Director Simon Floyd set himself and his cast an ambitious challenge with this production which brings to life the human stories of migrants in Norwich over the centuries.
In a country dominated by a tabloid agenda of division and distrust it is timely to be reminded just how our contemporary society is shaped by years of migration and mixing, and basing the play on the stories of our Norwich community is a stroke of genius.
A series of separate anecdotes, sketches and songs could be rather messy, but this ensemble is brought together by the peroration of Professor Kirby-Bedon, perhaps better know as Owen Evans, the Bottom half of the Nimmo Twins. Owen steers the sketches along as a narrator, coincidentally enabling him to give the occasional helpful prompt when excitement leaves a star temporarily speechless.
The Common Lot, the company who made this show, have a clear mission to produce free theatre that is relevant and accessible and as with their last show about Ketts Rebellion they have succeeded handsomely. There are many tales of the warm welcome given to new families arriving in Norwich over the centuries, including notable groups like the Flemish weavers and the Italian diaspora and sadly there are one or two tales of hysteria and suspicion, whipped up by agitators, leading to death and persecution.
Norwich has much to be proud of as a welcoming community and this show will serve as a reminder of how much better life can be for all of us if we welcome strangers into our midst. The show is packed with content, and could overwhelm if it were not for the lively style of presentation. The Professor on one side binds the show together, as does another recurring character with Eve Pandolfi playing ‘The Old Gal’, a sort of Norwich Everywoman who is initially a bit suspicious but ends up captivated by the incomers.
Along the way some famous Norwich characters get an airing from Noverre (of Assembly House and cinema fame) to the fabulous Black Anna, who ran the Jolly Butchers pub on Ber Street as well as singing her heart out there and running a common lodging house (at very reasonable rates) too. There is even a singing Mayor.

The show brings a nice reference to our biggest invisible diaspora – all those UEA students who came to the city and never got round to leaving again!

The poster for Come Yew In

The music composed by Charlie Caine and Xavier Mathey (a recent migrant from France) is a delight, as is the contribution from The Come Yew In Choir who are Year 5 pupils from Avenues Junior School, who sing their own compositions to the enormous delight of the audience which in this Heigham Park setting may just possibly include a Mum and Dad or two.
There is a quiz for the audience about some well known Norwich descendants, with choccie prizes and a homage to the multicultural Norwich gem that is Magdalen Street today, not to mention the hit “Love Bomb’ by the almost boy band Wrong Direction.
The late Jo Cox said ‘We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than that which divides us’. The Common Lot show the truth of this claim for our Norwich community with this heartwarming show, which is great fun and joyfully executed. It is being performed all around the city in the next week, so make sure you catch the show and be proud to raise your voice as a member of the community of the fine city of Norwich.
© Julian Swainson 2017
Listing:
Come Yew In is being performed all over the city – attendance is free although there is a collection at the end if you wish to contribute to Common Lot and their refugee charities.
Sunday 2 July – Cow Tower – 2.30
Tuesday 4 July – Peterson Park Mile Cross – 7.30
Wednesday 5 July – Cadge Road Community Centre – 7.30
Thursday 6 July – Jubilee Park Lakenham – 7.30
Friday 8 July – Whiffler Theatre, Castle Gardens – 7.30
Saturday 8 July – Whiffler Theatre – 1.00
Sunday 9 July – Whiffler Theatre – 2.30
Looking for more interesting theatre in Norwich? Take a look here: http://norwicheye.co.uk/whats-on/baroque-theatre-company-bringing-all-female-comedy-to-maddermarket-theatre/ and on the subject of immigration: http://norwicheye.co.uk/politics/norwich-eye-review-border-control-by-hack-theatre-at-the-nac/