YORK creative hub Navigators Art & Performance is exploring iconic genres – the punk era and the jazz age – in its autumn exhibition at Micklegate & Fossgate Socials and Saturday’s live event at The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, York.
Punk/Jazz: Contrasts and Connections asks: A Love Supreme or No Future? Are punk and jazz at odds or two sides of a coin?
The answer to a question with a nod to American jazz saxophonist John Coltrane’s 1964 album and the Sex Pistols’ nihilistic mantra from 1977 single God Save The Queen comes through a combination of painting, drawing, collage, print, words, sculpture, photography and music.
“Punk and jazz? Each can be controversial, uncompromising, confrontational,” says Navigators Art co-founder Richard Kitchen. “The best of each is groundbreaking, pushing conventions to the limit. Both can hurt. Both can heal.”
On show at the Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social bars is new work by a fresh line-up of artists from York and beyond. “We’re featuring a healthy mix of the known and the less familiar, including Ali Hunter, Carrianne Vivianette, George Willmore, Nick Walters, river smith, Sharon McDonagh, Steve Beadle and Steve Walmsley,” says Richard, who is among the exhibitors as ever.
“There’s a special treat too: the welcome return to the York art scene of entrepreneur and local legend Chalky the Yorkie.”
Saturday’s specially curated live performance at The Basement, Punk/Jazz: A Halloween Special, features York bands The Bricks, Teleost and Things Found And Made (Dunmada), the polemical words of activist poet Rose Drew and Saeth Wheeler delivering psychic-themed comedy.
Doors open at 7pm for this 7.30pm event, presented in association with The Random Cabaret and York Alternatives, and the Basement bar will be open throughout.
“Expect experiments, improvisation and noise! Some of the material will not be suitable for young children,” Richard forewarns.
Here, Richard Kitchen discusses punk, jazz and art, contrasts and connections with CharlesHutchPress
How can jazz and punk hurt, Richard?
“When we came up with the theme, many people said, ‘I don’t like jazz but I like punk’ or vice versa. We’re talking generalisations but not stereotypes here, and we’re interested in spiritual or free jazz, rather than more polite versions.
“They’re both polemical in terms of both sound and ideology. Many people feel threatened by them. Then, of course, they take aim at certain targets, political, social and cultural, and challenge them.”
How can jazz and punk heal?
“People can find themselves through music, whether as players or listeners. Both these forms of music offer a world, even a philosophy, that people develop a passionate relationship with.
“We’ve proposed that punk is an attitude, jazz is a state of mind. Freedom, independent creativity, social justice: they represent values systems that go beyond music in search of a better world. We as Navigators Art have followed those values in giving ourselves permission to achieve things that others have said we couldn’t – or even shouldn’t!”
How did dapper activist artist Chalky the Yorkie become involved in the exhibition?
“We met Chalky at a show last Christmas, chatted to him about art and music and his own history as an artist in York, and felt we’d like to get him involved in the scene again. He had some work that responds perfectly to the Punk/Jazz theme.”
Names new to Navigators Art are among the Punk/Jazz artists: how were the exhibitors selected this time?
“We did a general call-out for the first time on social media and Curatorspace. We’ve had quite a constant presence over the past 18 months and it was time to freshen things up, to avoid the same people making the same kind of work each time. We’ve gone back to basics, with a core admin group and a network of wonderful new and emerging artists and performers.”
Are you a punk fan, a jazz fan, or both?
“Personaslly? A fan of both but they’re broad terms, aren’t they? Anything exploratory and exciting gets my vote. Sheer noise? No! Cocktail lounge tinkling? No! Extreme hardcore where there’s no space to let the music breathe? No! But others in the group have their own preferences of course.”
Punk gets things done in a rush with plenty to say; jazz just faffs around, taking forever to not make any point…Discuss! “Two sides of a coin, as we say. But the coin itself is the same. They aren’t exclusive. Sometimes you want to shout and get things out of your system; sometimes you want to muse on things at length.
“Punk or jazz, the musicians are working out how best to express themselves, whether it’s protesting about something for two minutes or exploring their own state of mind for hours! The key factor in both is honesty, being true to yourself. I’d say that’s what attracts an audience too.”
Punk had no future, nowhere to go. Jazz is always evolving…Discuss.
“Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten/John Lydon realised punk was imploding very early on, becoming formulaic. Once you get into the punk that led to what became a post-punk freedom to experiment, there’s an openness to many other forms of music, including jazz, dub, world music and so on that created a kaleidoscope of marvellous new forms.
“New jazz is emerging now, which similarly draws on other influences, especially electronics. Labelling music as one thing or another is a convenient shorthand but genuinely creative artists rarely think in those terms.”
What is the full line-up for Saturday’s live event?
“The musicians will be The Bricks, an energetic punk band fronted by Gemma from comics shop Travelling Man, in Goodramgate; Teleost, who are more intense and improvisatory; the Neo Borgia Trio who have formed especially for the occasion from a University of York big band; Mike Ambler, with some grunge-influenced solo songs,; and Things Found And Made (Dunmada), whose experimental set is a secret even from us. Then there’s firebrand poet Rose Drew and comedians Isobel Wilson and Saeth Wheeler.”
What is Navigators Art & Performance?
THIS York creative collective brings a DIY ethos and punk belief in building from minimal resources to exhibitions, live events, projects and commissions.
“We’ve created events for StreetLife and York Festival of Ideas, and we’re now running live events at The Basement, City Screen,” says co-founder Richard Kitchen.
“We present original material for an audience to discover something fresh and exciting.
We encourage young artists, emerging talent and those who feel disadvantaged or underrepresented.”
Punk/Jazz: Contrasts and Connections runs at Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social, York, until January, with the closing date yet to be confirmed.Free entry during opening hours.Tickets for Punk/Jazz: A Halloween Special are on sale at https://bit.ly/nav-punkjazz
BAVARIAN revelry and riotous Russian politics, Frankenstein in wartime and jazz era Joni, comedy and charity nights entice Charles Hutchinson to do battle with Storm Babet.
Festival of the week: Jamboree Entertainment presents Yorktoberfest, Clocktower Enclosure, York Racecourse, Knavesmire Road, York, today, 1pm to 5pm; Friday, 7pm to 11pm; next Saturday, 1pm to 5pm and 7pm to 11pm
YORKTOBEFEST returns for a third autumn season of beer, bratwurst, bumper cars and all things Bavarian in a giant marquee. Look out for the Bavarian Strollers, with their thigh-slapping oompah tunes and disco classics, and York’s international drag diva Velma Celli with her stellar singing and saucy humour.
Dancing is encouraged, as is the wearing of Lederhosen, Dirndls or any other fancy dress, with nightly competitions and prizes for the best dressed. Box office: ticketsource.co.uk/yorktoberfest.
Fundraiser of the week: York Rotary presents A Song For Everyone, Memorial Hall, St Peter’s School, Clifton, York, tonight; doors 7pm, concert 7.30pm to 10.15pm
YORK singer and guitarist Steve Cassidy and his band are joined by guest vocalist Heather Findlay to perform a “huge range of popular hits covering six decades”. Expect rock, ballads and country music. Proceeds from this fundraising concert will go to St Leonard’s Hospice and York Rotary Charity Fund. Box office: yorkrotary.co.uk/a-song-for-everyone or on the door.
Spooks at Spark: Halloween Makers’ Market, Spark:York, Piccadilly, York, today, 12 noon to 4pm
THE Halloween edition of Spark:York’s Makers’ Market features “spooktacularly” handcrafted work by independent makers. Taking part will be Wistoragic Designs, Enthralled Yet, Gem Belle, A Forest of Shadows, Kim’s Clay Jewellery and the Mimi Shop by Amelia. Entry is free.
Jazz gig of the week: Hejira: Celebrating Joni Mitchell, National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, tomorrow, 6.30pm
JAZZ seven-piece Hejira honour the works of Canadian-American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and painter Joni Mitchell, mostly from the late 1970s, in particular Mingus from her “jazz period” and the live album Shadows And Light, recorded in 1979 with a Jazz All Stars line-up featuring saxophonist Michael Brecker and guitarist Pat Metheny.
Hejira is fronted by Hattie Whitehead, who – in her own way – has assimilated the poise, power and beauty of Joni’s vocals and plays guitar with Joni’s stylistic mannerisms. Joining her will be Pete Oxley, guitar; Ollie Weston, saxophones; Chris Eldred, piano and keyboards; Dave Jones, electric basses; Rick Finlay, drums, and Marc Cecil, percussion. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
Tribute show of the week: Go Your Own Way – The Fleetwood Mac Legacy, Grand Opera House, tomorrow, 7.30pm
GO Your Own Way celebrates the Fleetwood Mac era of Rumours and that 1977 line-up of Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie, Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood in this new tribute show. Dreams, Don’t Stop Rhiannon, Gold Dust Woman, Everywhere, Little Lies and Big Love all feature. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Film screening of the week: Northern Silents Film Festival presents The Great Train Robbery (1903) and The General (1926), National Centre for Early Music, York, Monday, 7.30pm
NORTHERN Silents artistic director and pianist Jonny Best brings musical commentary to a pair of silent cinema’s most famous railway chase films.
The 12-minute escapade The Great Train Robbery still packs a punch after 120 years, while Buster Keaton’s greatest achievement, the 80-minute The General, is both a brlliantly staged American Civil War epic and a comedy-thriller packed with visual humour, daring stunts and dramatic tension.
Keaton plays railroad engineer Johnny Gray, whose beloved locomotive, The General, is stolen by Yankees, stirring him to strive to get it back against the odds. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
One for the Halloween season: Tilted Wig in Frankenstein, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday; 7.30pm October 24 and 26 to 28; 2pm, October 25 and 26; 2.30pm, October 28
TILTED Wig’s Frankenstein is an electrifying reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Gothic 19th century horror story, now set in 1943. While Europe tears itself apart, two women hide from their past at what feels like the very end of the world. One of them has a terrifying story to tell.
Adapted and directed by Sean Aydon, this new thriller explores the very fabric of what makes us human and the ultimate cost of chasing “perfection” with a cast featuring Eleanor McLoughlin as Doctor Victoria Frankenstein, Basienka Blake as Captain/Richter and Cameron Robertson as The Creature. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Comedy bill of the week: Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Tom Lawrinson & Friends, Spark:York, Piccadilly, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm
AFTER Tom Lawrinson and Eryn Tett starred in Burning Duck’s inaugural Spark Comedy Fringe, promoter Al Greaves has invited them back to spark more laughs.
Absurdist alternative comedian Tett opens the show; Lawrinson, who made his Edinburgh Fringe debut with Hubba Hubba, is the headline act. In between come two shorter spots (wait and see who those “friends” will be), with guest host MC Mandy McCarthy holding everything together. Box office: burningduckcomedy.com.
A word or two on women: Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Helen Bauer: Grand Supreme Darling Princess, The Crescent, York, Thursday, 7.30pm; Hyde Park Book Club, Headingley, Leeds, Friday, 8pm
HELEN Bauer, Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nominee, Late Night Mash star and Trusty Dogs podcaster, heads to York and Leeds with a show about the women in her life, from her mother to her best friend and that one girl who was mean in 2008. Oh, and Disney princesses, obviously. Box office: York, wegottickets.com/event/581816; Leeds, wegottickets.com/event/581817.
Spotted in the distance: 101 Dalmatians The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, November 5 to 9 2024, not 2023
A NEW musical tour of Dodie Smith’s canine caper 101 Dalmatians will arrive in York next autumn. Written by Douglas Hodge (music and lyrics) and Johnny McKnight (book), from a stage adaptation by Zinnie Harris, the show is reimagined from the 2022 production at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London. The cast and creative team are yet to be announced.
When fashionista Cruella de Vil plots to swipe all the Dalmatian puppies in town to create her fabulous new fur coat, trouble lies ahead for Pongo and Perdi and their litter of tail-wagging young pups. Smith’s story will be brought to stage life with puppetry, choreography, humorous songs and, yes, puppies. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
In Focus: Political drama of the week: York Settlement Community Players in Government Inspector
IN his first time in the director’s seat for 15 years, Theatre@41 chair and actor Alan Park directs the Settlement Players in David Harrower’s adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s Russian satirical exposé of hypocrisy and corruption in high places, prompted by a simple case of mistaken identity.
Park’s ensemble cast of eccentrics will undertake a fun, chaotic journey through 1980s’ Soviet Russia. “Communism is collapsing, it’s every man, woman and dog for themselves. What could possibly go wrong?” he asks, as the bureaucrats of a small Russian town are sent into a panic by news of the government inspector’s imminent arrival.
Harrower’s version premiered at the Warwick Arts Centre in May 2011 and transferred to the Young Vic, London, later that year. Now it provides “the perfect platform for Settlement Players’ hugely talented ensemble”, led by Mike Hickman as the town’s Major.
Andrew Roberts plays Khlestakov, accompanied by Paul French as his long-suffering servant, Osip. YSCP regulars combine with newcomers in Park’s company of Alison Taylor as the Major’s wife; Pearl Mollison, the Major’s daughter; Katie Leckey, Dobchinsky; Sonia Di Lorenzo, Bobchinksy; Maggie Smales, the Judge; Matt Pattison, Postmaster; Mark Simmonds, Head of Hospitals; Paul Osborne, School Superintendent; Adam Sowter, Police Superintendent; Florence Poskitt, Mishka, and Alexandra Mather, Dr Gibner.
Jim Paterson will lead a live band, made up of cast members, such as Pattison and Sowter, to help transport next week’s audiences to a 1980s’ provincial Soviet town full of eccentric personalities. Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk
GHOSTS in gardens, men in hats and nowt else, kings in trouble, Halloween scares and pumpkins galore offer an autumn harvest for Charles Hutchinson and you to pick.
Yorkshiremen of the week: The Full Monty, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees
CELEBRATING the 25th anniversary of Peter Cattaneo’s Sheffield film, The Full Monty takes to the stage in a national tour of Simon Beaufoy’s play, wherein a group of lads on the scrapheap try to regain their dignity and pride in a story of ups and downs, humour and heartbreak, resonant anew amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Leaving their hat on will be Danny Hatchard’s Gaz, Jake Quickenden’s Guy, Bill Ward’s Gerald, Neil Hurst’s Dave, Ben Onwukwe’s Horse and Nicholas Prasad’s Lomper. Box office: atgtickets.com/york
Fiddler of the week: Ryan Young & David Foley, National Centre for Early Music, York, Monday, 7.30pm
FIDDLER and 2022 MG ALBA Musician of the Year nominee Ryan Young brings new and exciting ideas to traditional Scottish music with his spellbinding interpretations of very old, often forgotten tunes. Joining him in York will be guitarist David Foley. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
Play of the week: York Shakespeare Project in Edward II, Theatre@41, Monkgate, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee
PHASE two of York Shakespeare Project offers the chance over the next 25 years to see works by Shakespeare’s rivals, led off by Christopher “Kit” Marlowe’s intimate historical tragedy Edward II under the direction of Tom “Strasz” Straszewski.
Expect themes of cancel culture, social mobility and celebrity to pour out of this modern interpretation of Marlowe’s 1952 work, starring Jack Downey as Edward II, James Lee as his lover Gaveston and Danae Arteaga Hernandez as his wilful Queen, Isabel, in this “fantasia of power and love”. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Cabaret return of the week: Fascinating Aida – The 40th Anniversary Show, York Barbican, Wednesday, 7.30pm
DILLIE Keane, Adèle Anderson and Liza Pulman, “Britain’s raciest and sassiest musical cabaret trio”, celebrate 40 years of Fascinating Aida travels in their typically charming, belligerent, political, poignant, outrageous and filthy new show. Much-loved favourites, such as Dogging and Cheap Flights, will be combined with fresh satirical numbers. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Meanwhile, actress, presenter and writer Miriam Margolyes’s Oh Miriam! Live show on Monday has sold out.
Opera of the week: York Opera in Verdi’s Macbeth, York Theatre Royal, Wednesday and Friday, 7pm; Saturday, 4pm
JOHN Soper directs York Opera in its autumn production of Giuseppe Verdi’s 1847 opera Macbeth, starring the highly experienced duo of baritone Ian Thomson-Smith as Macbeth and soprano Sharon Nicholson-Skeggs as Lady Macbeth.
Sung in English, it stays true to Shakespeare’s original play, complete with witches, ghosts, cut-throats and the political scheming of the Scottish court. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Gigs of the week: Lloyd Cole, Tuesday, 8pm; Paul Carrack, Thursday, 7.30pm at York Barbican
LLOYD Cole plays two sets in one night on Tuesday, the first acoustic and solo, the second electric, with a band featuring two of his Commotions compadres, Blair Cowan and Neil Clark, as he showcases his 12th solo album, On Pain.
Sheffield singer, songwriter, guitarist and keyboard player Paul Carrack, the soulful voice of Ace, Squeeze and Mike + The Mechanics hits, returns to one of his most regular joints on Thursday. How long has this been going on? Oh, a long, long time. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Halloween days and nights: Hallowtween and Hallowscream, York Maze, near Elvington, York until November 4
HALLOWTWEEN is billed as the “UK’s only Halloween event for families with children aged ten to 15”. Venture inside four of York Maze’s Hallowscream scare houses but without the monsters that inhabit them at night for the shocks and thrills of Corny’s Cornevil, The Singularity, The Flesh Pot and a new haunted house.
Hallowscream fright nights promise fear and fun in five live-action scare houses, plus a new stage show, bar and hot food. Box office: hallowtween.co.uk or yorkmazehallowscream.co.uk.
Trail of the season: Ghosts In The Garden, haunting York until November 12
THE eerie sculptures of Ghosts In The Gardens return for the third time for haunted York’s spookiest season, as unearthly monks, a noble knight, Vikings, painters, archers, even a phantom peacock, pop up in translucent 3D wire mesh form.
Unconventional Designs have created a free trail of 39 sculptures, installed at Museum Gardens, The Artists’ Garden, Treasurer’s House, Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Middletons Hotel, St Anthony’s Garden, Barley Hall, Shambles, Clifford’s Tower, The Judge’s Lodging, DIG, Castle Museum Mill, Edible Wood and Library Lawn.
Children’s festival of the month: Pumpkin Festival at Piglets Adventure Farm, Towthorpe Grange, Towthorpe Moor Lane, York, October 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28 to 31, then November 1 to 3
HERE comes the Pumpkin Patch (with a free pumpkin for every paying child), Pumpkin Carving Marquee, Catch The Bats Quiz, Professor Dan’s Tricks and Treats Magic Show at 12 noon and 2pm, The Bat-walk Fancy Dress Parade at 3.30pm, Gruesome Ghosts of York in the Maize Maze and Spooky Animal Encounters.
From November 1 to 3, the attractions will be Professor Dan’s eye-popping Magic Show (same show times), Gruesome Ghosts of York in the Maize Maze and Spooky Animal Encounters. Tickets: pigletsadventurefarm.com.
Postponed: Bev Jones Music Company in Guys And Dolls, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, October 18 to 21.
LUCK won’t be a lady next week after all. Cast illness has put paid to the Bev Jones Music Company’s first production since Covid-blighted 2020. Claire Pulpher was to have directed a York cast led by tenor Chris Hagyard in Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows’ 1950s’ musical. Plans are afoot to stage the show next summer instead. Ticket holders are being contacted by the JoRo box office team.
Duo of the week: Catrin Finch & Aoife Ni Bhriain, National Centre for Early Music, York, Friday, 7.30pm
AFTER her award-winning collaborations with Seckou Keita and Cimarron, Welsh harpist Catrin Finch has formed a virtuoso duo with Dublin violinist Aoife Ni Bhriain, who commands both the classical world and her traditional Irish heritage.
Inspired by a multitude of influences and linked by the cultures of their home countries, they follow up last November’s debut at Other Voices Cardigan with a select few concerts previewing the extraordinary and original material from their October 27 debut album, Double You. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
Looking ahead: Paloma Faith, The Glorification Of Sadness Tour 2024, York Barbican, May 12
NEXT spring, Paloma Faith will play York for the first time since her York Racecourse Music Showcase set on Knavesmire in June 2018, promoting her sixth studio album, next February’s The Glorification Of Sadness.
Her new songs will be “celebrating finding your way back after leaving a long-term relationship, being empowered even in your failures and taking responsibility for your own happiness”, following last year’s split from French artist Leyman Lachine. Hull Bonus Arena on May 3 awaits too. Box office: from 10am on October 20, ticketmaster.co.uk and seetickets.com.
In Focus: Chronicled and Summer Art finalists’ exhibitions at Spark: York, Piccadilly, York, today and tomorrow
SPARK:YORK, the creative community space in Piccadilly, York, is hosting two exhibitions this weekend, both exploring themes powerfully relevant to our communities today.
Chronicled is a pop-up show organised by the University of York’s Ukrainian Society, showcasing works by Kyiv street photographer Dima Leonenko.
His dynamic vision of everyday life in the Ukrainian capital during the Russianfull-scale invasion is reflected through his film photos. ”When I see a character or a scene that catches my attention, I just press the button and capture it,” he says.
On show from 12 noon to 10.30pm today and tomorrow, Dima’s exhibition will be accompanied by an interactive project that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the “war-life reality’’ of the Ukrainian people. The event takes place in Spark:York’s co-working space downstairs, with a drinks welcome, from 6pm to 8pm tonight.
Spark:York also will be showcasing artworks submitted to its summer art competition, set up to encourage York-based artists to imagine the city’s future 100 years from now and share their ideas, fears and hopes surrounding the impact of climate change on this historic city.
Leon François Dumont, Spark:York resident artist and judging panel member, says: ”In this art exhibition, we’ve witnessed a remarkable outpouring of creativity from both young and adult artists.
“From a city transformed by shipping containers to a bubble-like dome preserving York under water, these artworks by the finalists are a testament to the power of imagination.”
The exhibition can be viewed in Spark:York’s Show studio upstairs today and tomorrow from 12 noon to 9pm. Guests are invited to contribute to a time capsule created on the day by leaving a message and a memento for the people of York in 2050, the year of the UK’s net zero target. Spark: York hopes to pass the time capsule on to the City of York Council for safekeeping.
At the front of Spark:York will be an art installation by VRAC (Vape Recycling Awareness Campaign), a York campaign group that has been been working with Spark:York over the past 18 months to collect used vapes that would otherwise end up being discarded, either in landfills or down drains, polluting waterways and ground water with toxic metals. An estimated 1.5 million per week are discarded in this way.
Group founder Mick Storey says: ”The SUCKERED – not – SUCCOURED installation, using some 3,000 used vapes, conveys a message about our responsibility to all our young people and the future generations yet to come who will inherit whatever future it is we leave behind us.”
Spark:York “hopes that both exhibitions can open a discussion around the future of our communities, as well as provoke reflections and meaningful actions that can help build a better world for us all”.
Entry to both exhibitions is free. For more information, head to: www.sparkyork.org/
NEWS ALERT: 26/10/2023
The York In 100 Years exhibition has moved to Spark:York’s pop-up space, where it will be on display until November 5.
ELYSIUM Theatre Company presents Matthew Howden, Elaine MacNicol and Steven Stobbs in artistic director Jake Murray’s touring production of Reiver: Tales From The Borders at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tonight at 7.30pm.
The Reivers were lawless families who terrorised the Anglo-Scottish border for 400 years from Newcastle to Edinburgh, Carlisle to Dumfries, until King James I broke their power. Living by blackmail, extortion, protection and theft, they grew to become some of the most powerful families of their time: the Nixons, the Armstrongs, the Charltons, the Maxwells and many more.
Steeped in the folklore and history of the northern borders, writer Steve Byron weaves three tales of ordinary people caught up in the Reivers’ web, a farmer, a lawman and a young woman, as they take a stand against their murderous ways in a world of violence and injustice.
In Blackmail, an innocent farmer is forced to take a stand against the bullying threats of a powerful Reiver family. In Godforsaken Place, a southern lawman exiled to the north by the corrupt London authorities tries to save a Reiver child from a terrible fate.
In The Widow’s Path, a Scottish woman sold into servitude as a child pursues the murderers of her husband. She will not rest until she has overturned the Reiver order to gain her revenge.
As law and order do battle with corruption and greed, will good triumph over evil, or will evil win the day?
Tomorrow night, at 7.30pm, Mark Farrelly’s play Howerd’s End goes to the heart of York-born comedian Frankie Howerd’s secret. A secret called Dennis Heymer, his lover, friend and anchor, with whom he had a clandestine relationship from the 1950s until Frankie’s death in 1992.
From the writer of Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope and The Silence Of Snow: The Life Of Patrick Hamilton comes a show packed with humour in a glorious opportunity to encounter Frankie in full-flight stand-up mode, but also unafraid of the truth.
Howerd’s End portrays a shared, defiant journey through closeness, love, grief and all the other things that make life worth living. Come and say farewell to a legend… and learn the art of letting go as Farrelly’s Dennis is joined by Simon Cartwright’s Frankie in a touring production directed by Joe Harmston.
Ria Lina: Riawakening makes it three nights in a row at Theatre@41 on Friday at 8pm. In the aftermath of a global pandemic, comedian and scientist Ria Lina has undergone a Riawakening and now sees the world differently.
In her debut tour show, she tackles the issues of coming out of a pandemic, the new normal, divorce, dating in a new digital world, motherhood and what it really means to be a woman today.
Fearless and provocative, Ria is the only Filipina comedian working on the British stand-up circuit and has appeared on Live At The Apollo, Have I Got News For You, House Of Games, The Last Leg and Celebrity Mastermind.
Tickets are on sale at tickets.41monkgate.co.uk. Durham company Elysium Theatre’s Reiver: Tales From The Borders also visits the Grey Village Hall, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, on October 28 at 7.30pm; tickets, 01347 811428. Ria Lina plays The Wardrobe, Leeds, on October 19, 7.30pm; box office, thewardrobe.seetickets.com.
BRITISH-KURDISH stand-up comedian Kae Kurd plays Leeds City Varieties Music Hall on October 27 on his Kurd Immunity tour.
Born Korang Abdulla, Kae came to Great Britain at six months old when his parents, who were part of the Kurdish resistance movement against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government, were forced to flee.
“At my age, my father was running at tanks”, says Kae, 33. His parents first fled to Iran, where he was born. Partly as a result of his father being injured in a poison gas attack in Iraq, his family were accepted as refugees in Britain, settling in Brixton, South London, where he still lives.
Focusing on issues of race, identity and growing up Kurdish in the UK, Kae started out on the comedy circuit in 2011. As someone from a nation without an independent state, “your whole existence is about trying to find an identity or to speak up for your identity,” he says.
Signed to Mo Gilligan & Babatunde Aleshe’s management team, Kae mounted his sell-out debut national tour, The Spoken Kurd, in 2021 and took part in Celebrity MasterChef in 2022.
He has written for Cunk On…, Death To 2020, A League Of Their Own, Have I Got News For You, Charlie Brooker’s Antiviral Wipe and Crouchy’s Year-Late Euros. He has appeared on Mock The Week and Richard Osman’s House Of Games and presented the BBC’s Live At The Apollo for the first time at the start of 2023.
In response to the world being turned on its head, Kae is trying to be the best man he can possibly be and working out what that requires in this day and age. Society now demands we should be better versions of ourselves and even more so in the future, leading to Kae “having to take a good long look at himself”.
Tickets for his 8pm gig in Leeds are on sale on 0113 243 0808 or at leedsheritagetheatres.com.
AN historic crucifix, a Wolds art trail, 40th anniversaries at the quadruple and a York-made horror double bill promise a heap of interesting encounters for Charles Hutchinson and you alike.
Exhibition launch of the week:Hide & Seek: The Aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, Blossom Street, York, today until November 16
THE only surviving item from thousands seized in raids on Catholic houses after the 1605 Gunpowder Plot goes on show in York. The late 16th/early 17th century crucifix belonged to Father Edward Oldcorne (1561-1606), who was hanged, drawn and quartered despite being innocent of involvement. His crime: he attended school in York with infamous plotter Guy Fawkes and committed the treasonous act of becoming a Catholic priest.
On display will be new research into the crucifix, more information on Oldcorne and the men he was caught alongside, and an exploration of how priest hiding holes were constructed within the fabric of buildings. Tickets: barconvent.co.uk.
Children’s gig of the week: Andy And The Odd Socks, York Theatre Royal, today, 1pm
STRAIGHT off the telly and onto the live stage, Andy And The Odd Socks bring their madcap mix of songs, slapstick and silliness to life with a 70-minute show to entertain families of all ages.
Fronted by Andy Day, CBeebies regular and 2021 York Theatre Royal panto star as Dandini in Cinderella, their sock’n’roll makes for the ideal first concert for children. Andy And The Odd Socks are patrons for the Anti-Bullying Alliance, by the way. Tickets update: filling up fast; 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Studio show of the week: Essential Theatre in The Mistake, York Theatre Royal Studio, tonight, 7.45pm
DIRECTED by Rosamunde Hutt, Michael Mears’s Spirit of the Fringe award-winning play explores the events surrounding the catastrophic ‘mistake’ that launched the nuclear age, followed by a post-show discussion.
1942. On a squash court in Chicago, a dazzling scientific experiment takes place, one that three years later will destroy a city and change the world forever. Two actors, one British (Mears), one Japanese (Riko Nakazono), enact the stories of a brilliant Hungarian scientist, a daring American pilot and a devoted Japanese daughter, in a fast-moving drama about the dangers that arise when humans dare to unlock the awesome power of nature. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Season start of the week: York Late Music, Franko Bozak, 1pm; Delta Saxophone Quartet, 7.30pm, Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York, today
FRANKO Bozac showcases the reasons why the accordion should not be underestimated in his afternoon programme, featuring a collaboration between composer James Williamson and visual artist Romey T Brough.
Celebrating their own ruby anniversary, the Delta Saxophone Quartet mark York Late Music’s 40th year by performing Steve Martland, The Soft Machine and new works. Box office: latemusic.org or on the door.
Musical of the week: Be Amazing Arts in West Side Story, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, today and tomorrow, 2.30pm and 7.30pm
MALTON company Be Amazing Arts present Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s musical transition of Shakesespeare’s Romeo And Juliet to modern-day New York City, where two young idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the “American” Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks.
Arthur Laurents’s book remains as powerful, poignant and timely as ever, charting the lovers’ struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice in this innovative, heart-wrenching landmark Broadway musical. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Art event of the weekend: Pocklington Area Open Studios 2023, today and tomorrow, 10am to 5pm
TAKING in Pocklington, villages with ten miles of the East Yorkshire market town, the Yorkshire Wolds and North Derwent Valley, Pocklington Area Open Studios 2023 features 28 artists in 14 venues.
This compact art trail features paintings, ceramics, textiles, jewellery and photography, with the chance to meet diverse painters and makers, many in their own studios, who will preview their latest works for sale, discuss their creative processes, potential commissions and upcoming workshops and courses.
Venue 1: Park Lane End Studio, Park Lane, Bishop Wilton: Colin Pollock, oils, acrylics and watercolour; Judith Pollock, printmaking and mixed media.
Venue 2: The Studio, The Old School, Skirpenbeck: Lesley Peatfield, fine art and abstract photography; Richard Gibson, sculptures.
Venue 3: Rocking Horse Studio, Rocking Horse Yard, Fangfoss: Shirley Davis Dew, painting; Sue Giles, textile art exploring Japanese Shibori techniques of dyeing; Richard Moore, handmade ceramic tiles.
Venue 4: Fangfoss Pottery, The Old School, Fangfoss,: Gerry Grant, ceramics; Sarah Relf, drawing and illustration.
Venue 5: I Woldview Road, Wilberfoss: Mo Burrows, jewellery; Bernadette Oliver, acrylic, ink and collage; Tori Foster, jewellery.
Venue 6: 4 Archibald Close, Pocklington: Peter Schoenecker, 2D and 3D art works.
Venue 7: 35 St Helens Road, Pocklington: Mary Burton, acrylics and pastels; Lee Steele, ceramics; Ingrid Barton, mixed media.
Venue 8: Newfold House Granary Studio, Newton upon Derwent: Chris Cullum, textile arts.
Venue 9: Tullyframe, Main Street, Barmby Moor: Penny De Corte, ceramic art; Avril Cheetham, jewellery.
Venue 11: Church Farm, Town Street, Hayton: Noreen Thorp, pastel, watercolour and mixed media, Lynda Heaton, watercolour and mixed media.
Venue 12: Hayton Studio, Manor Farm, Town Street, Hayton: Peter Edwards, mixed media; Harry Hodgson, mixed media.
Venue 13: Plum Tree Studio & House, Pocklington Lane, Huggate: Belinda Hazlerigg, paintings, printmaking, silk scarves and ceramics.
Venue 14: 3 Stable Court, Londesborough: Tony Wells, ceramics.
For the brochure, map and artist details, head to: pocklingtonareaopenstudios.co.uk/info.html.Free entry.
Touring play of the week: Frantic Assembly in Metamorphosis at York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinee
POET, author, broadcaster and speaker Lemn Sissay has adapted Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis for Frantic Assembly, visceral purveyors of theatre full of physicality, movement and emotional truths, who last toured Othello to York.
Gregor Samsa finds himself transformed from breadwinner into burden in this absurd and tragic story, wherein humans struggle within a system that crushes them under its heel in Kafka’s existential depiction of the limitations of the body and mind, imagination and aspiration. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Sing something synth-full: Howard Jones: Celebrating 40 Years 1983-2023, York Barbican, Wednesday, doors, 7pm
SINGER, songwriter and synth player Howard Jones, 68, is marking the 40th anniversary of his revolutionary debut single, New Song, performing in a five-piece with Kajagoogoo’s Nick Beggs on bass and Robert Boult on guitar. Expect a “sonic visual feast” of hits and fan favourites and a support spot from Blancmange.
“I think my ’80s’ work still resonates through the generations because of the positive message in the lyrics,” says Jones. “I’ve always believed that music can give the listener a boost, especially when things in life prove challenging. Things can only get better when we realise the power of our own actions and engagement.” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
More 40th anniversary celebrations: The Waterboys, York Barbican, Thursday, 7.30pm
MIKE Scott has made a habit of playing York Barbican, laying on his Scottish-founded folk, rock, soul and blues band’s “Big Music” in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018 and October 2021.
Since then, The Waterboys have released 15th studio album All Souls Hill in 2022; re-released 2000’s Rock In A Weary Land, 2003’s Universal Hall and 2007’s Book Of Lightning on vinyl; appeared on Sky Arts’ The Great Songwriters and announced a six-CD box set of This Is The Sea for early 2024. Joining Scott will be Memphis keyboard player “Brother” Paul Brown, British drummer Ralph Salmins and Irish bassman Aongus Ralston.
Level 42’s Living It Up tour date on Friday the 13th is unlucky for some – it has sold out – but tickets are still available for fellow Eighties’ combo The Waterboys at yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Spooky screening of the week: Book Of Monsters and Zomblogalypse, Spark: York, Piccadilly, York, Friday, 6pm to 11pm
YORK’S horror filmmaking community gathers this Friday The 13th for a special double screening of Dark Rift Horror’sBook Of Monsters and MilesTone Films’Zomblogalypse.
Both York-made indie films have enjoyed award-scooping film festival tours, with Dark Rift’s follow-up feature, How To Kill Monsters,now screening internationally.
Meet the filmmakers, cast and crew of each movie, including directors Stewart Sparke, Hannah Bungard, Miles Watts and Tony Hipwell and star Lyndsey Craine. Add in signings, photo opportunities with cast and props, and merchandise to buy, including both films on Blu-ray, official posters, art cards and other fun stuff. Box office: ticketpass.org/event/EGUKTC/dark-rift-double-bill. 18-plus only.
In Focus: How York composer James Williamson, artist Romey T Brough and Croatian accordionist Franko Bozac collaborated for Late Music premiere and Blossom Street Gallery exhibition
YORK composer James Williamson’s composition, Romey Collages, will be premiered by accordionist Franko Bozac as part of the 2023 York Late Festival season today.
The work is a collaboration between James and artist Romey T Brough that emerged from him seeing her work at Blossom Street Gallery, Blossom Street, York.
Romey, who lived and worked in York for many years, now resides at her studio in the Hertfordshire countryside. Her latest collages will be on show at Kim Oldfield’s gallery until October 29 under the exhibition title of A Collaboration in Music and Colour
“It’s a really interesting exploration of the relationship between the audible and visual,” says Kim.
Croatian accordion virtuoso Franko Bozac will be making his Late Music debut at St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel this afternoon, when Romey Collages will be showcased.
Composer James Williamson says: “This set of five pieces is a direct response to a set of monoprint collages by Romey. I first came across her work in 2016 in Blossom Street Gallery, where one of Romey’s collages was displayed on the wall and it immediately caught my eye.
“The collage was a vibrant display of repeated strips of colours, each strip with its own character, yet similar to the one before and after; a kind of self-similarity.”
At the time, James was working towards his PhD in composition, which drew on minimalist visual art and a fascination with the Deleuzian idea of difference and repetition and how might this apply to composing.
“To cut a long story short, I contacted Romey through the gallery to learn more about her work. We immediately connected over a coffee and thought it would be a great idea to collaborate on a project,” says James.
“Romey then created a series of five collages that drew inspiration from music, with each work having a musical title: Chaconne, Aubade, Nocturne, Pastorale and Berceuse. I then responded to these works and created a set of five pieces, each one being a musical interpretation of the works and their titles.
“Like most of my recent work, I use one or two ideas in each piece. I flesh these ideas out using repetition of singular fragments or phrases, juxtaposed by other contrasting fragments, similarly to Romey’s collages.”
Around the same time, James was contacted by Franko Bozac to commission a new piece. “I thought it would be great to tie the two projects together. I have always loved the accordion for its sound and versatility, and rather fittingly, when the bellows open up, it reminds me of collages themselves.”
In turn, Romey recalls: “I had a phone call from Kim, when I was exhibiting my monoprint collages in Blossom Street Gallery, saying that a young composer was interested in meeting me as he composed music the way I created my collages.
“I was very intrigued, and we met up for coffee outside York Theatre Royal. I hadn’t heard any of James’s compositions but was amazed by how we both could understand each other’s creative processes, and when he suggested a collaboration I was delighted to agree.”
On the bus back to her York studio, she thought of moods of the day from dawn to night. “Early the next day I travelled to Monks Cross on a very misty morning and Aubade/Dawn came to me,” she says. “The rest followed on, culminating in Nocturne/Night, inspired by the view from my studio through an established beech hedge of car headlights flashing past.
“I have since then indulged in listening to James’s compositions and created more collages inspired by his work. It’s been an exciting collaboration for me, and I hope to continue creating music-inspired images.”
Describing her modus operandi, Romey says: “My monoprints are created by painting with acrylic paint onto glass; the image is then transferred to paper. The glass is wiped clean each time a print is taken, therefore each one is unique.
“The collages are a development following on from the photographic ones I occasionally create. I am fascinated by how reorganising strips of my monoprints can bring more intensity to the colours and evoke memories and emotions.”
DrJames Williamson: the back story
STUDIED at University of Huddersfield and Royal Academy of Music, completing PhD in Composition at University of York.
His works have been performed by: Psappha; Aurora Orchestra; Hebrides Ensemble; London Sinfonietta; CoMA London; Croatian Philharmonic Orchestra; Lunar Saxophone Quartet; Delta Saxophone Quartet; Quatuor Diotima; Ligeti String Quartet; University of York Symphony Orchestra; RAM Symphony Orchestra; Kate Ledger (piano); Anna Snow (voice); Ian Pace (piano), Franko Bozac (accordion) and Stephen Altoft (19-division trumpet).
Broadcasts include BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction and Hear And Now, Beethoven FM (Chile) and Radio 3 Beograd.
Romey T. Brough: the back story
STUDIED initially at Harrow Art School in Middlesex, north of London. Awarded various certificates including national Diploma in Design.
Studied overseas in Italy in Positano, winning a scholarship. Studied with Professor Spadini at Rome Academy.
Work exhibited regularly at Royal Academy, London, and is in archives of Tate Gallery, London, and galleries and collections throughout UK, Japan, Australia and United States of America.
NORTH Eastern filum star Dave Johns, 2016 winner of the BIFA for Best Actor for his lead role in Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, headlines two comedy bills in York on Saturday.
The 8pm show in The Basement, at City Screen, York, has sold out already, so Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club master of ceremonies and programmer Damion Larkin has added a 5pm gig (doors, 4.30pm). Joining Johns and Larkin on both bills will be Jamie D’Souza, Becky Umbers and Phil Carr.
After more than half a lifetime in theatre and stand-up comedy (since 1989), Johns was picked by political filmmaker Loach to play Daniel Blake, a 59-year-old widowed carpenter, who must rely on welfare after a heart attack. Despite his doctor declaring him unfit to work, he is denied Employment and Support Allowance benefits and told to return to his job.
Johns gave an unforgettable performance but still he pounds the comedy beat, guesting on the comedy panel shows Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC2) and 8 Out Of Ten Cats (Channel 4) too.
Johns has played the major comedy clubs and comedy festivals, from Ireland’s Kilkenny Comedy Festival to Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Festival in Australia. He has worked on stage in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Johannesburg, Sydney, New York, Amsterdam and the Arctic too.
As well as a comedian, he is a scriptwriter whose credits include the stage adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Shawshank Redemption, co-written with Owen O’Neill.
He has acted on the West End stage with Christian Slater in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, as well as starring in Twelve Angry Men and The Odd Couple (with Bill Bailey and Alan Davies) at the Assembly Theatre, Edinburgh.
He is producing his own stage adaptation of Paul Laverty’s script for I, Daniel Blake, now on its UK premiere tour, playing the Courtyard Theatre at Leeds Playhouse until Saturday (7.45pm plus 2pm tomorrow and 2.30pm on Saturday; box office 0113 213 7700 or leedsplayhouse.org.uk).
Emerging from a musical background, support act Jamie D’Souza started performing comedy in the summer of 2016, reaching the finals of the So You Think You’re Funny? and Musical Comedy awards, as well as being shortlisted for the BBC New Comedy Award.
Mixing short stories and one-liners, he covers veganism, his mixed-race heritage and coming to terms with entering adulthood. He has appeared on the BBC Asian Network’s Stand Up Show and performs at clubs across the UK, such as the Comedy Store and Up The Creek.
Becky Umbers mixes storytelling and quirky observations in her “unique take on life with the voice to match”. Already a big deal down under in Australia, now she is a medium-size deal in the UK and Europe. Phil Carr favours dark humour in a deadpan delivery.
Tickets for the 5pm show are on sale at £19 (£23 on the door) at lolcomedyclubs.co.uk or in person at The Basement. The next LOL Comedy Club night at The Basement will be on November 4.
FROM Sir Grayson to Dame Joan, Rambert’s return to Hancock’s re-creation, Lawrence to James, Charles Hutchinson puts the names in the frame for upcoming artistic and cultural adventures.
A brush with an artist: Grayson Perry: A Show All About You, Harrogate Convention Centre, tomorrow, 7.30pm
ARTIST, iconoclast and television presenter Grayson Perry follows up A Show For Normal People with A Show All About You, wherein the new knight asks, “What makes you, you?”. Is there a part deep inside that no-one understands? Have you found your tribe or are you a unique human being? Or is it more complicated than that?
Perry, “white, male, heterosexual, able bodied, English, southerner, baby boomer and member of the establishment”, takes a mischievous look at the nature of identity, promising to make you laugh, shudder and reassess who you really are. Box office: 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.
York legend of the week: Steve Cassidy Band and Friends, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm
YORK’S Steve Cassidy Band play a varied range of rock, country and ballads and always love performing at his favourite venue, joined as ever by guests this weekend. A three-time winner of New Faces, Cassidy recorded with York composer John Barry and Sixties’ sonic innovator Joe Meek. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
National treasure of the week: Dame Joan Collins, Behind The Shoulder Pads, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 7.30pm
TO coincide with the release of her memoir Behind The Shoulder Pads, Hollywood legend, author, producer, humanitarian and entrepreneur Dame Joan Collins, 90, is embarking on a 12-date autumn tour with husband Percy Gibson by her side.
Returning to the Grand Opera House, where they presented Unscripted in February 2019, they will field audience questions and tell seldom-told tales and enchanting anecdotes, accompanied by rare footage from Dame Joan’s seven decades in showbusiness. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Comedy gig of the week: Fingers & Fringe in A Night At The Theatre, York Theatre Royal, Thursday, 7.30pm
JARRED Christmas hosts a Thursday bill of Clinton Baptiste, Huge Davies, Jake Lambert, Laura Lexx, Michael Akadiri, Abi Clarke and Jack Gleadow. Eight acts, one night of comedy at the theatre. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Nostalgia of the week: Apollo Theatre Company in Galton & Simpson’s Hancock’s Half Hour, Grand Opera House, York, Thursday,7.30pm
FROM the producers of the Round The Horne and The Goon Show tours comes another radio comedy classic live on stage. Written by young up-and-comers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, pre-Steptoe And Son, Hancock’s Half Hour introduced sitcom to the BBC’s Light Programme in 1954.
Tony Hancock played a less successful version of himself, surrounded by Sid James, Hattie Jacques and Kenneth Williams. Now, Apollo Theatre Company takes a trip back to 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam, to join “the lad himself” and his motley crew for three “lost” episodes, whose original recordings no longer exist but were re-created for BBC Radio 4 as The Missing Hancocks. John Hewer (Just Like That: The Tommy Cooper Show) plays Hancock with Ben Craze and Colin Elmer as James and Williams respectively. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Big in York, for one night only: Kieran Hodgson: Big In Scotland, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Thursday, 7.30pm
IN 2020, the world changed forever as Kieran Hodgson – Gordon from the BBC’s Two Doors Down – moved to Scotland. Now he is travelling around the still-just-about United Kingdom to reveal how it is working out. For him and for the Scots. Tickets update: Sold out; for returns only, tickets.41monkgate.co.uk. Also playing Selby Town Hall, Friday, 8pm; box office, 01757 708449 or selbytownhall.co.uk.
Cult gig of the week: Mozart Estate, The Crescent, York, October 7, 7.30pm
MOZART Estate is the new name for Go-Kart Mozart in the further adventures of Birmingham native Lawrence, cult leader of Eighties’ indie guitar band Felt and subject of the re-released 2011 documentary Lawrence Of Belgravia.
Lawrence – Hayward is his neglected surname – later led the pseudo-novelty band Denim, whose biting social commentary was coated in a bubblegum strain of Seventies’ glam rock. After four Go-Kart Mozart albums, he switched to Mozart Estate for January 2023’s Pop-Up! Ker-Ching! And The Possibilities Of Modern Shopping. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Looking ahead: James with special guests Razorlight, Leeds First Direct Arena, June 8 2024
JAMES will follow up the April 2024 release of their as-yet-untitled 17th studio album with an eight-date arena tour, taking in Leeds as the only Yorkshire venue. Tickets go on sale on October 6 at 9.30am at wearejames.com, gigsandtours.com and ticketmaster.co.uk.
Mixing the album this week, Clifford-raised frontman Tim Booth, 63, says: “The new songs sound belting and will fit this arena tour. Really looking forward to celebrating with you. Expect a mixture of the expected and unexpected – just like life. Nothing but love.”
In Focus: Dance show of the week: Rambert’s Death Trap, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday and Wednesday, 7.30pm
RAMBERT first toured to York Theatre Royal in 1951 and for almost 40 years were regular visitors to the city, performing there 17 times. Their last visit was in February 1990, and they return 33 years later with Death Trap, a “meta dance comedy, full of the turbulence of life and death” with themes of bereavement and loss, partial nudity, strong language and strobe and haze effects.
Rambert’s last show, Peaky Blinders: The Redemption Of Thomas Shelby, drew audiences in excess of 100,000, Now comes Death Trap, devised by Ben Duke, of Lost Dog, in a darkly humorous programme of stylish, inspiring, story-telling, character-driven dance theatre that combines two short, savage, absir, funny works: 2017’s Goat and 2022’s Cerberus.
Inspired by the music and spirit of Nina Simone, Goat is danced to a band on stage performing such iconic songs as Feelings, Feeling Good and Ain’t Got No/ I Got Life. Cerberus enters a world where dance is a matter of life or death in a bittersweet musing on myth and mortality, complete with funeral couture. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
GROUCHY godfather of political comedy Mark Thomas is taking to the stage for the first time in a one-man show written by someone else, playwright Ed Edwards.
Warmed up for last month’s award-laden Edinburgh Fringe run in a work-in-progress performance at Selby Town Hall in July, England & Son returns to North Yorkshire tomorrow (22/9/2023) and on Saturday in the York Theatre Royal Studio.
Set when The Great Devouring comes home, Edwards’s play has emerged from characters Thomas knew in his childhood and from Edwards’s experience in prison in the early 1990s, when jailed for three years for drug offences. [Edwards would write the first of his five novels while inside].
Promising deep, dark laughs and deep, dark love, Thomas undertakes a kaleidoscopic odyssey where disaster capitalism, empire, Thatcherite politics, stolen youth and robbed wealth, domestic violence, addiction, hope and recovery merge into the simple tale of a working-class boy who just wants his dad to smile at him.
Serendipity brought the two polemicists together in 2018. “I came out of a performance of Ed’s play The Political History Of Smack And Crack at Edinburgh and turned to my mate and said, ‘that was amazing’. This voice behind me said, ‘I wrote that’!” recalls Mark.
“So we met up, got on like a house on fire and became mates, coming to gigs, talking till the early hours about politics, and we always said it would be great to work together.”
Two years ago, they made the commitment to crack on with it. “We used to talk about stories, his story, my story, and then we’d work on it. I’d remember half of it, then make up the rest, and then I didn’t see the finished script until the first day of rehearsals, but I knew he’d written a banger, an absolute stormer.”
So much so, England & Son has won a Scotsman Fringe First Award, Entertainment Now Best Theatre Award, Lustrum Award for Unforgettable Festival Shows and Holden Street Theatres’ Award for its run under the direction of Cressida Brown at The Roundabout, a theatre-in-the-round tent.
Now Londoner Mark, 60, is back on familiar territory, on the road, albeit in an unfamiliar setting. “I get to play characters, be the narrator and me, all of that, in a show that’s all about how you tell a story, where you will do the voices, little shrugs and mannerisms, with me charging around the stage and knowing you can’t take your foot off the pedal for a second,” he says.
“The thing about stand-up is you have to be in the moment, but there’s a massively structured script with this show, though we always call it jazz, because if you do the same show twice, you will fail, but that’s good because it makes each show special.
“I’ve got a great opportunity to go and do something I’ve never done before, and because I’d never done it before, I didn’t know what to expect – I’ve been doing stand-up for 37 years – and what’s brilliant is you see the impact and you want that every night.
“If you put yourself on stage telling a story, you can’t coast, you can’t cruise, you have to put in 100 per cent, otherwise cancel the show.”
Mark “wants people to be rent asunder in the desolation of the emotional wreckage” in England & Son. “I’ve always tried to do stuff that does more than make people laugh. Stand-up is in the moment, whereas theatre takes you into an emotional place and I’ve always dabbled in both, but now I’ve taken the reins off and it’s thrilling. I’ve loved it, but I got Covid at the end of the [Edinburgh] Fringe, so I was livid! I couldn’t wait to get back out there.”
Already Mark has “some ideas to get another play out there”, having so enjoyed working with Edwards. “The interesting thing with Ed is that he’s an addict, who got clean before going to jail, and I’ve had issues with alcohol, so we both recognise addiction. There’s something about being in a room with brutally honest people, which has been an influence on this show,” he says.
“Addicts and alcoholics are always telling their stories at meetings and consultations, and what we do in the comedy workshops I run with addicts is to turn it into something beautiful, making it into art.
“Because of my own issues, I’d ask them questions and say, ‘go and write something stupid that you did’, and then I’ll give them my list. It’s a meeting of people as equals.”
More of those workshops are on the way, along with Mark’s England & Son travels, rooted in the political philosophy that any nation that devours another will one day devour itself. “It’s Ed’s title and it’s about England’s relationships, about fathers and sons and families, the damage they can do to each other, but also the hope,” he says.
“As Studs Terkel’s book said, hope dies last, and there’s something with addiction where there can be a thin line between hope and illusion, and that’s why people keep going to those meetings that are profoundly honest.”
England And Son captures a basic human instinct too: “Every single one of us, from the moment we are born, we want the love of our parents,” says Mark. “We want their attention.”
Wanting attention? That applies to writers, performers, comedians too. Give England & Son yours. Five-star reviews demand it.
Mark Thomas in England & Son, York Theatre Royal Studio, September 22, 7.45pm; September 23, 2pm and 7.45pm.Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Ed Edwards: the back story
STARTED his creative career as a circus performer but stopped at the age when you start to think, “This is actually dangerous”. He now juggles a writing career, lecturing, making films and rearing two sons.
Virtually illiterate at the age of 11, Ed eventually managed to educate himself, go to university and become a professional writer. Today he is “only one-third illiterate”, he says.
He did three-and-a-half years in prison in the early 1990s for drugs offences, publishing his first novel while inside. He has five novels and a children’s book to his name and has worked for several continuing television dramas, including Holby City and the now defunct Brookside and The Bill, although he maintains that is not the reason they died.
He has written several original plays for BBC Radio 4 and made short films for Channel 4. He has turned to guerrilla film-making, directing short films and co-directing and producing the feature film Scrambled.
His plays include The Political History Of Smack And Crack and England And Son. He misses the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro and loves making jam and writing about himself in the third person.
Did you know?
MARK Thomas has done shows about visiting the West Bank, starting a comedy club in Jenin, espionage, lobbying Parliament, walking in the footsteps of the highest NHS officials, playing at the Royal Opera House, stopping arms deals and creating manifestos.
Devouring the stage: Mark Thomas in England & Son. Picture: Alex Banner
The artwork for Mark Thomas in England & Son. Picture: Design By Greg
“If you put yourself on stage telling a story, you can’t coast, you can’t cruise, you have to put in 100 per cent, otherwise cancel the show,” says Mark Thomas. Picture: Steve Ullathorne
FRENCH comedy, a very English murder thriller, state-of-the-nation politics and police procedures stir Charles Hutchinson into action for the week ahead.
Comedy gigs of the week: Dawn French Is A Huge Twat, York Barbican, tonight and tomorrow, 7.30pm
HER show is so named because, unfortunately, it is horribly accurate, says self-mocking comedian and actress Dawn French. “There have been far too many times I have made stupid mistakes or misunderstood something vital or jumped the gun in a spectacular display of twattery,” she explains.
“I thought I might tell some of these buttock-clenching embarrassing stories to give the audience a peek behind the scenes of my work life.” Tickets update: Limited availability at yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Tonight, meanwhile, Sarah Millican plays a Work In Progress gig at Pocklington Arts Centre at 8pm. Sold out already alas.
Thriller of the week: Original Theatre Company in Murder In The Dark, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees
TOM Chambers and Susie Blake star in Torben Betts’s new ghost story chiller cum psychological thriller, set on New Year’s Eve, when a crash on a deserted road brings washed-up singer Danny Sierra and his dysfunctional family to an isolated holiday cottage in rural England.
From the moment they arrive, inexplicable events begin to occur…and then the lights go out, whereupon deeply buried secrets come to light. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Children’s show of the week: Magic, Monsters and Mayhem with Robin Simpson, Bluebird Bakery, Acomb Road, Acomb, tomorrow, 4.30pm
YORK Theatre Royal pantomime dame Robin Simpson – he will be playing Dame Trott in Jack And The Beanstalk this winter – switches to storyteller mode to journey back to magic school on Sunday afternoon.
He will be telling stories of wonderful creatures, exciting adventures and “more magic than you can wave a wand” as he places the audience in charge of an interactive show ideal for Harry Potter fans. Suitable for Key Stage 2, but smaller siblings are welcome too, along with Potter-potty grown-ups. Box office: bluebirdbakery.co.uk.
Police spotted operating in the vicinity: Mikron Theatre in A Force To Be Reckoned With, Clements Hall, Nunthorpe Road, York, tomorrow, 4pm
IN Amanda Whittington’s new play for Marsden travelling players Mikron Theatre, fresh from police training school, WPC Iris Armstrong is ready for whatever the mean streets of a 1950s’ northern market town can throw at her.
Joining forces with fellow WPC Ruby Weston, they make an unlikely partnership, a two-woman department, called to any case involving women and children, from troublesome teens to fraudulent fortune tellers. Box office: 07974 867301 or 01904 466086, or in person from Pextons, Bishopthorpe Road, York.
Songwriting bond of the week: Kathryn Williams & Polly Paulusma: The Big Sky Tour, Pocklington Arts Centre, Tuesday, 8pm
AS label buddies on One Little Independent Records, Kathryn Williams and Polly Paulusma met on a song-writing retreat. They wrote songs together and tutored courses at Arvon Foundation and as their friendship developed and strengthened, they supported each other over lockdown.
It seemed a foregone conclusion that they would tour together at some point. Finally, those Thelma and Louise dreams – hopefully without the killing or the cliff finale – come true on a month-long itinerary, playing solo sets and uniting for a few songs. Box office: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
Streets ahead: Mike Skinner’s film The Darker The Shadow The Brighter The Light and Q&A, Everyman Leeds, September 21, 8pm; Everyman York, September 25, 7pm
THE Streets’ Mike Skinner presents his debut feature film, the “neo-noir” clubland thriller The Darker The Shadow The Brighter The Light, in an exclusive Q&A tour to Everyman cinemas.
Birmingham multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Skinner funded, wrote, directed, filmed, edited and scored his cinematic account of the seemingly mundane life of a DJ whose journey through London’s nightclubs turns into a tripped-out modern-day murder mystery. Each screening will be followed by a live question-and-answer session with Skinner, giving an insight into the music and story behind the film. Box office: thestreets.co.uk.
Political drama of the week: Mark Thomas in England And Son, York Theatre Royal Studio, September 22, 7.45pm; September 23, 2pm and 7.45pm
POLITICAL comedian Mark Thomas stars in this one-man play, set when The Great Devouring comes home: the first he has performed not written by the polemicist himself but by playwright Ed Edwards.
Edinburgh Fringe award winner England And Son has emerged from characters Thomas knew in his childhood and from Edwards’s lived experience in jail. Promising deep, dark laughs and deep, dark love, Thomas undertakes a kaleidoscopic odyssey where disaster capitalism, Thatcherite politics and stolen wealth merge into the simple tale of a working-class boy who just wants his dad to smile at him. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Print deadline: York Printmakers Autumn Fair, York Cemetery Chapel and Harriet Room, September 23 and 24, 10am to 5pm
IN its sixth year, the York Printmakers Autumn Fair features work by 26 members, exhibiting and selling hand-printed original prints, including Russell Hughes, Rachel Holborow, Michelle Hughes, Harriette Rymer and Jo Rodwell.
On display will be a variety of printmaking techniques, such as linocut, collagraphs, woodcut, screen printing, stencilling and etching. Artists will be on hand to discuss their working methods and to show the blocks, plates and tools they use.
In Focus:Theatre event of the week: Alan Ayckbourn’s Truth Will Out, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, tomorrow, 2.30pm
IN a rare stage appearance, Sir Alan Ayckbourn plays Jim in a rehearsed reading of his Covic-crocked 2020 SJT premiere Truth Will Out, joined by John Branwell, Frances Marshall and the cast of his 89th play, Constant Companions.
Truth Will Out is an up-to-the-minute satire on family, relationships, politics and the state of the nation, wherein everyone has secrets. Certainly former shop steward George, his right-wing MP daughter Janet, investigative journalist Peggy and senior civil servant Sefton do.
Enter a tech-savvy, chippy teenager with a mind of his own and time on his hands to bring their worlds tumbling down, and maybe everyone else’s along with them, in Ayckbourn’s own “virus” storyline, written before Coronavirus stopped play.
“It’s ‘the one that got away’, with most of the cast in place, and we even did a season launch,” says Sir Alan. “The play was one of my ‘What ifs’: what if a teenager invented a virus that brought the whole thing down. A ‘virus’ play, like Covid, with the virus escaping and the play ending in the dark, waiting till dawn.”
Racism, trade unionism and infidelity all play their part in Truth Will Out too. “It’s a melting pot of wrongdoings,” says Sir Alan. Tickets update: limited availability on 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com.