood later this year, so we have
beaten them, but there was a fringe production in London last year which generated a lot of interest.

“Some people say it is Shakespeare’s, some say it is not, but there is a guy at Nottingham University and he says it is through some quite academic studies, like the language, and he encouraged Arden to put it in the canon.”

Completion of the entire Shakespeare canon is a fitting way for the Norwich Players to mark the 100th anniversary of its launch in 1911, and the 90th anniversary of its move to the Maddermarket in 1921.

Set in Spain, it is a romantic tragi-comedy which tells of two brothers, one full of virtue, the other an aristocratic villain who pursues two women of vastly different backgrounds and of the friend he betrays.

Double Falsehood runs from Thursday, March 17 until Saturday, March 26, with performances daily at 7.30pm, and an additional 2.30pm matinee on March 26, although there is no performance on Sunday, March 20. Tickets cost £12, £10 and £8 and can be purchased from the box office by calling 01603 620917.

Do you know a local group who are putting on an unusual production? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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