May 1, 2023

Summer premiere for seaside family drama

A tragedy-hit seaside family is trying to get life back on song through music in a new comedy drama premiering at Sheringham this summer.

Shanty is the story of a Cromer crab fisherman and his two daughters, all grieving after the sudden death of their wife and mum.

Their rebuilding journey, laced with music and humour born out of adversity, is explored by up-and-coming young playwright and poet James McDermott who lives near Holt.

“It is a drama drawing its comedy from the family’s attempts to form a band, the mess of grieving and being a young person clumsily trying to find a new way forward,” he explained.

Dad Brendan is struggling with his fishing business and faces having to sell his crab boat to a rival and work on the fish counter in Morrisons.

Eldest daughter Marina has dropped out of university after realising her emerging science career was her mother’s dream rather than hers.

Youngest daughter Shanty has lost her way, turns to music to find her voice – and persuades the rest of the family to form a band, with a first gig looming at Cromer Carnival.

James added: “I wrote Shanty during lockdown under the writing scheme by the Mercury Theatre in Colchester – but they could not develop the play, so I offered it to the Little Theatre which is the perfect place to launch it. I am really excited about it premiering at Sheringham.

“It’s also about trying to establish an East Anglian identity and voice. The North and London have theirs, but it’s harder to find something as distinctive for this area, capturing the feel of living on the coast, the slower pace of life, and self-deprecating humour.”

The drama, which features live music, sees James teaming up again with experienced West End director Marcus Romer, after working together on Ghosted – a pioneering youth drama performed on the seafront during 2021 – and with actor Meg Artherton who appeared in the show and is set to play Shanty.

Busy James is about to return to writing scripts for EastEnders, and is teaching creative writing at the UEA where he was once a student, as well as launching a new poetry book Wild Life during a national book tour from June to September.

Shanty runs from August 8-12 and is one of five shows in the theatre’s summer drama season.

The others are:

· I Am Hamlet (Jul 29-Aug 5), a comic thriller with fun and dark plot twists as a young actor auditions for the lead role in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

· Hound of the Baskervilles (Aug 15-19), a comedy spoof of the Sherlock Holmes moors murder.

· Run For Your Man (Aug 22-26), UK premiere of a new version of Ray Cooney’s classic farce Run For Your Wife.

· Private Lives (Aug 29-Sep 2), Noel Coward’s intimate comedy involving two mismatched couple.

For tickets and more information click here.

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