17 January 2022

Rachel’s Theatre Challenge Tour 2022

By Rachel Sloane

I have counted twenty-six theatres in Suffolk and this year I plan to visit them all, at least once. 

In 1998 I visited every theatre in Suffolk over 12 months, reporting on its history, enjoying a different type of production, and making features about each one for BBC Radio Suffolk where I was a presenter at the time.  Some no longer exist – for example, the lovely little Eye Theatre where it was like sitting in some-one’s front room, nor the Unicorn Theatre, tucked behind an Ipswich pub of the same name. There are luckily some new ones too, for example, The Cut at Halesworth and The Avenue Theatre in Ipswich.

On social media and on this website, I will write about each theatre and the production I see there. The Monday night arts and entertainment programme, on BBC Radio Suffolk and BBC Radio Norfolk, presented by Georgy Jamieson, will also have a monthly update covering where I have been and what I have planned for the next few weeks.  Then, in Suffolk Norfolk Life in January 2022, I will report back on how my self-imposed challenge went. 

The twenty-six theatres I’ve counted include Dance East in Ipswich and Beccles Public Hall, but not the numerous village and church halls that companies such as Eastern Angles tour to. I must draw the line somewhere… but I am happy to be reminded of any unmissable theatres I have missed!

Of course, Norfolk has also has some very good theatres and theatre groups, but travelling the distances from my home in Felixstowe to the far reaches of Suffolk will be enough of a challenge for now. I am afraid the theatres of Norfolk are going to have to wait until the future, perhaps when I am staying in the county. Meanwhile, wish me luck, look out for me next time you are at a Suffolk theatre, and follow my progress online and on-air.

I had already booked for the ‘Queen Extravaganza’ at the Regent Theatre in Ipswich, (21st January) but that has been postponed. My fingers are tightly crossed that covid doesn’t cause my challenge to stall! My first theatre trip now Saturday 22nd January, when I will see ‘Sherlock Holmes Meets Count Dracula’, performed by the Common Ground Theatre Company. The final performance of their tour, I will see at the Gallery Studio, Ipswich which I haven’t been to since Gallery Players took over the old Wolsey Studio in Ipswich. Look out for my review on this website.

Also booked is ‘Insert Laughter Here’ at Fisher Theatre, Bungay (23rd March), and ‘9-5’ at The Players Theatre in Lowestoft (21st May).

 Another 23 to go! 

(The full article appeared in Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine, January 2022)