YORKSHIRE arts and culture podcasters Chalmers & Hutch reveal all about BB’s choice of thirst quencher in their latest wide-ranging episode of Two Big Egos In A Small Car.
Under discussion too are a ViP night watching Kristen Stewart’s Spencer with a string quartet at Cineworld, Jack Kerouac’s road to Hebden Bridge, and exit Brexit festival, enter Unboxed festival, but what is it?
YORK’S annual short film festival keeps growing longer as Charles Hutchinson surveys a week ahead of multiple choices.
Festival of the week and beyond: Aesthetica Short Film Festival, York, from Tuesday
THE 11th edition of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival runs in York from November 2 to 7 and online from November 2 to 30 in a new hybrid format that combines in-person events and the virtual platform.
ASFF 2021 offers six carefully curated film programmes, such as animation, drama, family friendly and dance, along with industry sessions and marketplace, masterclasses, guest screenings, the VR Lab, social events and an awards ceremony in this showcase for a new wave of cinematic talent. Full details can be found at asff.co.uk.
Heritage gig of the week: Mr H presents Cud, plus Percy, The Crescent, York, tonight, 7.30pm
HERE’S the history bit: Leeds art students form band in 1985, create cult indie-pop and funk sensation, tour with the Pixies and record sessions with John Peel.
Emerging from the same art/design cauldron that produced fellow Leeds legends Soft Cell, Scritti Politti and The Mekons, Cud were the pre-Britpop answer to sad-eyed shoegaze, reckons promoter Tim Hornsby. Here come Carl Puttnam and co with the still infectious indie rock of Rich And Strange and Purple Love Balloon. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Comedy gig of the week: David Baddiel, Trolls: Not The Dolls, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 7.30pm
IN his follow-up to My Family: Not The Sitcom and Euro 2020 return to number one with Three Lions, comedian David Baddiel turns his quizzical gaze to trolls: “the terrible people who spend all day insulting and abusing strangers for no other reason than to fill the huge gaps in their souls”.
Baddiel tells stories of the dark, dreadful and absurd cyber-paths that interacting with trolls has led him down. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.
Musical of the week: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Leeds Grand Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday.
EVERYBODY’S talking about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, but stop talking and start rushing to the box office as tickets are hotter than a climate-changed world amid COP26 fever.
Jamie New, 16, lives on a Sheffield council estate, where he doesn’t fit it in and is terrified of the future, but he will be a sensation in this award-winning musical, “specially updated for the times we live in”.
Layton Williams reprises his West End role, starring alongside Shane Richie and Shobna Gulati. Box office: 0844 848 2700 or at leedsheritagetheatres.com.
Nights at the opera: York Opera in The Magic Flute, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 7.15pm; Saturday (6/11/2021), 4pm
YORK Opera returns to York Theatre Royal after a pandemic-enforced two-year gap with Mozart’s The Magic Flute, sung in English to orchestral accompaniment.
The story follows Prince Tamino (Hamish Brown) on his quest to rescue Pamina (Alexandra Mather) from the grasp of her mother, the evil Queen of the Night (Heather Watts), and return with her to the world of light presided over by Sarastro (Mark Simmonds), the High Priest of Isis and Osiris.
David Valsamidis makes his York Opera debut as Papageno, the Queen of the Night’s bird catcher; John Soper is the stage director; Derek Chivers, the musical director. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
In space, no-one can hear you scream, but at York Barbican they can hear you talk: Tim Peake, My Journey To Space, Tuesday, 7.30pm
IN December 2015, Tim Peake became the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station to conduct a spacewalk while orbiting Earth.
Back on terra firma, he is on his first British tour, sharing his passion for aviation, exploration and adventure as he brings unprecedented access, photographs and fresh footage to his guide to life in space, from European Space Agency astronaut training to launch, spacewalk to re-entry.
Peake will be revealing the secrets, the science and the everyday wonders of how and why humans journey into space. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Fright night of the week: The Battersea Poltergeist – Live, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm
FROM a BBC Radio 4 series, The Battersea Poltergeist became a multi-million, genre-busting download phenomenon, mixing documentary and drama to tell the terrifying true story of the 1956 haunting of the Hitchings family at 63 Wycliffe Road, London, at the hands of a poltergeist they nicknamed Donald.
Now, The Battersea Poltergeist goes live as writer, playwright and journalist Danny Robins, the show’s creator, and his podcast guest experts delve deeper into this paranormal cold case, bringing the investigation to life on stage, sharing exclusive footage of Shirley Hitchings and other witnesses and revealing chilling new evidence. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.
Long goodbye of the week: Clannad: In A Lifetime, The Farewell Tour, York Barbican, Wednesday, 8pm
CLANNAD were booked to play York Barbican on March 10, but you-know-what intervened, delaying Moya Brennan and co’s Farewell Tour to the autumn.
The tour takes its name from the career-spanning March 2020 anthology In A Lifetime, drawn from 16 studio albums since 1970 that fuse elements of traditional Irish music with more contemporary folk, new age and rock. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
York Late Music at the double:Duncan Honeybourne, 1pm to 2pm; Elysian Singers, 7.30pm to 9.30pm, St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, York, November 6
IN the afternoon, Duncan Honeybourne presents pieces from his collection Contemporary Piano Soundbites: Composers In Lockdown 2020, after commissioning more than 30 piano miniatures from distinguished senior figures and emerging composers alike. Works by John Casken, John McLeod, David Power, David Lancaster, Sadie Harrison and Adam Gorb feature.
For the evening concert, Elysian Singers director Sam Laughton has devised a programme of choral music where a contemporary work is paired with an earlier piece based on words from the same poet or source, such as Cheryl Frances-Hoad and Rachmaninov’s settings of All-Night Vigil. Box office: latemusic.org.
Recommended but sold out already
FEMALE Gothic, tonight and tomorrow, and Nightwalkers storytellers Jan Blake and TUUP, Saturday, both at York Theatre Royal Studio; York band The Howl & The Hum, Leeds Brudenell Social Club, Saturday and Sunday; American singer-songwriter Beth Hart, York Barbican, Sunday.
MOOR, Moor, Moor and much more, more, more besides are on Charles Hutchinson’s list for the week ahead.
Surrealist stand-up theatre of the week, Ben Moor and Joanna Neary mini-season, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, today until Saturday
BEN Moor and Joanna Neary combine to deliver five offbeat comedy shows in three days in their Theatre@41 debut.
Moor contemplates performance, friendship and regret in his lecture about lectures, Pronoun Trouble, tonight at 8pm. Tomorrow, at 7.30pm, Neary’s multi-character sketch show with songs and impersonations, Wife On Earth, is followed by Moor’s Who Here’s Lost?, his dream-like tale of a road trip of the soul taken by two outsiders.
Saturday opens at 3pm with Joanna’s debut children’s puppet show, Stinky McFish And The World’s Worst Wish, and concludes at 7pm with the two-hander BookTalkBookTalkBook, a “silly author event parody show”. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Alternative history lesson of the week: Horrible Histories’ Barmy Britain, Grand Opera House, York, today at 1.30pm, 7pm; tomorrow, 10.30am and 7pm; Saturday, 3pm, 7pm; Sunday, 11am, 3pm
WHAT if a Viking moved in next door? Would you lose your heart or head to horrible Henry VIII? Can evil Elizabeth entertain England? Will Parliament survive Gunpowder Guy? Dare you stand and deliver to dastardly Dick Turpin?
Questions, questions, so many questions to answer, and here to answer them are the Horrible Histories team in Barmy Britain, a humorously horrible and eye-popping show trip to the past with Bogglevision 3D effects. Box office: atgtickets.com/york
Reopening of the week: York Theatre Royal Studio for Tutti Frutti’s The Princess And The Pea, today to Tuesday; no show on Sunday
YORK Theatre Royal Studio reopens today with a capacity reduced from 100 to 71 and no longer any seating to the sides.
First up, Leeds children’s theatre company Tutti Frutti revive York playwright Mike Kenny’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story, set in a place where what you see is not what it seems: the Museum of Forgotten Things.
Three musical curators delve into the mystery of how a little green pea ended up there in an hour of humour, songs and a romp through every type of princess you could imagine. Box office and show times: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Open Studios of the week: Anita Bowerman, Dove Tree Art Gallery and Studio, Back Granville Road, Harrogate, Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 5pm
HARROGATE paper-cut, watercolour and stainless steel artist Anita Bowerman opens her doors for refreshments and a browse around her new paintings of Yorkshire and Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen, prints and mugs.
“It’s a perfect chance for inspiration before the Christmas present-buying rush starts,” says Anita, who has been busy illustrating a new charity Christmas card for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance featuring the Yorkshire Shepherdess.
York Design Week gig of the week: Drawsome!, Mollie Coddled Talk More Pavilion, Spark:York, Saturday, from 3pm
AS part of Drawsome’s day of workshops and an Indy Makers Market to complement MarkoLooks’ print swap exhibition of illustrators and printmakers, York’s Young Thugs Records are curating a free line-up of live music.
Taking part will be The Hazy Janes, Kell Chambers and Rachel Croft, singer, songwriter and illustrator to boot.
Welcome back of the week: Breabach, Selby Town Hall, Saturday, 8pm
GLASGOW folk luminaries Breabach will be the first touring band to play Selby Town Hall for almost 20 months this weekend.
“Leading lights of the Scottish roots music scene and five-time Scots Trad Music Award winners, they’re a really phenomenally talented band,” says Chris Jones, Selby Town Council’s arts officer. “It’s an absolute thrill to have professional music back in the venue. It’s been far too long!” Box office: 01757 708449, at selbytownhall.co.uk or on the door from 7.30pm.
Eighties’ celebration of the week: Level 42, York Barbican, Sunday, doors 7pm
ISLE of Wight jazz funksters Level 42 revive those rubbery bass favourites Lessons In Love, The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up), Something About You, Running In The Family et al at York Barbican.
Here are the facts: Mark King’s band released 14 studio, seven live and six compilation albums, sold out Wembley Arena for 21 nights and chalked up 30 million album sales worldwide.
This From Eternity To Here tour gig has been rearranged from October 2020; original tickets remain valid. Box office for “limited availability”: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Guitarist of the week: Richard Thompson, York Barbican, Monday, doors 7pm
RICHARD Thompson plays York Barbican on the back of releasing Beeswing, his April autobiography subtitled Losing My Way And Finding My Voice 1967-1975.
An intimate memoir of musical exploration, personal history and social revelation, it charts his co-founding of folk-rock pioneers Fairport Convention, survival of a car crash, formation of a duo with wife Linda and discovery of Sufism.
Move on from the back pages, here comes Richard Thompson OBE, aged 72, songwriter, singer and one of Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 20 Guitarists of All Time. Katherine Priddy supports. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Something wicked this way comes…at last: York Shakespeare Project in Macbeth, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, October 26 to 30, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee
THE curse of Macbeth combined with Lockdown 1’s imposition to put a stop to York Shakespeare Project’s Scottish Play one week before its March 2020 opening.
Rising like the ghost of Banquo, but sure to be better received, Leo Doulton’s resurrected production will run as the 37th play in the York charity’s mission to perform all Shakespeare’s known plays over 20 years.
Doulton casts Emma Scott’s Macbeth into a dystopian future, using a cyberpunk staging to bring to life this dark tale of ambition, murder and supernatural forces. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Dance show of the week: Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday, 7.30pm
ARTISTIC director Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black return to York with a double bill full of lyrical contrasts and beautiful movement.
Will Tuckett blends classical ballet, poetry and music to explore ideas of home and belonging in Then Or Now; fellow Olivier Award-winning choreographer Mthuthuzeli November contemplates the purpose of life in The Waiting Game. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Exhibition of the week: Fylingdales Group of Artists, Blossom Street Gallery, Blossom Street, York, until November 30
TWELVE Fylingdales Group members are contributing 31 works to this exhibition of Yorkshire works, mainly of paintings in oils, acrylics, gouache and limonite.
Two pieces by Paul Blackwell are in pastel; Angie McCall has incorporated collage in her mixed-media work and printmaker Michael Atkin features too.
Also participating are David Allen, fellow Royal Society of Marine Artist member and past president David Howell, Kane Cunningham, John Freeman, Linda Lupton, Don Micklethwaite, Bruce Mulcahy, Sue Slack and Ann Thornhill.
MOOR, Moor, Moor is in store when Ben Moor takes over Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, for a mini-season of offbeat comedy with Joanna Neary from October 21 to 23.
Ben presents Pronoun Trouble, A Comedy Lecture, on Thursday at 8pm; then he and fellow writer-performer Joanna team up for an unconventional comedy double bill on Friday at 7.30pm.
Neary’s Wife On Earth, a multi-character sketch show with songs and impersonations, will be followed by Moor’s Who Here’s Lost?, his dream-like tale of a road trip of the soul taken by two outsiders, a melancholy, uninspired artist and a mute architect, as they seek an understanding of what they have made with their lives while visiting some quirky landmarks.
Saturday opens at 3pm with Joanna’s debut children’s puppet show, Stinky McFish And The World’s Worst Wish, and concludes at 7pm with the two-hander BookTalkBookTalkBook, a “silly author event parody show” wherein Moor and Neary portray a pair of writers trapped inside a book festival. As the event spins beyond their control, it degenerates into an absurdist comedy about authorship, artificial intelligence and washing-up.
In the first of the 55-minute, Edinburgh Fringe-length shows, Pronoun Trouble, a lecturer takes to the stage and begins an analysis of The Hunting Trilogy at a symposium on the subject of Looney Tunes.
This series of Chuck Jones shorts features Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd, and their ongoing argument as to whether it is now Duck Season or Rabbit Season. “As she delves deeper into the alternate reality of the characters’ world, her talk goes off the rails and into the woods,” says Ben.
“Meanwhile, an attendee makes notes, not just on the subject matter but also on the lecturer, on things he sees in the room, and the other students. His favourite words, his favourite mugs and T-shirts, and the schism on London’s high streets between the spellings of launderette and laundrette, all cross his mind.”
Eventually the two strands of thought twist together, and the piece concludes with a contemplation of performance, friendship and regret.
“Pronoun Trouble is a lecture about lectures, the intricacies of passion, and how we should be there for each other. The Powerpoint uses the cartoons to go into ridiculously unnecessary depth – and a swathe of invented academia – to dissect hidden meanings, secret stories and unconsidered relationships with other works,” says Ben. “Likewise and concurrently, the audience member scrutinises parts of his own life and output.”
Pronoun Trouble is typical of Moor’s “stand-up theatre” pieces wherein he places universal themes in bizarre and funny landscapes, with his writing drawing comparisons with authors as diverse as Lewis Carroll and Thomas Pynchon.
“First performed in 2017, the response to Pronoun Trouble has been overwhelmingly positive,” he says. “Audience members have described it variously as brilliant, hilarious, wonderful, clever, surreal and very, very, very silly. It is, hopefully, all of those things.”
In Neary’s Wife On Earth, Brief Encounter-inspired Fantasist-housewife Celia and friends take their Cosmic Shambles Network podcast on the road with their wife-based gang show.
“They’ll be asking ‘what on earth is a wife? And why?’,” says Joanna, who creates character comedy shows in the vein of Victoria Wood and Vic Reeves.
“From the history of wifery, to the wiles and wherefores of when to wife; a dozen wives (ex-wives, future wives, non-wives and anti-wives) wait in the wings at a village hall near you, ready to share their startling stories, while bickering and drinking wine out of a teapot. Please note, some non-wives and wives will be expressing themselves in dance form.”
Summing up Wife On Earth, Ben says: “Joanna performs her brilliant buffet of characters as a gang of wives and non-wives go on tour to raise funds to re-lead the church roof with lead-free lead. New faces (wigs) plus old favourites such as Bjork, Kate Bush on sexy housework and Celia hosting and dancing.”
In the cryptic, melancholic, surreal, mind-expanding and heart-felt Who Here’s Lost?, Moor asks: “What do we make with our lives? An artist worries his work has lost its way. An architect wants to see her buildings for a final time. A changing landscape searches for itself.
“This is a story about what we value as we go along, and how we present it to others. It features bubble-wrap, party games, museums, ants and ice cream – and a gorgeous score by Suns Of The Tundra – so so if you’re lost, just think about the ice cream.”
Neary’s 40-minute puppet show, Stinky McFish And The World’s Worst Wish, is suitable for ages four to eight but is accessible to all. “Stinky The Crab longs to be human; Lucy would love her very own pet. Can they make each other’s dreams come true? Or should Stinky be careful what he wishes for?” asks Joanna.
“With original music and a cast of colourful characters, Marina Fishwife tells the tale of how the tiny brave creatures of the rock pools work together to make life in the rock pools good again for everyone.”
BookTalkBookTalkBook’s send-up of a very serious author talk going bizarrely off the rails introduces Jenny Nibbingley and Burton Mastrick, who need no introduction. As two of Britain’s most published – although least read and most widely ignored – novelists, it is no surprise they have been invited to today’s book festival.
Their event’s moderator, Tim Timminey, likewise significant, should be turning up soon, but until then, Jenny and Burt agree to read sections from their books, Wretched Lawns and The Exceptions. Bad decision.
“As an ex-couple, their writing seems mainly to consist of ongoing digs at the other’s character and work,” says Ben. “But is that all that is going on? Might this all be a reading from another book about a book talk going horribly wrong? Or is that also part of something else?
“BookTalkBookTalkBook combines a parody of awkward live author events, an exploration of artificial intelligence and the creative process, a Beckettian live theatre experience and an experiment in the limits of patience regarding card tricks.”
Layer folds into layer; story reflects story in a piece that changes direction constantly, challenging the audience while still being entertaining.
“If you’ve ever been to a literary event and thought somehow it needed to be even more awkward, hoped for confusing card tricks and/or wondered why the writers aren’t obsessed with washing up, this basically might just be the show for you,” says Ben.
Tickets for Ben Moor and Joanna Neary’s mini-season of shows are on sale at 41monkgate.co.uk.
AFTER all that info, here is a burst of CharlesHutchPress quick questions for quick answers from Ben Moor.
How did the York run of shows come about and when did you and Joanna hit on the idea of sharing such blocks of performances?
“I’d worked with Alan Park [Theatre@41 chair] on a mentoring project in London called Scene and Heard, and when he said he was looking for shows for Theatre@41, I got in touch.
“All the shows were originally planned for the 2020 Edinburgh Fringe, but when that was cancelled, they were put into storage and now seems a good time to get them up and running again.”
Should more performers combine to mount shows this way?
“Of course! It’s a good way to present a mini-season and spend time in lovely York.”
How do you and Joanna know each other and what makes for a good combination of shows on the road?
“We first worked together on a project at the National Theatre Studio in 2005 and I’ve long been a fan of Joanna’s writing and performances. Neither of us fits particularly easily into the stand-up circuit and it’s great to learn that there’s a comedy audience who want something a bit out of the mainstream.”
You call your offbeat comedy “nonsense”. That seems very harsh on yourself, especially as comedian, author and newspaper columnist Stewart Lee says: “Ben Moor, for my money, is the Ken Campbell/Spalding Gray of my generation, a natural storyteller who blurs the boundaries between comedy, theatre and performance art”. Discuss…
“All comedy is nonsense to some degree. My work doesn’t discuss the world as it is, it’s a glimpse into a universe a step or two either side of ours. I love theatre of the absurd and surreal humour too.”
Do you enjoy lectures?
“I do. Pronoun Trouble was partly inspired by a day of interesting talks and it was fascinating to watch the speakers “perform” and get their enthusiasm across to their audiences.”
Why are author events just so awkward and as stiff as an old green room sofa?
“There is a certain way of doing them that confines them – and in fact that is what appeals to their audience. They expect a reading or two, some questions from a moderator, questions from the audience and a signing.
“BookTalkBookTalkBook plays with those expectations and undermines them constantly.”
The tour of your latest piece, Who Here’s Lost?, was delayed by the accursed pandemic. Did the piece change over those months that found many of us on “a road trip of the soul” as we couldn’t go anywhere and felt lost and disconnected?
“I first presented it at the Port Eliot Festival in Summer 2019 and it hasn’t changed much since. I’m sure there are going to be lots of shows about the last couple of years and they’ll be great, but no, it’s very much a piece in its own world.”
Apparently “Ben Moor’s shows aren’t easy to describe, but are impossible to forget”. Explain yourself, please!
“My work mixes comedy with storytelling and theatre and while that sounds like it’s caught between stools, I find the freedom to explore the space between the stools very liberating.
“I mix lines that are meant to be funny with ones that are poetic with others that are melancholy and it’s the task of an audience to follow all the threads to create their own pictures.”
What gets you up in the morning?
“The delight of sharing this wonderful world and the adventure of what might come next.”
After Moor, Moor, Moor in York, what might come next for you?
“Joanna and I are performing our Comedy Double Bill again in Aldershot in December, and we hope to have the other shows on the road next year too.”
Did you know?
BEN Moor has been producing offbeat solo comedy shows for nearly three decades, winning a Herald Angel Award for his show Coelacanth. As an actor, he has appeared in The Queen’s Gambit, A Very English Scandal and The IT Crowd. He created the series Undone and Elastic Planet for BBC Radio and is the author of More Trees To Climb.
JOANNA Neary produces character comedy shows such as Inbox – The Art Of Now and Before The Room Next Door, with Michael Spicer, both for BBC Radio 4.She has TV and film credits for Darkest Hour, Miranda, Ideal and Man Down and played Miss Jones in CBBC’s So Awkward. Wife On Earth is a live version of her podcast for the Cosmic Shambles Network.
AUTUMN’S fruits are ripe and ready for Charles Hutchinson to pick with no worries about shortages.
Scandal of the week: Being Mr Wickham, Original Theatre Company, York Theatre Royal, tonight until Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm, Saturday
ADRIAN Lukis played the vilified George Wickham in the BBC’s television adaptation of Pride And Prejudice 26 years ago this very month.
Time, he says, to set the record straight about Jane Austen’s most charmingly roguish character in his one-man play Being Mr Wickham, co-written with Catherine Curzon.
This is the chance to discover Wickham’s version of famous literary events. What really happened with Mr Darcy? What did he feel about Lizzie? What went on at Waterloo? Not to mention Byron. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Play of the week outside York: The Offing, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until October 30
IN a Britain still reeling from the Second World War, Robert Appleyard sets out on an adventure at 16: to walk from his home in Durham to Scarborough, where he hopes to find work, but he never arrives there.
Instead, up the coast at Robin Hood’s Bay, a chance encounter with the bohemian, eccentric Dulcie Piper leads to a lifelong, defining friendship. She introduces him to the joys of good food and wine, art and literature; he helps her lay to rest a ghost in Janice Okoh’s adaptation of Benjamin Myers’s novel for the SJT and Live Theatre, Newcastle. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.
Classic comeback: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, Saturday, 7.30pm
YORK Guildhall Orchestra return to the concert stage this weekend after the pandemic hiatus with a programme of operatic favourites, conducted by Simon Wright.
The York musicians will be joined by Leeds Festival Chorus and two soloists, soprano Jenny Stafford, and tenor Oliver Johnston, to perform overtures, arias and choruses by Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Rossini, Mozart, Puccini and Verdi. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Medical drama of the week: Adam Kay, This Is Going To Hurt, Secret Diaries Of A Junior Doctor, Grand Opera House, Sunday, 8pm
ADAM Kay, medic turned comic, shares entries from his diaries as a junior doctor in his evening of horror stories from the NHS frontline, savvy stand-up, witty wordplay and spoof songs.
His award-winning show, This Going To Hurt, has drawn 200,000 people to sell-out tours, the Edinburgh Fringe and West End runs, and the book of the same name topped the best sellers list for more than a year and is soon to be a BBC drama. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/york.
Irish night of the week: Boyzlife, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm; doors, 6.30pm
PUT Irish boy band graduates Brian McFadden, from Westlife, and Keith Duffy, from Boyzone, together and they become Boyzlife, as heard on the July 2020 album Strings Attached, recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
On tour with a full band, but not the ‘Phil’, they choose songs from a joint back catalogue of 18 number one singles and nine chart-topping albums.
So many to squeeze in…or not: No Matter What, Flying Without Wings, World Of Our Own, Queen Of My Heart, Picture Of You, Uptown Girl, You Raise Me Up, Going Gets Tough, Swear It Again, Father And Son, Love Me For A Reason and My Love. Find out on Sunday. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk
Loudest gig of the week: Thumper, Fulford Arms, York, Tuesday, 8pm
THUMPER, the cult Dublin band with two thumping drummers, are back on the road after you know what, promoting a 2021 mix of their single Ad Nauseam: a cautionary tale of repetition, vanity and becoming too close to what you know will eat you.
From the Irish city of the equally visceral Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital, Thumper have emerged with their ragged guitars and “bratty, frenetic punk rock” (Q magazine).
Now their debut album is taking shape after the band were holed up in their home studio for months on end. The Adelphi, Hull, awaits on Wednesday.
At the fourth time of planning: Mary Coughlan, Pocklington Arts Centre, Tuesday, 8pm
GALWAY jazz and blues chanteuse Mary Coughlan had to move her Pocklington show three times in response to the stultifying pandemic.
“Ireland’s Billie Holliday” twice rearranged the gig during 2020, and did so again this year in a switch from April 23 to October 19.
At the heart of Mary’s concert, fourth time lucky, will still be Life Stories, her 15th album, released on the wonderfully named Hail Mary Records last September. Box office: 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
Double act of the week ahead: Spiers & Boden, Pocklington Arts Centre, Wednesday, 7.30pm
AFTER years of speculation, much-loved English folk duo Spiers & Boden are back together, releasing the album Fallow Ground and bringing a live show to Pocklington this autumn with special guests.
First forming a duo in 2001, John Spiers, now 46, and Jon Boden, 44, became leading lights in big folk band Bellowhead, resting the duo in 2014, before Bellowhead headed into the sunset in 2016. Solo endeavours ensued but now Spiers & Boden return. Box office: 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
Musical of the week: Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical Jr, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, October 20 to 24, 7.30pm; 2pm, 4.30pm, Saturday; 2pm, Sunday.
ONLY the last few tickets are still available for York Stage Musicals’ York premiere of the Broadway Junior version of Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story.
Matilda has astonishing wit, intelligence, imagination…and special powers! Unloved by her cruel parents, she nevertheless impresses teacher Miss Honey, but mean headmistress Miss Trunchbull hates children and just loves thinking up new punishments for those who fail to abide by her rules. Hurry, hurry to the box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntheatre.co.uk.
Worth noting too:
PEOPLE We Love, the York Mediale exhibition, reopening at York Minster from Saturday. York Design Week, full of ideas, October 20 to 26, at yorkdesign week.com; Light Night Leeds 2021, with a Back To Nature theme for this art and lights festival tonight and tomorrow, at whatson.leeds.gov.uk; Live At Leeds gigs across 20 venues with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Sports Team, The Night Café, The Big Moon, Dream Wife, Poppy Adjuda, The Orielles and Thumper, at liveatleeds.com.
FOR the revelations on Genesis, listen to Episode 59 of arts and culture podcasters Chalmers & Hutch’s Two Big Egos In A Small Car debates.
Under discussion too are: tips on how to judge/not judge Battle of the Bands contests; Scritti Politti’s music-hall act at Leeds City Varieties; why No Time To Die is the longest Bond film; and the Seventies’ sci-fi visions of Michael Moorcock’s The Condition Of Muzak.
SAY Owt, York’s rowdy but loveable spoken-word and poetry gang, are bringing Bad Betty Press up north tonight for a 7.30pm bill of open-mic spots and featured wordsmiths at the Fulford Arms.
“Bad Betty Press are an independent publisher boasting some of the finest poets in the UK, and for this show we have open-mic spaces for poets local to York and surrounding towns and villages or people who have never performed with us before,” says Say Owt artistic director Henry Raby.
Tonight’s “super selection of super spoken worders” at the first Say Owt live event since December 2020 comprises York punk poet Crow Rudd and Bad Betty Poetry guests Kirsten Luckins and Tanatsei Gambura.
Crow Rudd (they/them) is a disabled nonbinary queer published poet and slam champion whose work focuses on mental health, grief, politics and the power of cuddles. Creator of Sad Poets Doorstep Club, founder of the UK Trans & Nonbinary Poets Network and reigning Stanza Slam champion, their debut collection ‘i am a thing of rough edges’ is out, published by Whisky & Beards.
Kirsten Luckins, a poet, performer and spoken word theatre-maker from the north-east coast, puts the emphasis on compassion and playfulness in her multi-artform, collaborative creative practice.
She has toured two award-nominated spoken-word shows and is a director, dramaturg and creative producer. She is artistic director of the Tees Women Poets collective and co-founder of the Celebrating Change digital storytelling project, where she teaches creative memoir writing.
Zimbabwean poet, intermedia artist and cultural practitioner Tanatsei Gambura was the runner-up in the inaugural Amsterdam Open Book Prize for the manuscript Things I Have Forgotten Before, published this year by Bad Betty Press.
Drawing from personal experience, her work explores the themes of black womanhood in the context of post-colonial immigration, global geopolitics and cultural identity. She is an alumnus of the British Council residency, These Images Are Stories, and her work has been recognised by United Nations Women and the Goethe Institut.
Say Owt’s always high-energy shows are supported by funding from Arts Council England. “Tonight’s event will feature a set of banging poems, full of wit and humour to warm your soul this October. Best of all, admission is free,” says Henry, who will co-host the show at the Fulford Arms, Fulford Road, with Stu Freestone.
YORK cartoonist Bertt deBaldock’s new volume of rabbit valedictories to celebrities and remarkable individuals covers February 2020 to July 2021.
“That happens to be the period of the start and possible end of the pandemic,” says Terry Brett, the Pyramid Gallery owner and artist behind “The Scribbler” Bertt’s memorial works.
“Hence Good Rabbits Gone 2 has a subtitle, The Covid Years, and the book looks like a strange diary of the pandemic,” he reflects ahead of Saturday’s launch.
The 92 pages contain tributes to luminaries such as Terry Jones of Monty Python, rock’n’roll pioneer Little Richard, World Cup winners Nobby Stiles and Diego Maradona, television and radio personality Tim Brooke-Taylor, forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn and Bond Girls Honor Blackman and Dame Diana Rigg, alongside the most venerable Bond, Sir Sean Connery.
“But also there’s a visual list of several pandemic crises such as ‘lockdown’, ‘beer going down the drain’ and the ‘demise of the office’, all portrayed as rabbits,” says Terry.
First prompted by the exit stage left of David Bowie on January 10 2016 – the day the music died in a year when it died again and again and again [Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael on Christmas Day] – Terry set about drawing cartoons “in a rush” at the time of the “unique individual’s” passing and publishing them on Twitter and Facebook at #GoodRabbitsGone.
He then assembled 64 celebrities, accompanied by his own tributes or memories, in Good Rabbits Gone, Volume One In A Million, published in November 2020 in a Covid Lockdown project where he gave away 200 limited-edition copies and raised £1,700 for St Leonard’s Hospice from donations.
This Saturday, Good Rabbits Gone 2, Volume Two To Infinity will be launched at Pyramid Gallery, in Stonegate, between 11am and 3pm, when Bertt deBaldock will be on hand to sign copies.
Funded by the gallery, the new book again will be given away, and once more voluntary donations to the charity are invited. “From my experience with the first volume, people enjoy being given the book,” says Terry. “Most of those people have then offered a donation, at the gallery or via justgiving.com/fundraising/Terry-Brett6.”
Here, Terry answers CharlesHutchPress’s questions on rabbits, death notices, the balancebetween imagery and wording, the impact of Covid on Good Rabbits Gone and the choice of charity fordonations.
For those new to Good Rabbits, why did you choose rabbits as the motif for your valedictory tributes, Terry?
“When my daughters were ten and seven, they had a pet rabbit, which I looked after. We were making a family wall-hanging using stencils. This rabbit appeared as I was cutting a shape in card using scissors. I’ve now been drawing it on Christmas cards for 26 years.
“When David Bowie died, I felt a great sadness. It just seemed natural to me to draw a rabbit for him. Then, three weeks later Terry Wogan. Gradually I started to add facial features to the drawings. After four years, I had 64 drawings and the pandemic lockdown gave me some time to put them in a book.
“It might seem weird to be creating memorials to people by representing them as a rabbit, but I don’t see the need to question it too much. I find the act of drawing helps relieve the sense of loss and my own anxiety about mortality. The process of reading about the individual’s life and trying to capture a tiny segment of their character in a simple drawing is a little bit cathartic.
“The rabbit body and ears create a limitation in the final drawing, preventing each portrait from being too complicated or serious. All the individuals become united by the addition of rabbit ears!”
Or, in a nutshell…?
“There’s a long-held belief in the Bertt/Brett household that if you have lived a good life, well, let’s say a mostly good life, i.e. if you have been nice or have achieved something for the benefit of others, then when you die you will become a rabbit.”
How do the newly RIP VIPs quality for a Bertt deBaldock tribute? Has that changed at all for Volume Two?
“Well, most names who hit the headlines qualify on the basis that they have done something amazing in their life. I can’t really tell whether or not they have actually been a good human being, though with many people there’s so much written about them, that there’s no closet in which to hide the skeletons.
“I was disappointed not to be able include Motown producer Phil Spector, ruled out on the basis that he was found guilty of second-degree murder. There are many others that I could have included, lots of actors and actresses, but I like to find some other attribute in their make-up that goes beyond acting.
“Honor Blackman, for instance, was a Second World War despatch rider and a judo blackbelt before she became an actress. Reading about iconic individuals fascinates me.”
Do you consider the wording to be as important as the imagery, with much greater scope than on a gravestone?
“I want to make the page entertaining or give the impression that the individual was a person of substance. Some people’s faces, or eccentric dress, say most of what needs to be said, but the addition of a quotation can put across something of great importance to that individual.
“For Albert Roux, I merely added his quote ‘Don’t let love interfere with your appetite’, which says all you need to know about a man who holds food up above all other human needs.
“But I enjoyed adding a bit of humour to that with the dates of his birth and death: Hors D’oeuvres 8 Octobre 1935, Digestif 4 Janvier 2021. As well as being amusing, it tells the reader that he was both a chef and French.
“Sometimes, I like to add an anecdote about myself or my family. Some people have said that these are their favourite pages! For the astronaut Michael Collins, I say only a little about him as Apollo Command Module pilot and the moonwalk by Neil Armstrong, but a lot about me delivering newspapers in the rain, while they were at the crux of their mission. It brings things down to earth a little.”
This set of tributes covers the Covid period: how much does that cast a shadow over the memorials, even prompting the subtitle and your reflection that it “looks like a strange diary of the pandemic”?
“The whole world was in a state of panicked confusion. Some of these great people died of Covid. I was really shocked that Tim Brooke-Taylor was an early victim. I felt that if he can’t be saved, then we are all very vulnerable.
“The book would have been incomplete without some acknowledgement of the pandemic, and I wanted to record some poignant moments, such as the Thursday night applause we gave to the NHS and essential workers.
“I drew the hands clapping in rainbow colours, with the hands gradually becoming rabbits. This is a subtle dig at the Government. If they think that saying thank-you to NHS is enough, then they don’t understand what the public is feeling about the years of under-funding the NHS.
“If all we can do is applaud the NHS for the sacrifices made, then the NHS itself will become a [Bertt] rabbit. Other European nations were better prepared for the crisis than the UK, more ventilators, more nurses and better provision of PPE. It was right to clap for the NHS but they need more funds and better planning.
“I didn’t set out to make points about the politics, but it just couldn’t be ignored. There was also a lot of humour put out on social media about Covid. I think it helps us all get through.”
How have you responded to Covid in the broader subject matter for (with reference to ‘Lockdown’, ‘Beer Going Down The Drain’, ‘Freedom – Italy’ and ‘The Demise Of The Office’)?
“The Demise Of The Office was added in right at the end. It was difficult to find a tag that would be amusing. It’s just a boring subject that I needed to find some humour in.
“I was looking for something to say about the Minke whale that died after swimming up the Thames, which was too upsetting to turn into humour. Once I decided to put these two stories together, it became very poignant. The empty streets tempted the Minke Whale to move in! It’s one of my favourite pages.
“To keep it light-hearted, I also gave an office block some rabbit ears, as if the building itself has died. The page about ‘Beer’ was fun, though the knowledge that 50 million pints went down the drains was a catastrophe that could have been avoided.”
Usually, your tributes raise a nostalgic smile, but do Covid-related tributes have to be more serious?
“There are only four people featured here that I know for sure died from Covid – Dr Li Wenliang, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Alexander Thynn and Captain Tom Moore – but I suspect that many others have had Covid but it’s just not been mentioned to the press as a cause of death.
“Four Covid cases out of a total 72 people is probably about a third of the proportion of Covid deaths to non-Covid deaths for the whole population, so we should have expected the number in this book to be about 12.
“I had considered including the first nurse and the first bus driver etc who died, but I don’t feel it would be appropriate to make entertainment out of such tragedy. Which makes me question why it seems appropriate to pay tribute in a humorous manner to celebrities. I do wonder if it is appropriate and whether or not they would choose to be included or not, but I can only guess at what their response might be.
“So, in answer to this question, I think the cause of death makes no difference as to the way I would represent the individual, except perhaps in the case of Dr Li Wenliang, whose demise was especially sad, unjust for political reasons, premature and included here to make a point about the gross ineptitude of the authorities and leaders in China, who could have mitigated the effects of the virus by making different decisions.
“In a broader sense, I hope that most of the individuals here, if they could make a comment, would like what I have done or at least find it mildly amusing, though some of the scribbled portraits might not really do the person justice!
“I would love to know what the Queen would think of my tribute to Prince Philip, but I’m not expecting a knighthood for it. We are very fortunate to live in a culture that allows freedom of expression without fear for our lives!”
Why will donations be going to St Leonard’s Hospice from the charity launch night?
“My father died of prostate cancer at the too early age of 76. Partly because he wasn’t diagnosed. I asked him if was angry about the disease and he told me to go and get a test. I felt sorry for him because he was in denial about his predicament.
“He simply carried on life as if there was nothing to concern himself about, but when the time came, he booked himself into a hospice and died the next day. I think the existence of the hospice allowed him to take control and make that decision. You cannot just book yourself into a hospital and who would want to?
“The hospice doctor simply chatted to him and asked him what he wanted, to which he answered, ‘ice cream’. He was dead two hours later. I’m proud of him for that. And I want to tell everyone that dying can be dignified and that the hospice movement do this very well.
“I have supported St Leonard’s Hospice ever since that day. The hospice is largely funded by donations from individuals, as well as government grants. I feel the hospice needs to have independence.”
Bertt deBaldock/Terry Brett launches Good Rabbits Gone 2 at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, on Saturday (16/10/2021) with a book-signing session and charity fundraiser for St Leonard’s Hospice from 11am to 3pm.
TO complement this season’s York Food and Drink Festival, here was the Food and Think fiesta, more talk than fork.
Jerusalem, Simple and Flavour cookery book writer Yotam Ottolenghi, London restaurateur and delicatessen doyen and Middle Eastern recipe magician for the Guardian, would be in the hot seat rather than serving up hot action on the hob this evening. Unlike the comedy-infused combination of cooking and conversation in The Hairy Bikers’ live shows, for example.
Instead, legs as elongated as his Ottolenghi surname as he took to his chair, Israeli-born chef Yotam settled elegantly into answering a series of home-cooking and London-in-lockdown questions from Observer journalist and Yotam enthusiast Rachel Cooke with charm, warmth and a studious disposition, yet one flavoured with amusement and observant humour.
Hosted by Penguin Books, with signed copies of Ottolenghi Flavour to be collected in the foyer afterwards in a ticket and book deal, the Cooke and the cook show was more than a plug for that “flavour-forward, vegetable-based” book, and thankfully there was no such “flavour-forward” jargon in raconteur Ottolenghi’s responses.
He was quick to dispel the myth he was a vegetarian, or indeed vegan, for all his famed love of preserved lemons, although how he elevates fruit and vegetables is key to his cooking, along with his love of less-appreciated ingredients such as the tang of sumac.
He recalled his Jerusalem upbringing as the son of a chemistry professor and high school principal, enjoying shopping in food markets and tending to his mother’s herb garden, and later his literature studies, before heading to Europe, first Amsterdam and then London, ostensibly to study further, but the call of the kitchen took over.
Inevitably, the discussion turned to the pandemic, when everything stopped for tea and every other meal chez Ottolenghi. The downside of lockdown for Yotam was all the “terrifying” uncertainty brought on by the requirement to shut his restaurants and the decision to do likewise with his delis, but the upside was time spent in the kitchen at home, reaching, like so many, to the back of the store cupboard to feed his young sons, Max and Flynn.
He kept the dishes simple, with his children as his tasting panel. Fellow members of his Ottolenghi Test Kitchen “superteam” did likewise, and the collective results are now in print, published on September 30, as Shelf Love.
He poured out his enthusiasm for hummus as you should have it, as a meal in itself with pitta and chickpeas, rather than that magnolia of supermarket tubs. This is what his audience of pans people came for: the inside knowledge on how to improve and how to improvise dishes, how to make the most of long-neglected polenta and wholegrain rice. From back of the cupboard to back of the net.
Ottolenghi’s 75 minutes of culinary chat concluded with a Q and A, where we discovered his favourite herb and spice – coriander and cumin respectively – and we vowed to take his advice to always add freshly chopped tomatoes to the tinned variety.
Yotam and York had come together for one night, a dinner date of sorts, but you should not expect the flowering of a beautiful relationship. Ever the controlling perfectionist, he likes to be within an hour’s reach of all his restaurants, ruling out expansion beyond London, he said.
You will just have to reach for his books instead on an ever-expanding shelf.