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Festival to highlight amateur theatre's finest

Barbara Goulden

A seven-day celebration of the very best of Britain's amateur theatre productions is coming to The Albany in Coventry in a festival that runs from July 18 to July 24.

The event is organised by the National Drama Festivals' Association and all the productions have already been chosen as winners in their different categories: One Act, Youth and Full-Length plays.

The amateur companies come from Surrey, Worcester, Cheshire, Northampton and various other locations. But one play has the least distance to travel. On opening night, members of the Criterion Theatre, just up the road from The Albany, will be recreating their highly-acclaimed performance of Queers - The Monologues.

This is a series of speeches composed by various writers but put together by professional actor Mark Gatiss, the co-creator of the television series Sherlock. Fans of Sherlock might remember that Gatiss plays the detective's mysterious older brother, Mycroft Holmes.

Another local contender will be Stratford-upon-Avon favourites, Caramba who will perform an episode of the 1970s sit-com Steptoe and Son, on July 22.

Full details of the other performances are all online but on the closing day, July 24, there will be a conference on diversity and inclusion in UK amateur theatres.

That evening tickets are available for two one-act plays followed by a prize-giving ceremony attended by local West End legend Dave Willetts - once Phantom of the Opera - and the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Cllr John McNicholas.

For more details of this week of performances visit: albanytheatre.co.uk/shows/ndfa or ring: 024 7699 8964.

Pictured: Mark Jefferies as Jack in the Criterion's performance of Queers - The Monologues