Left to right (back) Dexter Cooper, Janet O’Donoghue, Darren Riley, Bill Mitchell, Steve Cawte, Nita Pearce, Tina Fritchley, Martin Cooper, Ian Robinson and David Gates, and (front) Aidan O’Donoghue, Ian Peel, Fiona Hubery and Alexandra Abraham.
Left to right (back) Dexter Cooper, Janet O’Donoghue, Darren Riley, Bill Mitchell, Steve Cawte, Nita Pearce, Tina Fritchley, Martin Cooper, Ian Robinson and David Gates, and (front) Aidan O’Donoghue, Ian Peel, Fiona Hubery and Alexandra Abraham.

A Newark version of the Canterbury Tales, featuring a cast of 25, will be performed at four venues.

The play has been written by Peter Tyrer, of Hawton, and produced and directed by Steve Cawte and Steve Watson.

It is linked to a Heritage Lottery Fund application to restore the bells at All Saints’ Church, Hawton, and repair the tower.

The costumes have been made by Helen Tyrer, one of the churchwardens, who has made them as authentic as possible.

Mr Tyrer said the pilgrims in the Newarke Canterbury Tales walked all the way from Newark to Canterbury, taking a ferry across the Thames estuary.

Three of them introduce themselves and tell their tales in the play.

Sir John Arderne, a Newark surgeon and the father of English surgery, tells of an operation that became complicated; the Wife of Bath gives advice to women to travel forward with confidence in life and uses the game of chess as an example; and the bell-hangers’ tale describes how the Greek gods at Mount Olympus sought the hand of Terpsichore, the goddess of music, in a competition where cheating was commonplace.

"Those who have been in rehearsals say it is so side-splitting, in so many different ways, they cannot see how the performers can possibly stick to their lines," Mr Tyrer said.

The performances start at 7pm. They are at the Youth and Community Centre, Collingham, on July 5; Newark Parish Church, on July 6; and the State Chamber at Southwell Minster, on July 7.

The final performance is at All Saints’ Church, Hawton, on July 8. It will be preceded by a Medieval fair at Hawton starting at 1pm, involving a hog roast, tug-of-war, juggling, quoits, skittles and stocks.

Tickets for the play cost £5 and are available from RST Music and the Sir John Arderne in Newark, the Cathedral Shop in Southwell, and from Hawton churchwardens by calling 07711 946789 and 01636 702172. They will also be on the door at most venues.