Simon Amstell to head down Spirit Hole at Grand Opera House, York, on autumn tour

Simon Amstell: Playing York, Leeds and Sheffield on Spirit Hole tour

SIMON Amstell will play the Grand Opera House, York, on September 25 on the introspective, abjectly honest comedian, television host, actor, writer and filmmaker’s 38-date Spirit Hole autumn tour.

These shows add up to his first stand-up comedy travels since the 2019 release of his debut bittersweet comedy-drama film, Benjamin, written and directed by Amstell, and his soul-searching 2019 Netflix stand-up special, Set Free.

Agent provocateur Amstell, 41, will deliver a “blissful, spiritual, sensational exploration of love, sex, shame, mushrooms and more” on a tour with further Yorkshire gigs at The Leadmill, Sheffield, on September 12 and Leeds Town Hall on October 1. York tickets are on sale at atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york/; York, Sheffield and Leeds at ticketmaster.com.  

Amstell, former saucy host of cult BBC2 pop quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks, previously played the Grand Opera House in May 2008, October 2009 on his Do Nothing tour and May 2012 on his Numb tour.

Six facts about Simon Amstell

Born: Gants Hill, Ilford, Essex, November 29 1979.

Comedy breakthrough: After making stand-up debut at 13 in the wake of parents’ divorce, complicated childhood and confusion aroused by puberty, he became youngest finalist in BBC New Comedy Awards in 1998.

Presenting roles: Nickolodeon (sacked for being “sarcastic and mean to children”, he says); Popworld, Channel 4; and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, BBC2.

TV series: Grandma’s House, from 2010, playing Simon, a mildly self-obsessed, claustrophobic narcissist, trying desperately to heal his broken family in order to feel something real in his life.

Book: Help, subtitled Comedy. Tragedy. Therapy., published in January 2019, with Amstell’s aim of “telling the truth so it can’t hurt me anymore”, driven by compulsion to reveal his entire self on stage. Loneliness, anxiety, depression feature prominently, but you will “then feel happier than you have ever been”.

Film: Carnage, about veganism, written, directed and narrated by Amstell, set in utopian 2067, where animals live equally among humans. Premiered on BBC in March 2017.

More Things To Do in and around York as corny summer panto ride arrives at a maze. List No. 42, courtesy of The Press, York

Detective at work: Sir David Suchet will dig up his past at York Theatre Royal in October

SUMMER panto in a maze, David Suchet on Poirot, Yorkshire Day celebrations, a SeedBed of new ideas, riverside art, a cancer charity fundraiser and comedy at the double catch Charles Hutchinson’s eye.

New signing of the week: David Suchet, Poirot And More – A Retrospective, York Theatre Royal, October 13, 3pm and 8pm

SIR David Suchet retraces his steps as a young actor in his 20-theatre tour of Poirot And More, A Retrospective, where he looks back fondly at his five-decade career, shedding a new, intimate light on his most beloved performances.

Geoffrey Wansell, journalist, broadcaster, biographer and co-author of Poirot And Me, interviews the actor behind the detective and the many characters Suchet has portrayed on stage and screen. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Joshing around: After York Theatre Royal’s Travelling Pantomime last Christmas, now Josh Benson s magic beans have created the new Crowmania Ride summer panto at York Maze

Summer pantomime on wheels? Yes, on York Maze’s Crowmania Ride until September 6. Maze opening hours: 10am to 6.30pm; last admission, 3.30pm

CORNTROLLER of Entertainment Josh Benson is the creative mind behind the new Crowmania Ride at York Maze, Elvington Lane, York.

York Maze reopened for the first time since 2019 on July 17, with York actor, magician, comedy turn and pantomime star Benson and his team of actors taking the redeveloped Crowmania attraction “to a new level” on a trailer towed by a tractor every 20 to 30 minutes from 11am to 5pm. “The scariest thing is the bad puns!” promises director of operations David Leon.

In a 20-minute pantomime on wheels, Crowmania’s loose plot involves The Greatest Crowman encouraging the crows to eat farmer Tom’s corn, while his villainy stretches to creating genetically modified corn-based creatures too. Expect theatrical set-pieces, multitudinous curious animatronics and special effects. 

Erika Noda: Reflecting on her dual heritage on tonight’s SeedBed bill at At The Mill, Stillington

“Fantastic nights of artistic creation”: SeedBed at At The Mill, Stillington, near York, tonight until Saturday, 7pm to 10pm nightly

BILLED as “New Work. Good Food. Big Conversations”, the first ever SeedBed promises three nights, three different line-ups, three opportunities to see new ideas on their first outings, each hosted by Polly from Jolly Allotment, who will cook a nutritious supper each evening and discuss nourishment.

Tonight features At The Mill’s resident artists, plus Paula Clark’s class-and-disadvantage monologue Girl, Jack Fielding’s stilt act in Deus and Erika Noda’s Ai, examining growing up dual heritage in predominantly white York.

Tomorrow combines Robert Douglas Finch’s Songs Of Sea And Sky; Jessa Liversidge’s Looping Around set of folk tunes, original songs and layered looping and Henry Bird’s combo of classical poetry extracts and his own words.

Saturday offers The Blow-Ins’ A Gentle Breeze, an acoustic Celtic harp and guitar set, to be experienced in silence; Gong Bath, a session of bathing in the sound of gongs, and Jessa Liversidge’s second Looping Around (Your Chance To Sing) session.

Papillon, by Adele Karmazyn, who is taking part in Saturday’s York River Art Market

York River Art Market, Dame Judi Dench Walk, by Lendal Bridge, York, Saturday and Sunday, 10.30am to 5.30pm

MORE than 30 artists and makers will take part in days five and six of this summer’s riverside weekend art markets, organised by York abstract painter and jewellery designer Charlotte Dawson.

Given the busy traffic across both days last weekend, Charlotte is considering doing more full weekends next year rather than the present emphasis on Saturdays.

Among Saturday’s artists will be York digital photomontage artist and 2021 YRAM poster designer Adele Karmazyn and Kwatz, the small indie fashion label directed by Amanda Roseveare. 

On Sunday, look out for York College graphics tutor Monica Gabb’s Twenty Birds range of screen prints, tea towels, mugs, cards, bags and hanging decorations; York artist Linda Combi’s illustrations and Louise Taylor Designs, travelling over from Lancashire with her floral-patterned textile designs for cushions, tea towels, oven gloves and more besides.

Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie: Headlining Meadowfest

Festival of the week: Meadowfest, Malton, Saturday, 10am to 10pm

MALTON, alias “Yorkshire’s food capital”, plays host to the Meadowfest boutique summer music and street fodder festival this weekend in the riverside meadows and gardens of the Talbot Hotel.

On the bill, spread over two stages, will be headliners Lightning Seeds, Arthur “The God of Hellfire” Brown, York party band Huge, Ben Beattie’s After Midnight Band, Flatcap Carnival, Hyde Family Jam, Gary Stewart, Penny Whispers, The Tengu Taiku Drummers and more besides.

“Expect a relaxed festival of uplifting sunshine bands, all-day feasting and dancing like no-one’s watching,” says the organisers. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/visitmalton/

Forge Zine and Hallmark Theatre present Yorkshire Day: Night Of Arts! at The Crescent community venue in York on Sunday

Marking God’s Own Country’s wonderfulness: Yorkshire Day: Night Of Arts!, The Crescent, York, Sunday, 8pm

FORGE Zine and Hallmark Theatre band together for a Yorkshire Day night of creativity, fun and varied entertainment, replete with actors, musicians, writers and artists.

Expect spoken word, visual art, live music, scene extracts and comedy on a pleasant, relaxed, wholly Yorkshire evening, bolstered by the chance to buy artworks and books. Box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com.

Steve Cassidy: Joining up with friends for the Songs And Stories For York Against Cancer fundraiser

Fundraiser of the week: Songs And Stories For York Against Cancer, with Steve Cassidy Band and friends, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

A NIGHT of songs and stories by some of York’s best-known performers, who “celebrate a return to normality” by supporting a charity that helps others still on the road to recovery.

Taking part will be Steve Cassidy, Mick Hull, John Lewis, Billy Leonard, Graham Hodge, Graham Metcalf, Geoff Earp and Ken Sanderson. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Sara Barron: Playing York, Leeds and Selby on her debut British tour of Enemies Closer

Barron nights: Sara Barron on autumn tour in Yorkshire in Enemies Closer

AMERICAN comedian Sara Barron examines kindness, meanness, ex-boyfriends, current husbands, all four remaining friends and two of her 12 enemies in Enemies Closer at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, on October 9.

Further Yorkshire gigs on Barron’s debut British tour will be at Sheaf St, Leeds, on October 20 and Selby Town Hall on September 29.

“Touring this show is truly the fulfilment of a dream,” says Barron. “Come if you dig an artful rant. Stay at home if think you’re ‘a positive person’.” Box office: York, at tickets.41monkgate.co.uk; Leeds and Selby, via berksnest.com/sara.

In need of a reviving cuppa: Omid Djalili has just had to change his Pocklington plans for a second time

Third time lucky: Omid Djalili moves Pocklington gigs again, this time to 2022

OMID Djalili’s brace of shows on July 22 at Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) have been moved to May 18 and 19 next spring.

British-Iranian comedian, actor, television producer, presenter, voice actor and writer Djalili, 55, originally had been booked for this month’s cancelled Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington.

He subsequently agreed to do two shows in one night at PAC to ensure all those who had purchased tickets for his festival gig would not miss out. The uncertainty brought on by the Government’s delay to Step 4 scuppered those plans. Tickets remain valid for the new dates.

Comedian Omid Djalili rearranges July’s Pocklington Arts Centre gigs for next May

Taking the mic…in 2022: Omid Djalili rearranges Pocklington visit for a second time

OMID Djalili’s brace of postponed shows on July 22 at Pocklington Arts Centre has been moved to May 18 and 19 2022.

British-Iranian comedian, actor, television producer, presenter, voice actor and writer Djalili, 55, originally had been booked for this month’s cancelled Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington.

When Pocklington Arts Centre’s festival organisers, director Janet Farmer and venue manager James Duffy, decided not to stage the large-scale indoor festival under the continuing pandemic cloud, award-winning Djalili agreed to do two shows in one night at PAC to ensure all those who had purchased tickets for his festival gig would not miss out.

Significantly too, those 7pm and 9pm performances would have been without social-distancing measures, but after the Government’s delay in Step 4 from June 21 to July 19 left uncertainty in the air, the shows were re-scheduled for next spring.

Tickets for the original event at Platform Festival remain valid and any ticket holder needing further information should contact the box office on 01759 301547. Those who selected the 7pm show on July 19 are now allocated to May 18; 9pm tickets to May 19. Remaining tickets for the new dates cost £25 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

When Djalili’s shows go ahead, third time lucky, expect intelligent, provocative, fast-talking, boundlessly energetic comedic outbursts rooted in cultural observations, wherein he explores the diversity of modern Britain.

American comedian Sara Barron promises artful rant on meanness in Enemies Closer on debut tour at York, Selby and Leeds

Barron nights: American comic Sara Barron to play York, Leeds and Selby on 30-date British tour. Pictures: Karla Gowlett

AMERICAN comedian Sara Barron examines kindness, meanness, ex-boyfriends, current husbands, all four remaining friends and two of her 12 enemies in Enemies Closer at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, on October 9.

Further Yorkshire gigs on Barron’s debut British tour from October 2 to November 14 will be at Sheaf Street, Leeds, on October 20 and Selby Town Hall on September 29 on .

As an American comic, I can’t be like, ‘Yeehaw, this tour is gonna be awesome’ without forcing my UK audience into a full-body cringe,” says Sara, from Chicago, Illinois. “But. May I just say…I think it *will* be awesome, but I’m saying it in an ‘I-live-in-Britain-and-buy-all-my-bras-from-M&S’ kinda way. 

“The UK comedy scene is one of my great beloveds – alongside crafty passive-aggression – so touring this show is truly the fulfilment of a dream. Come if you dig an artful rant. Stay at home if think you’re ‘a positive person’. I hope to see you there!”

“Come if you dig an artful rant, Stay at home if think you’re ‘a positive person’,” advises Sara Barron

Barron first performed the no-holds-barred Enemies Closer at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe, having made her Edinburgh debut with For Worse in 2018, when she was nominated for Best Newcomer in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards and Chortle Awards. Two sold-out runs of For Worse ensued at the Soho Theatre, London.

She has since appeared on the BBC’s Live At The Apollo, Would I Lie To You?, Frankie Boyle’s New World Order and Richard Osman’s House Of Games; Channel 4’s 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Dave’s Hypothetical.

On radio, Sara’s credits include BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz, The Now Show, Where’s The F In News? and Woman’s Hour and BBC Radio Scotland’s Breaking News; she has published two essay collections, People Are Unappealing and The Harm In Asking, and her writing has featured in Vanity Fair and on This American Life.

In New York City, frequently she has hosted the cult storytelling show, The Moth: True Stories Told Live.

York tickets for Enemies Closer are on sale at tickets.41monkgate.co.uk; Leeds and Selby tickets, via berksnest.com/sara.

What’s on at The Crescent in York tonight? Mark Watson, but his 8pm gig has sold out

Mark Watson: Instructions on How You Can Almost Win at The Crescent. Picture: Matt Crockett

COMEDIAN Mark Watson marks the return of full-capacity gigs at The Crescent community venue, York, with a sold-out 8pm show tonight.

York promoter Al Greaves’ Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Bristol-born Watson, 41, in How You Can Almost Win. Doors open at 7pm.

Watson says: “In 2017, I went on the show The Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls. It involved being abandoned on an island, starved half to death, almost struck by lightning, cut off from all loved ones and turned into a psychological wreck. I was pretty sure it was the most challenging situation I would ever be in. Then, in 2020, the entire planet basically went into survival-show mode.”

As we crawl from the wreckage of the pandemic, tonight Watson dispenses droplets of wisdom brought back from his island misadventure to suggest ways we can adapt. “But still with jokes,” he promises.

Mark Watson, in his pyjamas, sharing the screen with show host Tim FitzHigham at the first Your Place Comedy livestream in April 2020

During the first lockdown last year, Watson was part of the first double bill for Your Place Comedy, the virtual comedy club set up to support independent venues across the Yorkshire and Humber region.

On April 19 2020, a pyjama-clad Watson and Hull humorist Lucy Beaumont performed live online from their homes, in his case, in the living room, in hers, down the pub, The Dog And B**tard, that she and fellow comedian husband Jon Richardson have set up in their Hebden Bridge garden.

Watson, comedian, novelist, sports pundit, Taskmaster survivor and No More Jockeys cult leader, is noted for cramming spiritual enquiries, high-octane observational comedy and pathological overthinking into his evenings of stand-up.

“Henry Moore makes statements but Barbara Hepworth makes art…”

Barbara Hepworth in her studio

AS The Hepworth, in Wakefield, plays host to a major Barbara Hepworth retrospective, Two Bigs Egos In A Small Car podcasters Chalmers & Hutch discuss Yorkshire’s great sculptors.

Elsewhere, PINGDEMONIUM! What next for arts and culture amid Covid chaos and show cancellations?

Vanguard Bristol Street Art and Colston on-his-side- shows at M Shed, Bristol: do sculptures still stand up or are murals THE sign of the times?

To listen, head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/8892619

More Things To Do in and around York when not banished to ‘see you later, self-isolator’. List No. 41, courtesy of The Press, York

Rick Astley: Soul favourite’s post-racing show is a definite runner at York Racecourse tomorrow evening

IT ain’t worth a thing if it got that confounded ping, but let’s hope this NHS Covid app hazard does not apply to any of Charles Hutchinson’s suggestions as Step 4 starts to kick in.

Outdoor concerts of the week in York: York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend, Rick Astley, Friday evening; McFly, Saturday late-afternoon

YORK Racecourse was never gonna give up on Rick Astley performing on a race day, even if the original show had to fall by the wayside last summer. Sure enough, the Newton-le-Willows soul crooner, 55, has been re-booked for tomorrow for a post-racing live set.

McFly: Promising Young Dumb Thrills at York Racecourse on Saturday

After Saturday afternoon’s race card, the re-formed McFly will combine such favourites as All About You, Obviously and 5 Colours In Her Hair with songs from their 2020 return, Young Dumb Thrills, such as Happiness, Tonight Is The Night and You’re Not Special. The County Stand has reached capacity for Saturday already.

Friday’s racing starts at 6pm; Saturday, at 2.05pm. For tickets, go to: yorkracecourse.co.uk.

Rachel Podger: The violinist plays, after self-isolation, for online viewing from the York Early Music Festival. Picture: Theresa Pewal

Online concert home entertainment of the week: Rachel Podger, The Violinist Speaks, York Early Music Festival

WHEN Baroque violinist Rachel Podger fell victim to the dreaded “pingdemic”, she had to forego her July 13 concert performance, condemned to self-isolate instead.

In stepped Florilegium violinist Bojan Cicic to play the very same Bach, Tartini and Biber repertoire at St Lawrence Church, Hull Road, at only three hours’ notice.

Rachel, however, subsequently recorded The Violinist Speaks without an audience at the NCEM for a digital livestream premiere at 7.30pm last Saturday. This online concert is now available on demand until August 13; on sale until August 9 at:  ncem.co.uk/events/rachel-podger-online/ncem.co.uk

Twinnie: Twinning with Velma Celli for tomorrow’s double bill at Impossible York

York’s queen of vocal drag meets York’s country queen: The Velma Celli Show with special guest Twinnie, Impossible York, St Helen’s Square, York, tomorrow, 7pm, doors; show, 8pm

YORK’S international drag diva deluxe, Velma Celli, will be joined by country singer Twinnie at The Velma Celli Show at Impossible York on her return home from recording sessions for her second album in Nashville.

“My mate and fellow Yorky the awesome Twinny is my v. special guest tomorrow night at Impossible – York,” says Velma, the cabaret creation of Ian Stroughair, on Instagram. Like Ian, Twinnie has starred in West End musicals, most notably in Chicago, under her stage name Twinnie-Lee Moore.

Tickets cost £15, £20 for VIP stage seating, at ticketweb.uk.

Michael Lambourne: Fenland storyteller at Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, this weekend

Storytellers of the week: Michael Lambourne and Shona Cowie, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Saturday and Sunday

NOT that long ago a familiar bearded face and booming voice on the York stage before heading south, Michael Lambourne will return north on Saturday to present the 7.30pm premiere of Black Shuck, a “responsive storytelling experience” based on the legend of the Demon Dog of East Anglia.

Penned and performed by Lambourne, Black Shuck is the tale of a hound of unnatural size, an omen of misfortune to those who see its eyes, wherein he explores the enduring effect it has on Fenland folklore in a personal account of how a rural myth can become a chilling part of the present day.

Scottish storyteller and physical performer Shona Cowie will open the evening with her Celtic tale of the dreamer and visionary Bruadarach and then present Beware The Beasts, a show for families (age five upwards), at 2pm on Sunday. 

Shona will provide case studies from leading monster evaders and offer instruction on the most effective ways to avoid being squashed, eaten or turned into a nugget. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/. 

Ralph Fiennes in TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, on tour at York Theatre Royal next week

First full-capacity shows at York Theatre Royal since mid-March 2020: Ralph Fiennes in T S Eliot’s Four Quartets, July 26 to 31

YORK Theatre Royal will return to full-capacity audiences with effect from Monday’s performance of T S Eliot’s Four Quarters, performed and directed by Ralph Fiennes.

Good news for those who had missed out on tickets for the most in-demand production of the reopening Love Season when it was first put on sale with social distancing in place. This week’s unlocking of Step 4 frees up the sudden availability of seats aplenty.

Please note, however, the wearing of face coverings will be strongly encouraged; some safety measures will continue too, but not temperature checks on the door.

Wall art: The poster for Miles And The Chain Gang’s first gig in York in 18 months. Picture: Jim Poyner

Back on the Chain Gang: Miles And The Chain Gang, supported by King Courgette, The Fulford Arms, York, July 29, 8pm

AFTER an 18-month hiatus. York band Miles And The Chain Gang will return to the concert platform next week, tooled up with new material.

In the line-up are singer, songwriter, storyteller, published poet and radio presenter Miles Salter, on guitar and vocals, Billy Hickling, drums and percussion, Tim Bruce, bass, and Alan Dawson, lead guitar, augmented for this gig by Fay Donaldson’s flute and saxophone.

The Gang have been working on a debut album, recording with producer Jonny Hooker at Young Thugs Studios in York. Tickets cost £7 at thefulfordarms.co.uk or £8 on the door. 

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s poster for next week’s brace of Gilbert and Sullivan shows

Fundraiser of the week ahead: Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company Does Gilbert And Sullivan, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, HMS Pinafore, July 29, 7.30pm, and July 31, 2.30pm; The Mikado, July 30 and 31, 7.30pm

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company, the JoRo’s in-house performing troupe, are producing concert versions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s biggest light opera hits, HMS Pinafore and The Mikado, next week.

The shows will be brimful of popular tunes and brilliant characters, with all profits from this topsy-turvy musical madness going straight back to the Haxby Road community theatre.

Rachel Croft: Cafe concert at Forty Five, with Reap What You Sow EP to follow in September

Music Café society gig of the week ahead: Rachel Croft, Forty Five Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, July 31, 7.30m

NEXT Saturday at Forty Five, York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft will showcase tomorrow’s release of Reap What You Sow, a cinematic, moody taster for her four-track EP of the same name on September 9.

Exploring a more potent, bluesy style throughout, further tracks will be second single Time Waits For No Man, Roots and Chasing Time.  

Rachel will be supported by Kell Chambers and Evie Barrand. Tickets cost £10 via fortyfiveuk.com/whatson.

The Trials Of Cato: Tomos Williams and Rob Jones with new trio member Polly Bolton, playing Primrose Wood Acoustics in early August

Going down in the woods next month: The Trials Of Cato, Primrose Wood Acoustics, Pocklington, August 5, 7pm

BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Trials Of Cato will headline the third Primrose Wood Acoustics session in Pocklington on August 5.

Organised by Pocklington Arts Centre, the outdoor concert series will complete its summer hattrick by popular demand after sold-out sylvan shows on July 1 and 8.

Leamington Spa singer-songwriter Polly Bolton joins co-founders Tomos Williams and Rob Jones for the showcase of imminent second album Gog Magog. Tickets cost £14 on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Pocklington Arts Centre to add third Primrose Wood Acoustics gig in August

Roll out the bunting: The Dunwells in acoustic mode in Primrose Wood, Pocklington, on July 8

PRIMROSE Wood Acoustics will return to the Pocklington woodland for a third double bill – yet to be confirmed – on August 5.

This step three announcement follows the long-awaited return of live music for organisers Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) after staging sold-out outdoor concerts in Primrose Wood on July 1 and 8.

Scunthorpe-born virtuoso guitarist, singer and songwriter Martin Simpson and East Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer played the first night; Leeds indie-folk/Americana band The Dunwells and York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft, the second.

Martin Simpson: Headlined first Primrose Wood Acoustics double bill in Pocklington on July 1

Each was performed to a socially distanced audience of 85 at twilight. “Accompanied by bird song and set under a natural canopy of trees, there was a collective sense of being a part of something special, almost 18 months after PAC last staged a live music event,” said PAC director Janet Farmer.

Artists and audience alike concurred. Joe and Dave Dunwell said: “After 15 months of playing to a computer screen and doing live streams, to be actually playing live in a woodland was just incredible and the audience were just amazing. We loved it!”

Rachel Croft enthused: “For the first time, I felt totally in my element again. Having had all that time off, you get used to not having an amp or an audience or any interaction, so it’s been really special to be in this amazing spot and I’m just really grateful to have been a part of it.”

York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft performing the opening set at Thursday’s Primrose Wood Acoustics concert in the Pocklington sylvan setting

Commenting after Thursday’s concert, audience member Sue Bowden said: “Amazing evening! Fantastic live music in a beautiful setting on a fabulous summer’s evening; brilliantly organised too. Well done to all involved.”

Jane Smith agreed: “What a wonderful gig – our first since March 2020. Great performances in a beautiful setting. Very well organised. Thank you all at Pocklington Arts Centre.”

Julie Eeles said: “A fantastic night: amazing performances by Rachel Croft and The Dunwells. Thank you, Pocklington Arts Centre, for organising the event.”

Thursday’s audience watching The Dunwells in Primrose Wood, Pocklington

Vital to Thursday’s open-air concert was the contribution of sound engineer Daren Bishop. “It was a fantastic event,” he said afterwards. “What a pleasure to be a part of it. I loved mixing the sound in that setting.”

The Primrose Wood Acoustics series comes on the heels of assorted online events and outdoor exhibitions held by PAC since the start of the pandemic. 

“Being able to bring live music back to our audiences has just been incredible,” said the director. “We’d like to thank our customers for their support, as well as Pocklington Cricket Club, Burnby Hall Gardens and Pocklington Town Council for helping to make these events possible.”

Looking forward to reopening: Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer in the auditorium

Watch this space for the announcement of the August 5 double bill. Meanwhile, to keep up to date with PAC’s future events, head to pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Pocklington Arts Centre will reopen formally on July 20, preceded by two sold-out socially distanced warm-ups: work-in-progress gigs by South Shields humorist Sarah Millican on July 14 and 15 at 7.30pm.

“I’ll be trying out loads of new stuff,” says the Geordie joker. “It’ll be rough and ready and very, very fun.”

Sarah MIllican: Warming up for her Bobby Dazzler tour with a brace of sold-out gigs at Pocklington Arts Centre

Next week’s shows are in preparation for her sixth international tour, Bobby Dazzler, whose 2021/2022 itinerary will bring Millican, 46, to York Barbican from November 12 to 14.

“You’ll learn about what happens when your mouth seals shut; how to throw poo over a wall; trying to lose weight but only losing the tip of your finger; a surprisingly funny smear test, and how truly awful a floatation tank can actually be,” says Sarah, who has “spent the past year writing jokes and growing her backside”.

“I can’t wait to get back on the road and make you laugh,” she adds. For ticket details on the 8pm shows, head to yorkbarbican.co.uk

Olga Koch up north for Homecoming autumn stand-up show at Theatre@41

Olga Koch: “Figuring out who on earth she is, as an immigrant and certified teen drama queen” in Homecoming

“WHAT does it mean to belong and where is home?”, ponders Russian-born, English-dwelling, story-telling stand-up Olga Koch in Homecoming, on tour at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, on October 8.

New passport in hand, Olga will try to figure out who on earth she is, as an immigrant and certified teen drama queen.

Homecoming will be the third tour for Olga, 28, in the wake of 2018’s Fight and 2019’s If/Then, and once more she has created “cathartic performance art in the privacy of her own home”.

She was nominated for the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s Best Newcomer Award for Fight, her debut “multimedia extravaganza” that took her audience through the making of modern Russia after Olga’s father – who went from “janitor to Mayor to Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, to game-show host, to dissident” – was stopped by authorities on the Russian border, resulting in the most surreal year in her family’s life.

Olga Koch: up for a Fight in her debut stand-up show

A British tour followed in 2019, visiting the Burning Duck Comedy Club at The Basement, City Screen, in February that year, where the tracksuit-sporting Olga dissected this real-life spy drama with nothing but a projector and her comedic insights. The show – an hour of Olga Koch starring in From Russia With Gloves Off – has since been aired as a special for BBC Radio 4 and is being adapted as a television sitcom. 

Olga’s If/Then debuted at the 2019 Edinburgh before touring the UK and was nominated for Best Show at the Leicester Comedy Festival. The show challenged Olga to tell a love story through the medium of computer programming, a subject she studied at university (“and, like, barely ever brings up”).

“In her feminist investigation into what happens when we can’t separate love and technology, Olga will teach you how to code and explore what happens when our expectations for love, happiness and Michael Bublé no longer compute,” the show brief said.

Like Fight, If/Then is now in development for television. Oh, and while on the subject of TV, Olga has appeared on QI, Mock The Week, King Gary, The New Comedy Show and Channel 4’s Sparks.

Ever busy,  she has released the podcast Tech Tech Boom on BBC Sounds and has a new series, OK Computer, running on BBC Radio 4.

Olga Koch’s poster for her newly announced Homecoming autumn tour

Now comes Homecoming, prompting Olga to say: “After various attempts to bring this show to life, I (a stand-up comedian who hopefully hasn’t forgotten how to do stand-up) cannot wait to bring this feel-good extravaganza to an audience (who hopefully hasn’t forgotten how to laugh).”

Homecoming will form part of a full programme of autumn events at Theatre@41. Check out the programme at 41monkgate.co.uk; tickets are on sale at tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Did you know?

OLGA Alfredovna Koch was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia on September 1 1992. She was educated at TASIS England, aka The American International School in England, an American international boarding and day school.

She studied computer programming at New York University and trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, New York, and the Soho Theatre and the Free Association in London.

Olga Koch’s Homecoming will find a home at last this autumn after “various attempts to bring this show to life”

More Things To Do in and around York as 145 artists and makers open studio doors. List No. 40, courtesy Of The Press, York

Minster, by textile artist Carol Coleman, who is taking part in York Open Studios at 1 Carlton Cottages, Wigginton

AHEAD of Monday’s already trailered Step 4 pronouncement, Charles Hutchinson unmasks events aplenty, from Open Studios to heavy metal heaven, theatre comedy to theatre tragi-comedy, musical celebrations to  a triple exhibition.

Big art event of the next two weekends: York Open Studios 2021, preview night tomorrow, 6pm to 9pm; July 10/11 and 17/18, 10am to 5pm

AFTER the Covid-enforced fallow year of 2020, York Open Studios returns this weekend for its 20th parade of the city’s creative talent.

The event sees 145 artists and makers open 95 studios, homes and workplaces, and among them will be 43 debutants, with full details at yorkopenstudios.co.uk.

York’s biggest annual art showcase spans ceramics, collages, digital art, illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, printmaking, photography, furniture, sculpture and textiles.

Still feeling their Old Selves after lockdown easement: Yorkshire four-piece look overjoyed at the prospect of headlining tomorrow’s very heavy metal bill at The Fulford Arms

Hardcore gig of the week: Old Selves, Blight Town, Cast Out and Realms at The Fulford Arms, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm.

“WHAT at an absolute heavy metal treat,” enthuses Fulford Arms supremo Chris Sherrington, ahead of tomorrow’s headbanger fiesta, headlined by fiery Yorkshire four-piece Old Selves.

Playing loud too will be Nottingham progressive post-hardcore/math rock quintet Blight Town, York punk’n’roll/metalcore crossover band Cast Out and Yorkshire post-hardcore act Realms, who “make music for people who never grew out of their emo phase”. Tickets: thefulfordarms.bigcartel.com/ or on the door.

Lead actors Sandy Foster and Tom Kanji in rehearsal for Laura Wade’s comedy of domestic bliss turned to blister, Home, I’m Darling. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

Make a trip to Scarborough for: Home, I’m Darling, Stephen Joseph Theatre, July 9 to August 14

SWEET peas in the garden; homemade lemon curd in the kitchen; marital bliss in the bedroom, Judy and Johnny seem to be the perfect couple. Sickeningly happy, in fact, in Laura Wade’s domestic comedy-drama. 

Is their marriage everything it seems, however? Are there cracks in their happiness? What happens when the 1950s’ family values they love so much stop working in the 21st century as the couple discovers that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. 

Liz Stevenson directs this co-production between Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, Bolton’s Octagon Theatre and the SJT. Box office: thesjt.uk.com.

Back together in Beulah: Actor-musicians Jim Harbourne and Ed Wren reunite next week, having first performed the show for The Flanagan Collective in 2012

Theatre resurrection of the week ahead: The Flanagan Collective in Beulah, Summer At The Mill, Stillington, near York, July 14 to 16, 8pm to 10pm

AN island sets sail into the sunset; a boy watches a lion running out of the sky, and an old man is sleeping as Alexander Wright’s Beulah reawakens in Stillington.

Inspired by William Blake’s world of a “mild and pleasant rest”, Wright plays with  notions of reality, of the permeable times of day and liminal states of being, in a show woven with storytelling, puppetry and soaring live music, first staged at York Theatre Royal in the bygone summer of 2012.

Directed by Tom Bellerby, Beulah is performed by actor-musicians and composers Jim Harbourne and Ed Wren. Box office: atthemill.org.

Father Of The Flowers, by York artist Linda Combi, from her exhibition The Last Gardener Of Aleppo at Pyramid Gallery, York

Exhibition launch of the week times three: Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, Friday to September 5

ERUM Aamir, Debbie Loane and Linda Combi form the suitably triangular structure of Pyramid Gallery’s summer show. Not one, but three exhibitions will run in two upstairs rooms.

For Celestial Garden, Manchester ceramic artist Erum Aamir has made intricate porcelain sculptures that fuse her scientific research and artistic imaginations, complemented in the front room by seascape and landscape paintings by Easingwold artist Debbie Loane under the title of The Peace Of Wild Places.

York artist Linda Combi presents The Last Gardener Of Aleppo, a series of original collages and mixed-media artworks and giclee prints that form a moving tribute to Abu Waad in aid of The Lemon Tree Trust and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agency.

Not having a ball: Luke Dickson as doomed Leeds United manager Brian Clough in The Damned United at York Theatre Royal

Second time lucky: The Damned United, Red Ladder Theatre Company, York Theatre Royal, July 15, kick-off 7.30pm

THE Damned Pandemic curse struck again when June 16’s performance of The Damned United was postponed after one of the actors had an inconclusive lateral flow test. Tickets remain valid for the post-Euro 2020 new date.

Anders Lustgarten’s darkly humorous adaptation of David Peace’s book about Brian Clough’s 44 days in purgatory as Leeds United’s manager is built around the double act of tortured genius Clough (Luke Dickson) and father figure/assistant Peter Taylor (David Chafer).

The beauty and brutality of football, the working man’s ballet, bursts out of a story of sweat and booze, fury and power battles. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

No, that’s not England manager Gareth Southgate, second from left, front row, in Black Sheep Theatre’s line-up

Raise the roof booster:  Black Sheep Theatre, For The Love Of Musicals, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, July 24, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

MUSICAL director Matthew Clare and his merry band, plus a heap of York singers, present a concert programme packed with musical delights as they seek to prove that “There’s No Business Like Show Business”.

The song list for this Black Sheep Theatre fundraiser for the Joseph Rowntree York, spans Annie Get Your Gun, the classics and more recent shows, such as Dear Evan Hansen. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Joshua Burnell: Live At Forty Five gig in August. Picture: Stewart Baxter

Intimate gig announcement of the week: Joshua Burnell, Live At Forty Five, Forty Five Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, August 14, 7.30pm

JOSHUA Burnell, progressive York purveyor of folk-fused baroque’n’roll for the modern world, performs in a three-piece line-up, including Frances Sladen, at Forty Five Vinyl Café next month.

Expect a showcase for latest album Flowers Where The Horses Sleep and his new EP, Storm Cogs, featuring songs about a folk singer who went missing for 30 years (Shelagh McDonald), a storm-chasing flying machine and a childhood memory, “written and recorded in lockdown and released as the world recovers”.

Elsie Franklin supports. Tickets are on sale at fortyfiveuk.com/events/joshua-burnell-live-at-fortyfive.