More Things To Do in and around York as festivals open and half-term attractions beckon. List No. 84, courtesy of The Press

Fourmidable: York children’s entertainer Josh Benson will perform four Just Josh shows a day at the York Spring Fair and Food Festival

BIG beards, food and funfairs galore, Irish whimsy, postcard art, tree theatre, Moronic music, female folk and a year’s notice of camp comedy catch Charles Hutchinson’s eye.

York Spring Festival and Food Fair, Clocktower Enclosure, York Racecourse, Knavesmire, York, running until June 5

IN its second year at York Racecourse, this event takes in the Platinum Jubilee long weekend celebrations to complement the 15 vintage funfair rides, food stalls,  live music and family entertainment, highlighted by the lighting of York’s Jubilee Beacon on Thursday evening.

Look forward to 6.30pm performances by York musicians Huge, The Y Street Band, Hyde Family Jam and New York Brass Band, plus Wales’s Old Time Sailors.

Busiest of all will be York children’s entertainer, “balloonologist”, juggler and magician Josh Benson, performing his high-energy Just Josh show four times a day. Tickets: ticketsource.co.uk/yorkspringfair.co.uk.

Jorvik Viking Festival: Invading forces take over York city centre for five days. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Half-term festival of the week: Jorvik Viking Festival, York, today until Wednesday

NEARLY two and a half years after hordes of Viking warriors and settlers last descended on the city, York is ready for five days of Norse-themed fun and entertainment. 

Moved from February to fit into the summer half-term holiday, the 2022 festival sees the return of a living history encampment, March to Coppergate, Strongest Viking and Best Beard contests and Poo Day at DIG, as well as a new arena event this evening, The Jorvik Games. For full festival details and tickets, go to: jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk. See full preview below.

Furious romp: The poster for Dylan Moran’s We Got This tour, visiting York tonight

Comedy gig of the week: Dylan Moran, We Got This, Grand Opera House, York, tonight, 8pm

DROLL Irish comedian Dylan Moran promises a joyously furious romp through the frustration and folly of modern-day life in his new tour show.

“These times have not been easy,” he says. “Learn how to make breakfast not even knowing you are out of bed. Diagnose the mirror, reason with the mice and boil yoghurt blindfolded. Enjoy the fruits of hurtling cognitive decline and your neighbours’ sprawling ghastliness, absence of humanity and so, so much more.” Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Postcards on the edge: Rows of original postcard artworks on sale at PICA Studios

Art event of the weekend: PICA Postcard Show and Sale, PICA Studios, Grape Lane, York, today and tomorrow, 10am to 4pm

THE artists at the PICA Studios workshop are branching out into one-off postcard artworks for one weekend only. Each postcard will sell for £25 to raise funds towards improving the studio space and to create a gallery in the foyer.

Taking part will be Lesley Birch, Evie Leach, Emily Stubbs, Katrina Mansfield, Ealish Wilson, Sarah Jackson, Ric Liptrot, Jo Edmonds, Lisa Power, Amy Stubbs, Mick Leach, Rae George, Lesley Shaw Lu Mason and Kitty Pennybacker. Purchases also can be made online via instagram@picastudios. 

Badapple Theatre Company’s poster for Danny Mellor’s Yorkshire Kernel at Theatre@41

Family drama of the weekend: Badapple Theatre Company in Yorkshire Kernel, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, today, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

JAMES’S Grandad is at death’s door, but he has one last mission: to find a tree. Many trees in fact, scattered around the country in memory of his Second World War comrades. So begins writer, performer and puppeteer Danny Mellor’s play for Green Hammerton company Badapple.

Divided between being haunted by his plain-speaking grandfather, his mother rekindling her romance with an old flame, and James’s pregnant partner, Rosie, thinking he is cheating on her, Mellor’s “bonkers” solo show undertakes a journey of Yorkshire wit and grit through one man’s determination to leave a long-lasting legacy. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

The Lovely Eggs: Playing The Crescent at the seventh attempt

Cracking gig of the week: The Lovely Eggs, supported by Arch Femmesis and Thick Richard, The Crescent, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

PROUDLY independent northern psychedelic punk rock duo The Lovely Eggs do not give up. After re-scheduling the tour to promote April 2020’s release of their I Am Moron album seven times, they play The Crescent at last this weekend.

Iggy Pop, no less, contributed to their track I, Moron. “For him just to say nothing but ‘moron’ over and over again fitted in with the sentiment of the song perfectly,” says Lovely Egg Holly Ross. “He just got it. We are all morons. In a world of moronic things. In a world of moronic ideas. You are Moron. I am Moron. We are Moron.” OK, Morons and Eggheads, tickets are on sale at thecrescentyork.com.

Rachel and Becky Unthank: York Barbican debut on Tuesday, showcasing new songs from Sorrows Away

Folk gigs of the week: The Unthanks, Sorrows Away Tour, York Barbican, Tuesday, 7.45pm; Katherine Priddy, supported by George Boomsma, National Centre for Early Music, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

RETURNING to touring after two years off the road, Northumbrian folk musicians The Unthanks will be previewing their upcoming autumn album Sorrows Away in their York Barbican debut with an 11-piece ensemble. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

The following night at the NCEM, finger-picking guitarist and haunting singer Katherine Priddy performs enchanting songs on the theme of childhood, distant memories and whatever will follow next from last June’s debut album, The Eternal Rocks Beneath. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

Katherine Priddy: Contemporary roots singer and guitarist, playing songs from The Eternal Rocks Beneath at the NCEM. Picture: Sam Wood

Gig launch of the week: Tom Allen, Completely, York Barbican, May 28 2023

YOU will have to wait 12 months for comedian, raconteur, arch television jester and radio presenter Tom Allen’s new show, Completely, to arrive in York. Tickets go on sale rather sooner, from 10am on Monday at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

At 38, Bromley-born Allen has finally moved out of his parents’ house, prompting his eagerness to share his life updates, gain audience opinions on his vegetable patch and delve into the protocol of inviting friends with children for dinner.

On the distant horizon: Tom Allen’s newly announced York Barbican show is a full year away

Jorvik Viking Festival returns with more fun and games…

TENTS for an encampment are being set up in Parliament Street and screens installed at the Eye of York. Traders are transporting their wares to the Guildhall and St Sampson’s Square and a faint smell of mead is wafting through the air. Welcome to the return of the Jorvik Viking Festival.

Nearly two and a half years after hordes of Viking warriors and settlers last descended on the city, York is preparing for five days of Norse-themed fun and entertainment, starting today (28/5/2022).

Postponed from February to fit snugly into the half-term holiday before the Jubilee bank holiday, this year’s festival will see the return of such favourite events as a living history encampment, the March To Coppergate and the Strongest Viking and Best Beard contests, alongside a new arena event at 6.45pm this evening, The Jorvik Games.

“In February, our evening spectacular is usually a dramatic presentation of a Viking story, but with the evenings being so much lighter in May, our event will also be a little more fun,” says event manager Gareth Henry.

Viking warriors ready for a clash of styles

 “The Viking Games will pit the finest warriors from four teams against each other, with spectators invited to pick their champion and cheer them on to victory. Henry. Of course, being Vikings, they might not always play by the rules – and with their own horde of supporters behind them on the arena field, sparks will fly with skirmishes inevitable!”

Tickets for The Jorvik Games are still available, priced £15 for adults and £11 for concessions, with family tickets also available at jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk.

While Saturday will be the festival’s busiest day, visitors from Sunday to Wednesday will enjoy a host of events and activities too.  On Sunday, at 29/31 Coney Street, visitors can meet Vikings from all over Europe, brought together under the Erasmus scheme, including fun crafting activities. 

Young warriors can hone their skills in Have-A-Go Sword sessions on the Parliament Street stage and the Ting Tang re-enactors will bring theatre to the stage every day too.

Five go Viking in York for five days

The last few places remain on crafting workshops taking place Monday to Wednesday at York Medical Society, on Stonegate, including Nalebinding (Viking knitting), Trichinopoly (wire weaving) and tablet weaving.

On Wednesday, Jorvik’s sister attraction, DIG in St Saviourgate, will host the ever-popular Poo Day, a chance for children (and adults!) to try their hand at making a replica Viking poo, based on the world-famous Lloyds Bank Coprolite (fossilised poo, should you be wondering). 

Jorvik Viking Centre’s exhibition of items from the Silverdale Hoard, on loan from Lancashire County Museums, is also expected to be popular, with tickets for the attraction selling out for many time slots throughout the half-term break. 

“With good weather forecast for the weekend, we’re expecting York to be particularly busy, so would urge visitors to pre-book their tickets wherever possible to avoid disappointment,” says Henry.

Full details of all Jorvik Viking Festival events can be found at jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk.

Is acerbic comic Tom Allen’s York Barbican show a whole year away? Completely, true

Completely, Tom Allen

YOU will have to wait 12 months for comedian, raconteur, arch television jester and radio presenter Tom Allen’s new show, Completely, to arrive at York Barbican.

Tickets will go on sale rather sooner, however, for his May 28 2023 show. Booking will open at 10am on Monday (30/5/2022) at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

At 38, Bromley-born Allen has finally moved out of his parents’ house: great news for him, better news for department stores and even better news for his latest stand-up tour, wherein he is eager to share his life updates, gain audience opinions on his vegetable patch and delve into the protocol of inviting friends with children for dinner.

Allen brings his signature acerbic wit and riotous storytelling, to hosting The Apprentice: You’re Fired, co-hosting Cooking With The Stars and the Like Minded Friends podcast and being a regular  on Bake Off: An Extra Slice and There’s Something About Movies.

His last tour sold more than 50,000 tickets, prompting the advice to book early, even when the York show is 366 days away. 

Tom Allen, Completely

Two Big Egos podcasters’ question of the day: How does Belle & Sebastian’s A Bit Of Previous match up to the best of Belle?

AFTER 26 years of “previous”, stalwart Scottish contrarians Belle & Sebastian release A Bit Of Previous. What’s their way ahead, judging by their latest album, recorded back home in Glasgow?

Two Big Egos In A Small Car culture podcasters Graham Chalmers (their fellow Scot) and Charles Hutchinson mull it over in Episode 91.

Plus: Predicting cinema’s dark future and all hail to New York art-rock pioneers The Velvet Underground. To listen, head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/10651348

More Things To Do in York and beyond when not only the Mouse will play in all weathers. List No. 83, courtesy of The Press

Behind you! Behind you: Will The Gruffalo pounce on Mouse in Tall Stories’ The Gruffalo?

POLITICS, the weather, monsters, Sixties and Eighties’ favourites, comedy songs and a north eastern tornado all are talking points for Charles Hutchinson for the week ahead.

Children’s show of the week: Tall Stories in The Gruffalo, Grand Opera House, York, today, 1pm and 3pm; tomorrow, 11am and 2pm

JOIN Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in Tall Stories’ magical, musical, monstrous adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture book, suitable for children aged three upwards.

Searching for hazelnuts, Mouse meets cunning Fox, eccentric old Owl and high-spirited Snake. Will the story of the terrifying Gruffalo save Mouse from becoming dinner for these hungry woodland creatures? After all, there is no such thing as a Gruffalo – or is there? Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

True or false: Is Tony Hadley playing York Barbican on Sunday? True!

Eighties’ nostalgia of the week: Tony Hadley, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm

I KNOW this much is true: smooth London crooner Tony Hadley is celebrating 40 years in the music business with a 2022 tour that focuses on both his Spandau Ballet and solo years.

Once at the forefront of the New Romantic pop movement, Islington-born Hadley, 61, is the velvet voice of hits such as True, Gold, Chant No. 1, Instinction and Paint Me Down and solo numbers Lost In Your Love and Tonight Belongs To Us. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Up and at’em, Fladam: York musical comedy duo Florence Poskitt and Adam Sowter

Comedy songs of the week: Fladam & Friends, Let’s Do It Again!, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, today at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

YORK musical comedy duo Fladam, alias Florence Poskitt and piano-playing partner Adam Sowter, vowed to return after last year’s Hootenanny, and return they will this weekend. But can they really “do it again?”, they ask. Is a sequel ever as good?

Mixing comic classics from Victoria Wood with fabulous Fladam originals, plus a sneak peak of this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe debut, this new show will “either be the Empire Strikes Back of musical comedy sequels or another case of Grease 2”. Tickets to find out which one: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Always take a brolly with you just in case: Mikron Theatre Company’s James Mclean, left, Hannah Bainbridge, Alice McKenna and Thomas Cotran on tour in Lindsay Rodden’s all-weathers play, Red Sky At Night. Picture: Liz Baker

Whatever the weather, nothing stops Mikron Theatre Company in Red Sky At Night, Scarcroft Allotments, York, Sunday, 2pm

HAYLEY’S sunny, beloved dad was the nation’s favourite weatherman. Now, she is following in his footsteps, joining the ranks of the forecasting fraternity, or at least local shoestring teatime telly.

When the pressure drops and dark clouds gather, Hayley melts faster than a lonely snowflake. She may be the future’s forecast, but will anyone listen in Lindsay Rodden’s premiere, toured by Marsden company Mikron’s 50th anniversary troupe of James Mclean, Hannah Bainbridge, Alice McKenna and Thomas Cotran. No tickets are required; a Pay What You Feel collection will be taken after the show.

Stop Stop Start: The Hollies’ rearranged 60th anniversary tour will arrive at York Barbican on Monday

Sixties’ nostalgia of the week: The Hollies, 60th Anniversary Tour, York Barbican, Monday, 7.30pm

MOVED from September 2021, with tickets still valid, this 60th anniversary celebration of the Manchester band features a line-up of two original members, drummer Bobby Elliott and lead guitarist Tony Hicks, joined by lead singer Peter Howarth, bassist Ray Stiles, keyboardist Ian Parker and rhythm guitarist Steve Lauri.

Expect He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, I Can’t Let Go, Just One Look, Bus Stop, I’m Alive, Carrie Anne, On A Carousel, Jennifer Eccles, Sorry Suzanne, The Air That I Breathe and more besides. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Giving an earful: Bettrys Jones’s Ellen Wilkinson MP, left, has a word with Laura Evelyn’s British Communist activist Isabel Brown in Red Ellen

A bit of politics of the week: Northern Stage in Red Ellen, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2pm, Thursday; 2.30pm, Saturday

CAROLINE Bird’s new play turns the overdue spotlight on “Mighty Atom” Ellen Wilkinson, the crusading Labour MP cast forever on the right side of history, but the wrong side of life.

Caught between revolutionary and parliamentary politics, Ellen fights with an unstoppable, reckless energy for a better world, whether battling to save Jewish refugees in Nazi Germany; leading 200 workers on the Jarrow Crusade; serving in Churchill’s war cabinet or becoming the first female Minister for Education. Yet somehow she still finds herself on the outside looking in.​ Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Steven Jobson, as Jekyll/Hyde, and Nicola Holliday, as Lucy Harris, in York Musical Theatre Company’s photocall for Jekyll & Hyde The Musical at York Castle Museum

Musical of the week: York Musical Theatre Company in Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm, Saturday matinee

BE immersed in the myth and mystery of London’s fog-bound streets where love, betrayal and murder lurk at every chilling twist and turn in Matthew Clare’s production of Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse’s musical adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s epic struggle between good and evil.

Steven Jobson plays the dual role of Dr Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde in the evocative tale of two men – one, a doctor, passionate and romantic; the other, a terrifying madman – and two women – one, beautiful and trusting; the other, beautiful and trusting only herself– both women in love with the same man and both unaware of his dark secret. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Coastal call: Sam Fender kicks off the 2022 season at Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Award winner of the week: Sam Fender, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, May 27, gates open at 6pm

WINNER earlier this week of the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for his Seventeen Going Under single, North Shields singer-songwriter Sam Fender opens the 2022 Scarborough Open Air Theatre summer season next Friday.

Already Fender, 28, has the 2022 Brit Award for Best British Alternative/Rock Act in his bag as he heads down the coast to perform his frank, intensely personal, high-octane songs from 2019’s Hypersonic Missiles and 2021’s Seventeen Going Under. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com. 

Podcasters’ question of the day: Just how pretentiously French is The Velvet Queen?

IS the French snow leopard documentary La Panthere Des Neiges (The Velvet Queen) the moist pretentious nature film of all time?

Two Big Egos In A Small Car culture podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson pass judgement in Episode 90.

What else is on their mind? Bono and The Edge go underground in Ukraine. What happens when critics change their mind on second acquaintance? Messums Gallery closes in Harrogate. Charm’s homecoming Karl Culley gig for the Harrogate Theatre restoration appeal.

To listen, head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/10615841

Podcast question of the day: Are Fontaines DC in too much of a hurry?

The album artwork for Fontaines DC’s Skinty Fia

AS album number three arrives so soon, why are the Irish band being as prolific as the early Beatles? Two Big Egos In A Small Car culture podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson discuss Skinty Fia in Episode 89.

Plus: what happens to the BBC when the licence fee ends? Anything else? Sheffield Leadmill update; The Divine Comedy at York Barbican review; Gary Barlow’s show with a difference, and why Mischief and Penn &Teller’s Magic Goes Wrong is wand-erful.

To listen, here is the link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/10570721

Paul Merton’s ad-libbing Impro Chums want a word with you on first travels since 2019

Paul Merton, front, and his Impro Chums Mike McShane, Richard Vranch, Kirsty Newton and Suki Webster

HAVE I Got News For You regular Paul Merton teams up with his Impro Chums to flex their off-the-cuff comedy muscles tonight at the Grand Opera House, York.

In their first antics roadshow since August 2019, seasoned improvisers Merton, Richard Vranch, Suki Webster and Mike McShane are accompanied by latest addition Kirsty Newton on piano.

“What audiences like about what we do is that we haven’t lost our sense of play, our sense of fun, the sort of thing that gets knocked out of you because you have to get married or get a mortgage or find a job,” says Merton. “We play and they enjoy watching us play.”

Let the adlibbing fun and games sparked by audience suggestions begin at 8pm, with tickets still available on 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Here, the Impro Chums discuss their return to the stage.

Do you expect Covid to be mentioned during a game?

Richard Vranch: “I did quite a few shows back at the Comedy Store after a 16-month break and weirdly it hasn’t come up from an audience in any of the suggestions. I’ve made a couple of jokes about it, because they were very funny, but other than that it hasn’t actually been mentioned.” 

Paul Merton: “My own view is that people would want to get away from it. Not every comedy show has to hold up a magnifying glass to society and be about how we live today. The whole idea of entertainment, for me, is to take you somewhere else, not to remind you of where you are.”

Suki Webster: “I think the particular form of comedy we do is about us having fun and being silly; it doesn’t lend itself to satire or in-depth discussion on difficult subjects because you’ve got four or five minds on stage all weaving in and out.

“The depth of it is in the joy and connection with each other and the audience. And we’re all so giddy with excitement at being back together that I can’t see it being a focus.”

 What have you missed about the touring life since 2019?

Richard: “The thing I’ve missed is laughter. I’ve been watching a load of telly and there has been wonderful stuff produced by an arts industry that has been having a hard time. But I’ve really missed laughing with mates on the bus on the way to the gig and on stage during the gig.” 

Mike McShane: “The last tour was exemplary for us as a group; it felt like a Marx Brothers show in the best way possible. We now had music from Kirsty [on her first tour] and it was all very nice. Getting on the bus, checking in on each other, hanging out, acting like idiots. And doing the show is fantastic and everything you hope for. “

What was your over-riding memory of Kirsty’s first Impro Chums tour of duty in 2019?

Kirsty Newton: “I felt as though I’d been let into the coolest, funnest club ever and we had such a wonderful time. My over-riding sense of it is that it’s probably the best job in the world; just consistent fun and loveliness all the way.

“I’d say I have the best seat in the house: I’m up close and personal with everyone on the stage and I get to direct the music, making them explode into song mid-scene. Quite often I don’t know what’s going to come out of my fingers; that’s the joy of it.” 

Paul: “To adapt an old saying, you can lead Paul Merton to music but you can’t make him sing. But it was great having Kirsty there and there was more music in that show than before. Mike and Suki are very strong singers and Richard is very musical, of course, but I stay out of the way.” 

Kirsty: “I have one brilliant memory of going through the Scottish Highlands and sticking my head out of the bus going, ‘this is wonderful’!” 

For a show without a script, how do you get the comedy muscle moving before the start?

Paul: “The most important thing is to be together beforehand. So, we’ll throw a ball around to be in each other’s orbit and to just tune in to each other.”

Richard: “The preparation for the show is the decades that we’ve known and worked together. With a scripted show or a rock band, you’d start to get ‘musical differences’ round about year 15. I think I first appeared on stage with Paul in 1984, and with impro it’s about a group attitude and sense of fun.

“Weirdly, that matures like a good cheese or wine over the years and doesn’t fester like a rock band. So, we put the work in by simply having done it for all this time and it just gets better and better.” 

How important is the audience to making an Impro Chums show the best it can be?

Suki: “If you’re doing a play or stand-up there’s a bit of us and them, but with our show it’s about everybody, because their energy and their suggestions build it in a way that no other show can have. Everything is happening in the moment and what they’re doing is absolutely crucial. When it goes right that means everyone is involved and having a good time. It’s like a big party!”

More Things To Do in York and beyond as Pinter’s pause and effect comes home to roost. List No 82, courtesy of The Press

Keith Allen: Homing in on The Homecoming arriving at York Theatre Royal on Monday

AVOIDING the “devastation of stag and hen parties” (copyright Rachael Maskell, York Central MP), Charles Hutchinson finds reasons aplenty to venture out.

Play of the week: Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, York Theatre Royal, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm; Thursday, 2pm; Saturday, 2.30pm

GAVIN & Stacey star Mathew Horne and Keith Allen star in Jamie Glover’s new production of The Homecoming, Harold Pinter’s bleakly funny 1965 exploration of family and relationships.

University professor Teddy returns to his North London childhood home from America, accompanied by his wife Ruth, to find his father, uncle and brothers still living there. As life becomes a barely camouflaged battle for power and sexual supremacy, who will emerge victorious: poised and elegant Ruth or her husband’s dysfunctional family? Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Tom Figgins: Introducing new material tonight at Stillington Mill. Picture: Daniel Harris

Outdoor gig of the week: Tom Figgins, Music At The Mill, Stillington Mill, near York, tonight, 7.30pm

SINGER-SONGWRITER Tom Figgins returns to At The Mill’s garden stage after last summer’s sold-out performance, with the promise of new material.

Figgins’ vocal range, guitar playing and compelling lyrics caught the ear of presenter Chris Evans, who hosted him on his BBC Radio 2 show and invited him to play the main stage at CarFest North & South.

His instrumental works have been heard on Countryfile and Panorama and he is the composer for the Benlunar podcast, now on its fourth series. Box office:  tickettailor.com/events/atthemill.

Martin Roscoe: Guest piano soloist for York Guildhall Orchestra

Classical concert of the week: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm

YORK Guildhall Orchestra’s final concert of their 2021-2022 season welcomes the long-awaited return of pianist Martin Roscoe, originally booked to perform in May 2020.

Retained from that Covid-cancelled programme are Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite, with its combination of cheeky jazz tunes and the Russian’s mastery of orchestration, and Dohnanyi’s mock-serious take on a children’s nursery rhyme. Leeds Festival Chorus join in for Elgar’s Music Makers. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Go West and Paul Young: Eighties’ revival at York Barbican

Eighties’ nostalgia of the week: Go West & Paul Young, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm

PETER Cox and Richard Drummer’s slick duo, Go West, and Luton soul singer Paul Young go north this weekend for a double bill of Eighties’ pop.

Expect We Close Our Eyes, Call Me, Don’t Look Down and King Of Wishful Thinking, from the Pretty Woman soundtrack, in Go West’s set. The chart-topping Wherever I Lay My Hat, Love Of The Common People, Everytime You Go Away and Everything Must Change will be on Young’s To Do list. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Wanting a word with you at the Grand Opera House

Fun and word games of the week: Paul Merton’s Impro Chums, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 8pm

HAVE I Got News For You regular and Comedy Store Players co-founder Paul Merton teams up with fellow seasoned improvisers Richard Vranch, Suki Webster and Mike McShane and accompanist Kirsty Newton to flex their off-the-cuff comedy muscles on their first antics roadshow travels since August 2019.

“What audiences like about what we do is that we haven’t lost our sense of play, our sense of fun, the sort of thing that gets knocked out of you because you have to get married or get a mortgage or find a job,” says Merton. Let the fun and games sparked by audience suggestions begin. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Hayley Ria Christian: All aboard her Midnight Train To Georgia for a night of Gladys Knight hits

Homage, not tribute show, of the week: Hayley Ria Christian in Midnight Train To Georgia, A Celebration Of Gladys Knight, Grand Opera House, York, Friday, 7.30pm

HAYLEY Ria Christian’s show is “definitely not a tribute, but a faithful portrayal that truly pays homage to the voice of a generation, the one and only Empress of Soul, Ms Gladys Knight”.

In the late Sixties and Seventies, Gladys Knight & The Pips enjoyed such hits as Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me, Help Me Make It Through The Night, Try To Remember/The Way We Were, Baby, Don’t Change Your Mind and her signature song Midnight Train To Georgia. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Milton Jones: International spy turned comedian in Milton: Impossible

Comedy gig of the week: Milton Jones in Milton: Impossible, Harrogate Theatre, May 21, 7.30pm

ONE man. One Mission. Is it possible? “No, not really,” says Kew comedian Milton Jones, the shock-haired matador of the piercing one-liner, as he reveals the truth behind having once been an international spy, but then being given a somewhat disappointing new identity that forced him to appear on Mock The Week.

“But this is also a love story with a twist, or at least a really bad sprain,” says Jones. “Is it all just gloriously daft nonsense, or is there a deeper meaning?”  Find out next weekend. Box office: 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

Grace Petrie: Carrying on the fight for a better tomorrow when every day you are told you have lost already

Protest gig of the week: Grace Petrie, The Crescent, York, May 23, 7.30pm

DIY protest singer Grace Petrie emerged from lockdown with Connectivity, her 2021 polemical folk album that reflects on what humanity means in a world struggling against division and destruction.

Petrie’s honest songs seek a way to carry on the fight for a better tomorrow when every day you are told you have lost already. Bad news: her York gig has sold out. Good news: she will be playing Social, Hull, too on May 18 at 8pm (box office, seetickets.com). On both nights, she will be accompanied by long-time collaborator, singer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Moss.

Taking trouble at At The Mill to build a community for the arts and the people

Daniel Kitson: Testing out new material in six Outside performances at Stillington Mill

SUMMER At The Mill is returning for a second season of creative, culinary and community events in the gardens of Stillington Mill, Stillington, near York.

“After the spectacular, gorgeous, fun, exciting, beautiful and heart-warming time we had throughout our inaugural summer last year – what a ride! – we’re over the moon to present the mixed bag of goodies that is Summer At The Mill 2.0,” says programmer, theatre director, writer and performer Alexander Flanagan-Wright.

“Until September 4, we’ll be hosting a load of wonderful events all about community, art, food and flipping good times. We’ll have a pop-up café and bar, community gatherings, theatre, music, comedy, supper clubs and special events.”

The “Wright stuff” is the work of outdoor theatre co-builder Alex, sister Abbigail Ollive (Saturday café cuisine queen and supper club supremo) and their retired headteacher parents Maggi and Paul Wright, together with partners Megan Drury and Paul Smith. That “stuff” also takes in weddings, events and shepherd’s hut accommodation: truly a village cottage industry, you could say, albeit somewhat larger than a cottage.

A Supper Club gathering at At The Mill

“We just had a blast summer,” says Alex. “It was kind of by accident. It felt very serendipitous or of its moment, saying, ‘here is a way we can gather safely, our local community and the arts community, post-lockdown’.

“So this summer is a chance to see if people still care, and so far the evidence is that they do, with the return of the busy Saturday café, the Crafty Tales show [The Case Of The Missing Bunny] that sold out, our Pizza & Cocktail Night and the Dance Dance Dance Big Bank Holiday Silent Disco.

“Last year felt like a huge rush of adrenaline, and then you think, ‘OK, where do we go forward this year for beautiful experiences together?’. Already this year, we’re meeting new people coming to the events and the café.”

Summing up the essence of At The Mill, Alex says: “We believe a feeling of community is so important when people want to have an evening out. Whereas commercial theatre can feel merely transactional, with us, the means is the art, but the end result is a sense of community, and that feels the right way round.

Alexander Flanagan-Wright: At the heart of At The Mill

“On top of that, eating outside together, drinking outside together, is a lovely thing to do, and we have the space and setting to do that.”

Where once Stillington Mill’s 18th century mill would produce flour, now the At The Mill combines food with food for thought, new recipes at the Supper Club, new works on stage. “We’re very clear with the artists about that. Everyone we’ve asked, we’ve said, ‘we think you’re cool, we like your work, do you want to come and play with us?’,” says Alex.

“What we have in abundance is space and time, imagination and a community. What we don’t have in abundance is cash, but we find most performers end up walking away with cash in their pocket.

“We don’t say to them, bring a particular show. What you get instead is artists testing out new material, so it becomes a genuine relationship with the audience built around nurturing new work. We’re seeking an equal balance between the two communities, where they care about each other, and if we do our part well in bringing them together, then they will meet in a beautiful way, and hopefully that process is more valuable, than, say, a Q&A session in a theatre.”

The Saturday cafe at At The Mill, baked by Abbigail Ollive

Alex continues: “Hopefully too, we’re going to be able to sustain that culture of being able to welcome artists for whatever they want to try out, and of audiences being continually excited about seeing new work at such an early stage, performed by people they wouldn’t expect to be passing through their village.”

A case in point is Edinburgh Fringe favourite Daniel Kitson, the Denby Dale stand-up comedian, who asked to take part in the Theatre At The Mill programme after he was tipped off by storytelling performer Sam Freeman.

“Daniel got in touch to say hello, could he come and do a show? I don’t know what the show is about; I don’t know if Daniel does yet, but that feels a pretty exciting thing to be going on, and testament to our aim for brilliant performers to test out their work to our community,” says Alex.

“I’m also aware that there will be those who don’t know who Daniel Kitson is and would just see him as someone standing up in a garden! But it feels beautiful to know that his shows in May will be his first in two years and it’s great to be part of that work-in-progress experience.”

Chris Stokes: Storytelling comedy in Lockdown Detective at At The Mill on May 26

Clearly, plenty of people know exactly who Daniel Kitson is: his 8pm performances of Outside on May 23 to 25 have sold out already and his June 8 to 10 run looks close to following suit.

What’s in store from Kitson? Here’s the show blurb: “Daniel hasn’t been on stage for over two years. And, to be entirely honest, he’s not really missed it. It is, however, his actual job and everyone’s gone back to work now. So, he’s picked out a comfy pen, bought a new notebook and booked himself a summer’s worth of outdoor shows to find out whether he can still do his job and what, if anything, he has to say to large groups of people he doesn’t know.”

Given his performing hiatus and lack of practice, Kitson predicts the shows are “likely to be relatively rickety affairs”. “But Daniel’s already written the question ‘Do worms feel fear?’ in his new notebook, so we should be okay,” the blurb adds. “Also, if it gets boring – you can just use the time to look at the sky and feel small.”

At The Mill’s role in nurturing new work ties in with Alex’s own creativity as a writer and director, whether directing The Flanagan Collective, heading off to Australia with songwriter/musician/performer/magician Phil Grainger or spending last September to December in New York, making the immersive piece Tammany Hall for the Soho Playhouse.

Gary Stewart: Hosting regular Folk Club nights at At The Mill

“We meet loads of brilliant people when touring our work, and it’s great that they want to come here to test new pieces,” he says. “We’re delighted that people will hone shows here just before the Edinburgh Fringe kicks off, or will do shows here that aren’t going to Edinburgh but fit that vibe.”

Picking out upcoming highlights, singer-songwriterTom Figgins follows up last summer’s gig – his first in four years – with a return tomorrow; Chris Stokes’s storytelling comedy show, Lockdown Detective, is booked in for May 26, and Scottish musician Gary Stewart, now resident in nearby Easingwold, will host his regular Folk Club night on May 27, June 24 and July 8.

“For his first night, it’ll be just Gary and his guitar, performing Paul Simon songs solo rather than with his Graceland band. It’s lovely for us that a local musician, who’s internationally renowned, came here and said, ‘I want to play here every month and bring acts here regularly’,” says Alex.

At The Mill’s ERII Platinum Jubilee celebrations will take in Jubilee Jubilee, A Very Jubilant Cabaret, on June 3 and A Right Royal Knees Up, with live music and pizza, on June 5.

Maddie Morris: 2019 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winner, playing a Music At The Mill gig for the first time

Leeds folk duo Maddie Morris & Lilian Grace will make their At The Mill debut on June 12, performing together as Death And The Daughter and playing solo works too. Their 2022 project, The Sticky Monsters, is influenced by the artwork of Swedish artist John Kenn and their compositions deal with childhood, poverty and more general reflections on culture and the idea of fear.

“I saw Maddie, the 2019 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winner, at The Courthouse, Rural Arts’ home in Thirsk, and she’s an absolute folk musician, studying folk music at Leeds University and looking at contemporary politics through the lens of the folk tradition,” says Alex.

Gemma Curry’s York company Hoglets Theatre will perform the children’s show The Sleep Pirates on June 19 (10am to 1pm); York spoken-word collective Say Owt will host a poetry-writing workshop on June 25 (5pm), followed by an evening showcase (7.30pm); Heady Conduct will combine physical storytelling with live music to tell the Greek myth of Tiresias on July 10, and Paperback Theatre will stage their charming account of roguish Toad’s misadventures, The Wind In The Willows, on July 30 at 2.30pm and 7pm.

Alex himself has a couple of contributions to the season: Monster, a work-in-progress new story, on June 16 and 17, and The Gods The Gods The Gods, the Wright and Grainger show whose Australian premiere tour was curtailed by the pandemic, now making its British debut on July 23, 24, 27 and 28 at 8.45pm.

Gemma Curry in Hoglets Theatre’s The Sleep Pirates

“In its full iteration, it’s a big, heavy show, but this will be a lighter version before we take it to the Edinburgh Fringe,” says Alex of the final work in Wright & Grainger’s trilogy of myths, after Orpheus and Eurydice, both sell-outs at last summer’s At The Mill season.

The Gods The Gods The Gods, with its four stories and 14 compositions, corals big beats, soaring melodies and heart-stopping spoken words as it “calls us to the crossroads where mythology meets real life”.

“The Gods are gathering and you’re invited,” says Alex. “We’re excited about testing it out here, to wrangle up the story, to see that all the text and music works, and then add lights for Edinburgh, where we’ll be doing it in the Assembly’s 200-seat spiegeltent.”

The Mill’s summer programme will continue to add new events, with full details, including tickets, at athemill.org. Shows start at 7.30pm unless stated otherwise.

The Flanagan Collective’s Alexander Flanagan-Wright and Gobbledigook Theatre’s Phil Grainger staging Orpheus and Eurydice at At The Mill’s socially-distanced summer season in 2021. Picture: Charlotte Graham

We’re All Doomed!…but not before Daniel Powell’s end-of-the-world tour hits York

Doomed: Comedian, writer, radio presenter and YouTube star Daniel Howell

DOOM’S day is booked for Friday, September 16 2022, when gloomy YouTube channel phenomenon Daniel Howell delivers his End Of The World Tour pronouncements at York Barbican.

Tickets for Howell’s darkly comic stage show We’re All Doomed! go on sale on the aptly apocalyptic, unlucky-for-some Friday the 13th from 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Who is Daniel Howell, you ask?  He has more than six million subscribers to his YouTube channel, and when announcing his comeback after a three-year hiatus, his accompanying video surpassed 1.5 million views in 24 hours.

We’re All Doomed! will find Howell “as stressed and depressingly dressed as ever” in a night of savage self-deprecation, soul-searching and over-sharing his deepest fears and desires, when he invites you to become part of a community of doomers sharing the final days as he “tours the world while it’s still here”.

The End Of The World is nigh but when? Take your pick on Daniel Howell’s tour

“When there’s so many apocalyptic scenarios threatening to destroy us, it might be tempting to give into the gloom,” his tour publicity machine spouts. “But with enough sarcasm, satire, and a desire to skewer everything that’s wrong with society, Daniel is determined to find some hope for humanity…or at least laugh like it’s the end of the world because it probably is.”

 Howell has expressed his outlook on life in books and an award-winning show on BBC Radio 1, while clocking up billions of views of his online content and performing high-concept comedy to 500,000 people in 18 countries.

He may make jokes at his own expense, but Howell has shared his serious struggles with his sexuality and mental health too, culminating in his Gay And Not Proud special and his chart-topping bestseller, You Will Get Through This Night, a no-nonsense guide to looking after your sanity, as well as being an ambassador for Stonewall and Young Minds.

Come September, We’re All Doomed! will “demand we honestly accept the fate of humanity with all the apocalypses threatening to consume us – and if we can’t find a reason to feel hopeful for the future, at least laugh like it’s the end of the world…because it probably is”. Even more so now than in the earlier sentence with exactly the same sentiment.