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Rasing a chuckle from Nordic noir and knitting

By Calum MacLeod

Sue Ryding and Maggie Fox star in Inspector Norse.
Sue Ryding and Maggie Fox star in Inspector Norse.

CAPTIVATED by The Killing? Bewitched by The Bridge?

Then allow theatre company Lip Service to pander to your passion for Scandinavian crime with added laughs and unusual uses for knitwear.

The Lip Service comic duo of Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding have been performing and writing together since 1985 with 16 comic stage shows and their own BBC Radio 4 series.

Now they put the laughter in manslaughter with their tribute to gloomy Nordic crimefighters in their two woman show Inspector Norse.

Ryding confesses she and Fox are big fans of Scandinavian crime themselves.

"We really love them," she admitted.

"We’re steeping in The Killing and The Bridge and all the others, but you don’t need to be a fan of Scandinavian crime fiction to enjoy the show. It holds up on its own as a silly comedy crime thriller, with the bonkers element of having a knitted set."

The idea for that came out of the pair’s own research trip to Scandinavia.

"We actually went to Scandinavia when we were writing this show and went right up to the north into the Arctic Circle and all the shops were full of knitting displays," Ryding explained.

"That sort of combined with detective Sarah Lund’s iconic jumper in The Killing, so we got the idea of incorporating knitting into the set. We started off very simply and thought we could have a tree and decorate it with knitted leaves in the interval.

"Then we started to think we could have a knitted dead body and do an autopsy and then people started sending in knitted body parts."

Body parts and the gentle craft of knitting might seem an unlikely combination, but Ryding pointed out with a laugh that there are some less squeamish knitters about.

"Medical students go in for it. If you go on the web you can certainly get a knitted uterus," she said.

However, you do not necessarily have to knit an intimate body part to get involved. Avid knitters along the tour’s route are also being invited to contribute to the set.

"There is a list and patterns if you go onto the website at www.lipservicetheatre.co.uk," Ryding said.

"Then you just turn up at the show with your knitting and we use whatever people have knitted in the show that night and invite the audience on stage in the interval to decorate the tree."

Crime fiction is not the only Scandinavian export Lip Service are gently poking fun at in a murder mystery that centres around Swedish supergroup "Fabba". A certain flatpack furniture retailer also gets the odd reference.

"IKEA came to see our show and we were absolutely terrified," Ryding revealed.

"We did some secret filming in IKEA and we thought they were going to prosecute us, but they absolutely loved the show. They want us to perform it in their canteens, whilst people are shopping around us, which I’m not entirely sure would work. But good on them for having a sense of humour!"

Another quirk of Scandinavian crime Ryding and Fox have picked up on it the apparent shortage of actors with familiar faces popping up from show to show to sometimes confusing effect — something the Lip Service duo can sympathise with.

"That’s also part of the comedy, that the two of us play all the parts in this murder mystery," Ryding said.

"There is a plot and some people say: ‘We worked it out in the first five minutes.’ Well, you’re doing better than us! The comedy is more important than the plot."

• Inspector Norse, Sunart Centre, Strontian, Monday 12th May; Cromarty Stables, Tuesday 13th; Thurso Players, Thurso, Wednesday 14th; Lyth Arts Centre, Wick, Thursday 15th; Ardross Community Hall, Friday 16th; and SEALL, Isle of Skye, Saturday 17th.

THERE will be a more serious take on Nordic Noir in Inverness on Tuesday 20th May when the Highland Literary Salon’s monthly meeting at the Glen Mhor Hotel welcomes novelist David Hewson.

, as well as the Rome set Nic Costa series and has recently launched another new series featuring former Dutch detective Pieter Vos. The KillingThriller writer Hewson is the bestselling author of the novel adaptations of Danish television hit

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