WORCESTERSHIRE drama groups have been taking part in an annual competition.

The Worcestershire Theatre Festival, open to amateur drama companies, is the preliminary round of the All-England Theatre Festival and sees groups stage one-act shows.

Held at the Evesham Arts Centre earlier this month, no fewer than 13 plays were staged over two days. Ten drama groups from the county and beyond came to compete and, as always, audiences were treated to many diverse performances.

The overall winner was Avon Opera, based in the village of Great Witley, near Worcester, for their production of Cox and Box, while the Best Youth Play award went to Theatre 282 Youth of Blakedown for The Last Picnic. Both groups went through to the next round, and tomorrow will compete again at the Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock, Shropshire.

On Saturday, May 21, the contest returns to Evesham for the semi-final.

Five plays will be performed but only one will be chosen for the national final which takes place in June. To find out more go to www.aetf.org.uk.

RESULTS: Best Set: Stourbridge Theatre Company - The Monkey''s Paw.

Best Dance: Side by Side Theatre Group - The Bird.

Trophy for Music: Avon Opera - Cox and Box.

Best Youth Play: Theatre 282 Youth - After the Picnic.

Trophy for Comedy: Wordsley Amateur Dramatic Society - The London Vertigo.

Adjudicators Award: Side by Side Theatre Group Pat Hassall and June Field, costumes - The Bird.

Best Actor: Wordsley Amateur Dramatic Society, Andrew Rock - The London Vertigo.

Best Actress: Stourbridge Theatre Company, Sandra Griswold - Monkey's Paw.

Best Director: Side by Side Theatre Group, Susan Rachel Wallin- The Bird Original Piece of Theatre: Wordsley Amateur Dramatic Society Andrew Rock - Remembrance Day.

Runners Up Trophy: World's End - Garbage Best Play: World's End - Garbage.

Overall Winners: Avon Opera - Cox and Box.