Romance or ribaldry? The choice is yours as drama groups in Knebworth and Whitwell gear up for two very different shows

Georgina Bennet as Voluptua, Leanne Curtis as Suspenda, Mark Norman as Lurcio and Carris Wood as Er

Georgina Bennet as Voluptua, Leanne Curtis as Suspenda, Mark Norman as Lurcio and Carris Wood as Erotica in the Whitwell Players production of Up Pompeii, May 2016 - Credit: Archant

A restrained romance or a ribald romp? The choice is yours next week when two village drama groups present their next shows.

KATS in Knebworth present Tonight at 8: a Noel Coward double bill of one act plays at the village ha

KATS in Knebworth present Tonight at 8: a Noel Coward double bill of one act plays at the village hall, May 2016. Left to right are some of the cast from Still Life including Mildred (Frances Farrugia), Myrtle (Margaret Webb), Beryl (Maisie Sayer), Alec (Terry Grimwood), Albert (Chris Simson), Dolly (Nita Gowans), Soldier – Bill (Paul Hadden), Stanley (Ieuan Willoughby). Picture by Paul Munns - Credit: Archant

If romance is what you’re after, make your way to Knebworth where members of KATS will be presenting Tonight at Eight: A Noel Coward Double Bill in the village hall next Friday and Saturday night, May 13 and 14.

Brief Encounter, surely one of the best-loved romantic movies in film history, began life as a one-act play, Still Life.

That buttoned-up tale of repressed passion was part of the Tonight at 8:30 collection, and now theatre fans can see the original for themselves.

You can revisit the steamy railway buffet of the 1930s where Terry Grimwood and Lynsey Gammage play out the doomed affair made famous by Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson in the 1945 film.

Also on the bill is Ways and Means, a light comedy from the same series about a feckless but charming couple who flit from posh house to posh hoouse, making a precarious living through gambling until their luck starts running out.

Tickets are £7 (£6 concessions) and include home-made cake in the interval. You can get them from Village News in Station Road, Knebworth, or from Jo Simson (01438 814166, 07952 199183, jo.simson@ntlworld.com).

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Down the road things look a sight more raunchy for the Whitwell Players, who are staging their take on saucy TV hit Up Pompeii.

The show opens next Thursday and runs until the Saturday at the New Fellowship Hall, Whitwell, with curtain up at 8pm.

Director Sue Carter said: “The play is based on the original characters devised for the Frankie Howerd comedy.

“We have had enormous fun preparing for this performance.

“It is a wonderful mix of panto and farce and is guaranteed to raise a smile, as well as the roof.”

The play was originally written at Howerd’s request by one of his writers, Miles Tredinnick, long after the original TV show had gone off in 1970.

But the master of mock outrage and innuendo never performed in it – he went on to another project and the script gathered dust until comparitively recently, when it was updated and finally had a theatrical premiere in 2011.

It’s fast becoming a favourite with drama groups because of its broad comedy and ‘bums on seats’ appeal.

To make sure of your seat, visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/whitwellplayers.

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