Comedy duo Lip Service - Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding - bring their new show Inspector Norse to The Roses theatre in Tewkesbury
TO escape the drone of celebrity life, reclusive former pop star Freya takes herself off to a house in Sweden where everything is knitted, right down to the tiles on the roof.
In this rural, woollen, winter scene, she notices a stranger in a fur hat stroll across the vast landscape, holding a chisel, and this is where the fun begins. A few days later, a man is found dead with a bizarre message across his forehead – cue Inspector Sandra Larsson.
With her life unravelling before her eyes and wearing her own authentic knitwear, Sandra comes into this knitted Swedish thriller to solve the murder.
With multi award-winning comedy duo Lip Service – Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding – as the cast, this Nordic comedy thriller promises to weave a web of mystery that will have you in stitches and leave your nerves clanging.
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Inspector Norse is on for one night only, at The Roses theatre in Tewkesbury next Wednesday.
"The production came from our love of Scandinavian crime fiction," said Sue.
"We both read the Dragon Tattoo books, plus some more obscure Scandinavian authors. We loved The Killing because it has a woman as the central character and one who doesn't care what she looks like.
"You wouldn't get that on British TV, she'd be glammed up. We decided we wanted to do our own crime story and went off to Sweden to research it. "
What they found in Sweden was lots of shops with knitting displays in the windows.
"This, plus the fuss over the iconic Sarah Lund jumper made us think we could combine the two elements in a show," says Sue.
She reckons the best thing about Inspector Norse is that the story is the least important element.
"There's a plot of sorts, which makes some kind of sense, but generally it's the comedy that rules," she says. "There are a lot of sight gags, some brilliant moose puppets and a few trolls."
Writing together since 1985, Maggie and Sue have produced 16 original comedies for the stage and have their own comedy series on BBC Radio 4.
"Maggie and I discovered each other at university in Bristol and realised we were both funny. We started doing stand-up on the alternative cabaret circuit in London and soon realised we would have to generate all our own material," says Sue. "I love working with Maggie because we both go off script quite a bit, so it is very live for that audience that night. We feed off each other and it's a bit like two kids playing.
"Sometimes people come up and say that we have made them so happy, they might have been experiencing a bad time in their lives, bereavement, redundancy, whatever, but we've made them laugh and taken them out of themselves. Laughter is such a cathartic experience."
They are always eager to include the local community in their work and set up a Tea Hive in Chorlton so knitting fanatics could contribute to their set. Sue said: "We decided to include knitting because of the sheer volume of yarn bombers and knitting groups springing up at the moment. There is an incredible craft bush telegraph out there. No sooner had we put out the word than people were on to it."
Sue and Maggie set up an interactive page on their website with patterns and a list of the things they needed. They were inundated with items from all over the country.
"We've some brilliant things from Gloucestershire," Sue says.
"We even have a knitted autopsy with knitted vital organs, which is very funny."
Maggie and Sue have appeared in Coronation Street, Shameless, The Forsyte Saga and How Do You Want Me? But their main inspiration comes from childhood memories.
They love the gentle comedy of Morecambe and Wise, Joyce Grenfell, Victoria Wood.
"We like comedians who create characters," says Sue.
Which surely they are. And anyway, any production inspired by a woolly jumper worn by a character in a TV series is unmissable.
Tickets cost £7-£13 from 01684 295074. You can contribute to their knitted set by visiting http://www.lipservicetheatre.co.uk/knitting