Preview: Eccentric Week, Greenwich Theatre, London

Nowt as queer as the English
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The Independent Culture

In the past, Greenwich Theatre has devoted one week each to the themes of satire, sex, politics and the meaning of life. Now eccentricity is next in line.

The events are the brainchild of Hilary Strong, the theatre's director since 1999 and formerly the director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Her latest idea, celebrating the idiosyncrasies of the British, won out over the competing charms of Pet Week and Gardening Week.

"The Greenwich Theatre specialises in musical theatre," says Strong. "These mini-festivals allow us to throw comedy, theatre and music into the mix and it gives us more scope over the course of a week."

Among the events the theatre will be hosting is the Radio 4 game show Just a Minute, chaired by Nicholas Parsons, with Julian Clary, Paul Merton and Clement Freud. Meanwhile, a performance by the wildly talented Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will be followed by an all-night ghost hunt, conducted by the Paranormal Search and Investigation team, and aided by two members of the public. "There is talk of a tall grey lady in the back of the theatre and a poltergeist in the theatre's kitchen," claims Strong.

Arthur "Grumpy Old Man" Smith will lead a walking tour of Greenwich and compères the Eccentric Comedy Night. He is joined by Miles Jupp's aristocrat who is mystified by the world; the quirky singing comedian Boothby Graffoe; and Wil Hodgson appears as "a punk with a Mohican from Chippenham who collects Care Bears".

There's a new monologue by the wonderfully peculiar Ken Campbell, and an appearance at the charity auction by Lady Margaret Oswick - the alter ego of the Natural Theatre Company's Ralph Oswick and the English version of Dame Edna Everage, according to Strong. Throughout the week, the theatre will be home to an exhibition of the weird and wonderful illustrations of Heath Robinson.

24 to 29 April (020-8858 7755; www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk)

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