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The Sword in the Stone review at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich – ‘hugely entertaining’

The Sword in the Stone at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak The Sword in the Stone at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Part panto, part West End-style musical, part superior tribute band gig, the New Wolsey’s rock’n’roll pantomime has become something of an East Anglian institution during the past 15 years.

The Sword in the Stone, writer-director Peter Rowe’s new addition to the theatre’s festive line-up, tells the story of Sprout, a bashful foundling, who under the guidance of Merlin becomes King Arthur.

The top notch cast seamlessly integrate a dozen pop classics into the performance while also delivering some breathless physical comedy.

The set, designed by Barney George, is a masterpiece which, through curtains and revolving panels, whisks the cast from forest to castle to a dragon’s lair, while the lighting by Richard G Jones conjures up a concert stage and atmospheric landscapes.

Peter Rowe keeps the pace racing along and delivers some wonderful comedy moments, while not undermining the power of some true pop classics from artists as diverse as Queen, Take That and Edwin Starr.

Stand-out performances are delivered by Sean Kingsley as Merlin, Georgina White as Morgan Le Fay, Steve Simmonds as Mordred and Lucy Wells as Guinevere. Graham Kent works the audience well as Dame Bernadette Broadbottom.

A jewel in the New Wolsey’s rock’n’roll crown.

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A hugely entertaining twist on the King Arthur legend which works brilliantly thanks to excellent writing and energetic performances from a talented cast