Gallows humour on offer

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The latest touring production by the Northumberland Theatre Company can be seen in Morpeth next weekend.

The Alnwick-based group is bringing A Wife or the Gallows? to St George’s Church Hall on Saturday, October 24, as part of a national tour.

The play is made up of Northumbrian folk stories and John Mackay Wilson’s Tales of the Borders adapted by the group to celebrate the county’s heritage.

The evening is a mix of tale-telling and misadventures with comedy and light-hearted traditional stories, linked by character, music and song.

It includes popular Northern tales such as A Snowball in June and Mideside Maggie’s Bannock and The Adventures of Launcelot Errington and his Nephew Mark, as well as more obscure Northumberland and Borders classics.

Much of the play – previously staged in Berwick, Craster and Longhorsley – is based on Tweedmouth-born Wilson’s stories of Northumberland and the Borders.

In Berwick, a special Wilson’s Tales Project was set up to revive interest in the stories.

Wilson was born in 1804 and died in 1835 at the age of 31.

Project member Andrew Ayre praised the production for adding “focus and momentum” to the projects, adding: “They have taken one of the tales that sounds so fanciful it should be a shaggy dog story, but is actually essentially based on true events.”

All five of the stories coming to the hall next weekend are based on true stories.

The show stars Northumbrian actor David McCarthy.

McCarthy, brought up in Alnwick, joins a cast of five other professional actors and a full stage and technical crew.

The Morpeth show is the last currently scheduled, but other dates are to be added.