Scrum down for Luke Adamson’s fun and games with Twelfth Night at Selby RUFC

A variation on Malvolio’s cross-gartered stocking theme: Yellow and black rugby socks for Luke Adamson’s version of Twelfth Night on the Selby RUFC pitch

“I’M just getting in touch to announce that we’re doing some Shakespeare on a rugby pitch in Selby in August. Crazy? Perhaps. But it’s going to be fun!”, promises the email from Luke Adamson.

The Selby actor, London pub theatre boss and son of former England squad fly half Ray Adamson will be returning to the scene of his “greatest triumphs” – two times winner of Selby Rugby Club’s Stars in Their Eyes competition, no less – to present Twelfth Night on August 20 and 21.

Adapted and directed by Adamson, his raucous, musical version of “Shakespeare’s funniest play” will be staged on Selby RUFC turf by JLA Productions with Adamson as the foppish comic foil Sir Andrew Aguecheek in a cast rich with Yorkshire acting talent.

Twelfth Night is the Shakespeare one where identical twins Sebastian and Viola are separated at sea after their ship sinks. When Viola washes up on the shores of Illyria, she must disguise herself as a man in order to gain employment with the local Duke, Orsino.

“Filled with slapstick comedy, famous songs and more than a few modern references, our Twelfth Night promises to be a fast, funny, family-friendly show for all ages,” says Luke Adamson, Selby actor-director and former Selby RUFC fifth team scrum half

In a nutshell, “Orsino is in love with Olivia; Olivia is in love with Viola (who she thinks is a man called Cesario); Malvolio thinks Olivia is in love with him; Viola is in love with Orsino (who also thinks she is a man called Cesario),” runs the plot.

“Antonia is in love with Sebastian; Sir Andrew is trying to woo Olivia; Feste is stirring the pot and Sir Toby Belch and Maria are getting drunk and making mischief.”

Ah, yes, that one! “Out go pantaloons, cross garters and big fluffy collars,” says Luke. “In come rugby socks, cricket jumpers and questionable facial hair. Filled with slapstick comedy, famous songs and more than a few modern references, it promises to be a fast, funny, family-friendly show for all ages.”

Luke, artistic director of JLA Productions and The Bridge House Theatre, in London SE20, is no stranger to the Selby RUFC pitches. He once played scrum half alongside his fly-half father Ray, who toured Australia and Fiji as part of England’s squad in 1988.

Perfect pitch! Luke Adamson and fellow Slung Low cast members Sally Ann Staunton, Nadia Imam and Tyron Maynard for Rugby Songs, performed at Selby RUFC in July 2017

“It was for Selby  fifth team” recalls Luke, who later returned to the ground on a Sunday afternoon in July 2017 as part of the squad for Leeds company Slung Low’s free Selby Arts Festival performance of Lisa Holdsworth’s Rugby Songs: the show with headsets for the crowd, first staged at assorted Yorkshire grounds during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Luke knew Slung Low director Alan Lane from doing Blood + Chocolate with him in York in 2013 and festival director David Edmunds from when his Dep Arts organisation helped him to  tour One Last Waltz, a play about Alzheimer’s.

“The prospect of doing a show with rugby songs at rugby club grounds was something I wanted to get involved with, so I contacted Alan,” he says.

“I’d played Rugby Union since junior days, as a scrum half, starting at seven years old, and my dad went on tour with England in 1988, when he was playing for fly half and full back for Wakefield, and he was also in the squad for the Five Nations, so it was interesting when the script came through, with stories such as when England fans first sang Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, at Twickenham that year.”

Ray Adamson, Wakefield and Selby fly half, 1988 England squad member and actor Luke’s father, in his playing days

Chris Oti, England’s black winger, had scored a second-half hattrick of tries that March afternoon in a 35-3 victory, prompting the Twickenham throng to burst into their tribute song. “‘I was there’, my dad said. ‘What, you were in the crowd?’ I asked him. ‘No, I was on the England bench’!”

Ray reached the rugby heights, first as a player then as a referee, and Luke showed promise too. “I played in the North Yorkshire squad for one season in my age group, but by then I was starting to go to youth theatre in York and I knew that was the route I wanted to go down, but I did play a season with the Selby fifths with my dad in 2006-2007,” he recalls.

The July 2017 sold-out performance took place on Selby RUFC’s first-team pitch with the crowd on the touchlines, hearing every note and story behind each national song, from New Zealand’s Haka to South Africa’s Shosholoza, through hi-tech headphone technology, the trademark of Slung Low’s outdoor productions.

Luke, who appeared in the 2015 production too, performed with Nadia Imam, Tyron Maynard and Sally Ann Staunton, each kitted in myriad national rugby shirts.

The post for JLA Productions’ Twelfth Night at Selby RUFC

“Doing it in the middle of summer, it was so hot as we each had to have six jerseys on at one point – and we had to make sure we’d all got them on in the right order,” he says Luke.

The Kiwis’ Haka is traditionally the most fearsome sight and sound in world rugby, but Luke fondly remembers that not being the case on that Sunday afternoon. “I’m not sure it’s quite as intimidating when you have just four actors,” he concedes. “But the message was very profound and philosophical about life and death.”

Now he will return to Selby RUFC, for all the fun and games of Twelfth Night, later this summer.

JLA Productions in Twelfth Night, Selby Rugby Union Football Club, August 20, 7.30pm; August 21, 2.30pm, 7.30pm. Tickets are on sale at jlaproductions.co.uk with discounts available for family bookings.

Why playwright Amy Ng has transferred Strindberg’s Miss Julie to 1940s’ Hong Kong

Jennifer Leong as Christine in New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse’s Miss Julie

ON the Chinese New Year in 1940s’ Hong Kong, celebrations are in full swing when Julie, daughter of the island’s British governor, crashes the servants’ party downstairs.

What starts as a game descends into a fight for survival as sex, power, money and race collide on a hot night in the Pearl River Delta in British-Hong Kong playwright Amy Ng’s adaptation of August Strindberg’s once-banned Swedish play.

On the eve of New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse’s new tour opening at York Theatre Royal, Amy takes part in a quickfire question-and-answer session. 

How does it feel to be able to bring Miss Julie back to live audiences, from tomorrow at York Theatre Royal?

Amazing.  Hopeful.  Anxiety-inducing.  Hostage to Covid-variants.”   

Why did you choose to transfer Strindberg’s 19th century play to 1940s’ Hong Kong, and what does it add to the story? 

“The initial idea to adapt Miss Julieto Hong Kong came from Alex Clifton, artistic director of Chester Storyhouse. He envisioned a contemporary Miss Julie that could comment directly on the political situation in Hong Kong now, caught between its British colonial past and the realities of rule by Beijing. 

“On reflection, I felt that a contemporary adaptation of Miss Juliewas not possible as the social taboos surrounding sexual relationships across class and race are simply not as strong now as they were in the past.  

“I thought that the set-up of two servants versus an aristocrat was full of potential — if we made the two servants Chinese and the aristocratic lady a daughter of the British colonial elite in Hong Kong.  I picked the late 1940s because this was the time when social structures and racial hierarchies started to quake.  The British colonial masters had lost prestige and respect after their defeat in Hong Kong by the Japanese, and things were never quite the same even after they resumed power after the war.”    

Playwright Amy Ng

What does the transposition to Hong Kong add to the story? 

“Obviously transposing the story to Hong Kong allowed me to explore racial relations and colonialism, which are themes completely absent from the original Strindberg play.  It also allowed me to counter the misogyny in the Strindberg version by building up the character of Christine, envisioning her as a member of the sisterhood of domestic servants (“sor hei”), who chose celibacy to retain their freedom in a patriarchal society where wives were subjected to their husbands.  

What do you hope audiences take away from watching Miss Julie? 

“How race, class and gender hierarchies distort personal relationships; how those tensions can destroy everything that is genuine and beautiful in relationships unless we challenge those hierarchies.”    

Finally, what would you say to anyone considering buying a ticket for the show?

“You won’t regret it!  Director Dadiow Lin has created a beautiful production with the amazing actors Jennifer Leong, Sophie Robinson and Leo Wan.”  

New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse’s 2021 tour of Miss Julie opens at York Theatre Royal, June 22 to 26, 8pm nightly; 3pm, Thursday and Saturday. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Amy Ng:  the back story

AMY Ngis a British-Hong Kong playwright, whose theatre credits include Under The Umbrella (Belgrade Theatre/UK tour), Acceptance (Hampstead Theatre) and Shangri-La (Finborough Theatre).

She is under commission to the Royal Shakespeare Company and ice&fire, is developing her play Thatcher In China at the National Theatre Studio and is part of the inaugural Genesis Almeida New Playwrights Big Plays programme.

Pocklington Arts Centre confirms July 21 reopening and first film show in 491 days

Open welcome: Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer looks forward to reopening on July 20

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre will reopen to the public on July 20 and film screenings will re-start on July 23, 491 days since the last performance.

Director Janet Farmer and venue manager James Duffy have chosen this date to ensure the safety of customers and volunteers.

“Over the past few months, our main focus has been planning the safe reopening of the building, ensuring all staff are trained appropriately and making sure the venue has all its new systems, resources and processes in place and working well,” says Janet. 

“We have sought feedback from staff, volunteers and customers and this will be vital to the success of this process. Our main aim is to ensure the visitor experience at Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) is safe, secure and enjoyable.”

In late-March 2020, the East Yorkshire venue launched a crowdfunding page, raising more than £18,000 in under a month, followed by successful funding applications to the Smile Foundation’s I Am Fund and the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. 

Spiers & Boden: October 20 booking at Pocklington Arts Centre

Janet says: “I would like to thank our customers, in addition to Pocklington Town Council, the Friends of PAC, the Smile Foundation, Arts Council England and the Music Venue Trust for their collective support over the past year. 

“It has been a very difficult time for everyone, but their kind words, financial support and continued interest in all things PAC has meant a great deal and helped carry the venue through these extraordinary times.”

Staff have rescheduled forthcoming events for the autumn and winter, transferring more than 4,000 tickets and refunding customers for 20-plus cancelled events. 

“Throughout the closure period, we have stated our determination to emerge from the situation more vibrant than ever and our autumn and winter programme is a testament to that,” says Janet. 

“2021/22 will see a fantastic range of live events being staged here, alongside our trademark diverse mix of film screenings, live broadcasts, exhibitions, community events and private hires.” 

Velma Celli: York’s queen of vocal drag will make Pocklington debut on December 3. Picture: Kirkpatrick Photography

In the diary are Grammy Award winner Loudon Wainwright III, September 24; Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) in Oscar Wilde’s “trivial comedy for serious people”, The Importance Of Being Earnest, September 30; North Eastern gypsy folk-rockers Holy Moly & The Crackers, October 16; Oxford singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore, October 7, and Irish jazz/blues chanteuse Mary Coughlan, October 19.

Bellowhead alumni and BBC Radio Folk Award winners Spiers & Boden are booked in for October 20; Red Ladder Theatre Company, from Leeds, in Nana-Kofi Kufuor’s My Voice Was Heard But Was Ignored, for November 25; television and radio broadcaster and author Jeremy Vine, November 26; Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph, December 2, and York drag diva deluxe Velma Celli, December 3.

Confirmed for 2022 are An Evening With Julian Norton, from Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet, January 18; singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson, January 22;Welsh guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and former Amen Corner cornerstone Andy Fairweather Low, February 11, and Eighties’ pop singer and actress Toyah Willcox, March 3.

PAC’s two open-air acoustic concerts in Primrose Wood, Pocklington, with Martin Simpson and Katie Spencer on July 1 and The Dunwells and Rachel Croft on July 8 will go ahead despite the Government’s Step 4 roadmap delay, but now under social-distancing restrictions. Both 7pm shows have sold out.

Janet says: “We always knew this was a possibility when the shows were first planned and there’s sufficient space for people to enjoy the event safely, while experiencing the atmospheric setting of Primrose Wood.”

Martin Simpson: Headlining at a sold-out Primrose Woods on July 1

PAC increased its online artistic output during the pandemic, staging 18 events to more than 9,000 audience members. 

In addition, a series of outdoor exhibitions has been held by PAC across the region. York artists Sue Clayton and Karen Winship have shown work at All Saints’ Church, Pocklington, and Sue will be following Karen into Hull Waterside and Marina. Those attending the York Vaccination Centre at Askham Bar can see her Down Syndrome portraits in the Tent of Hope. 

“We felt it was vitally important to have continued customer engagement throughout the prolonged closure period and the public response to these events and exhibitions has been very positive,” says Janet. 

“We’re also very much aware there’s no substitute to watching a live performance, in person, and sharing this experience with fellow audience members. 

“Everyone at PAC is now counting down the days until the doors can reopen and we can welcome customers back. It’s been a very long interval and we can’t wait for the second half to begin.”

For full event listings and ticket details, go to: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

York artist Karen Winship at the launch of her NHS Heroes exhibition at Hull Waterside and Marina

More Things To Do in and around York before and after Johnson’s “Terminus Est”. List No. 37, courtesy of The Press, York


A fight for survival as sex, power, money and race collide on a hot night: Sophie Robinson as Julie in New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse’s Miss Julie at York Theatre Royal

FREEDOM Day is delayed but Boris Johnson has reached for the Latin dictionary again with his promise of “Terminus Est”.  Meanwhile, back in the real world, life goes on in Charles Hutchinson’s socially distanced diary.

Play of the week ahead: Miss Julie, The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, June 22 to 26

ON the Chinese New Year in 1940s’ Hong Kong, the celebrations are in full swing when Julie, the daughter of the island’s British governor, crashes the servants’ party downstairs.

What starts as a game descends into a fight for survival as sex, power, money and race collide on a hot night in the Pearl River Delta in British-Hong Kong playwright Amy Ng’s adaptation of Strindberg’s psychological drama in New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse’s new touring production. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Reopening today: Leeds Grand Theatre auditorium will be welcoming an audience for the first time in 15 months

Reopening of the day: Leeds Grand Theatre

WHEN Leeds Grand Theatre first opened its doors on Monday, November 18 1878, a playbill declared it would “Positively Open”. Now, after 15 months under wraps, it is “Positively Reopening” today (17/62021) for a socially distanced run of Northern Ballet’s Swan Lake until June 26.

In Northern Ballet‘s emotive retelling, Anthony’s life is haunted by guilt after the tragic loss of his brother. When he finds himself torn between two loves, he looks to the water for answers.

There he finds solace with the mysterious swan-like Odette as the story is beautifully reimagined by David Nixon, who will be leaving the Leeds company after 20 years as artistic director in December. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or at boxoffice@leedsheritagetheatres

Abba Mania: Saying thank you for the superSwedes’ music at York Racecourse on June 26

Staying on track: Sounds In The Grounds, Clocktower Enclosure, York Racecourse, June 25 to 27

JAMBOREE Entertainment presents three Covid safety-compliant Sounds In The Grounds concerts next weekend with socially distanced picnic patches at York Racecourse.

First up, next Friday, will be Beyond The Barricade, a musical theatre celebration starring former Les Miserables principals; followed by Abba Mania next Saturday and the country hits of A Country Night In Nashville next Sunday.

Opening each show will be York’s party, festival and wedding favourites, The New York Brass Band. Tickets are on sale at soundsinthegrounds.seetickets.com or at the gate for last-minute decision makers.

The poster for the return of the York River Art Market

Welcome back: York River Art Market, Dame Judi Dench Walk, York, from June 26

AFTER the pandemic ruled out all last year’s live events, York River Art Market returns to its riverside railing perch at Dame Judi Dench Walk, by Lendal Bridge, for ten shows this summer in the wake of the winter’s online #YRAMAtHome, organised by Charlotte Dawson.

Free to browse and for sale will be work by socially distanced, indie emerging and established artists on June 26, July 3, 24, 25 and 31 and August 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28, from 10.30am to 5.30pm, when YRAM will be raising funds for York Rescue Boat.

On show will be landscape and abstract paintings; ink drawings, cards and prints; jewellery and glass mosaics; woodwork and metalwork; textiles and clothing and artisan candles and beauty products.

Alexander Wright: Contemplating his debut solo performance of poems, stories and new writing on July 10. Picture: Megan Drury

He’s nervous, but why? Alexander Wright: Remarkable Acts Of Narcissism, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, July 10, 7.30pm

LET Alex tell the story: “In a potentially remarkable act of narcissism, I am doing a solo gig of my own work in a theatre I built (with Phil Grainger and dad Paul Wright) in my back garden. 

“It’s the first time I have ever done a solo gig. I write lots of stuff, direct lots of stuff, tour Orpheus, Eurydice & The Gods to hundreds of places. But I’ve never really stood in front of people and performed my own stuff, on my own, for an extended period. So, now, I am…and I’m nervous about it.”

Expect beautiful stories, beautiful poems and a few beautiful special guests; tickets via atthemill.org.

Ringmaster and Dame Dolly Donut in TaleGate Theatre’s Goldilocks And The Three Bears at Pocklington Arts Centre

Summer “pantomime”? Yes, in TaleGate Theatre’s Goldlilocks And The Three Bears, Pocklington Arts Centre, August 12, 2.30pm

ALL the fun of live family theatre returns to Pocklington Arts Centre this summer with Doncaster company TaleGate Theatre’s big top pantomime extravaganza.

In Goldilocks And The Three Bears, pop songs, magic and puppets combine in a magical adventure where you are invited to help Goldilocks and her mum, Dame Dolly Donut, save their circus and rescue the three bears from the evil ringmaster. For tickets, go to: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys: Headliners to be found at The Magpies Festival in Sutton-on-the-Forest in August

Festival alert: The Magpies Festival, Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, August 14, music on bar stage from 1.30pm; main stage, from 2.30pm

SAM Kelly & The Lost Boys will headline The Magpies Festival in the grounds of Sutton Park.

Confirmed for the folk-flavoured line-up too are: Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra; Blair Dunlop; fast-rising Katherine Priddy; The Magpies; York musician Dan Webster; East Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer; the duo Roswell and The People Versus. Day tickets and camping tickets are available at themagpiesfestival.co.uk/tickets.   

A variation on Malvolio’s cross-gartered stocking theme: Yellow and black rugby socks for Luke Adamson’s version of Twelfth Night on the Selby RUFC pitch

Fun and games combined: JLA Productions in Twelfth Night, Selby Rugby Union Football Club, August 20, 7.30pm; August 21, 2.30pm, 7.30pm

“I’M just getting in touch to announce we’re doing some Shakespeare on a rugby pitch in Selby in August. Crazy? Perhaps. But it’s going to be fun!” promises Luke Adamson, Selby-born actor, London theatre boss and son of former England squad fly half Ray.

Adapted and directed by Adamson, a raucous, musical version of “Shakespeare’s funniest play”, Twelfth Night, will be staged with Adamson as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in a cast rich with Yorkshire acting talent.

Out go pantaloons and big fluffy collars, in come rugby socks, cricket jumpers and questionable facial hair. Box office: jlaproductions.co.uk.

‘It’s one of those shows that people love,’ says The Damned United actor Luke Dickson as Clough’s tragedy plays York NEWSFLASH…

Not having a ball: Luke Dickson’s splenetic Brian Clough in Red Ladder Theatre Company’s The Damned United

NEWSFLASH!

THE Damned Pandemic curse strikes again as tonight’s performance of The Damned United is OFF after one of the actors had an inconclusive lateral flow test. The show has been rearranged for Thursday, July 15, kick-off 7.30pm. Tickets remain valid.

BRIAN Clough lasted all of 44 days as manager of Leeds United in the cauldron of hatred in the summer of 1974.

By comparison, Luke Dickson is in fourth tour of playing Clough in his brief, bruising, self-destructive tenure when Elland Road turns into Helland Road in The Damned United.

“It keeps coming back,” says the Leeds-born actor, whose latest fixture list sends him to York Theatre Royal in Red Ladder Theatre Company’s touring production tomorrow night.

“I think we’ll have done something in excess of the 120-show mark, with me, David Chafer and Jamie Smelt in the cast, and we just keep returning! It’s one of those shows that people love.”

Ah, love. That might explain The Damned United’s otherwise baffling inclusion in The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, given how much spite and loathing, and not one heartbeat of love, pumps through the Leeds chapters of the Clough story.

The truth is more prosaic, as explained by chief executive Tom Bird: Rod Dixon’s show was booked in already when the reopening season’s theme took shape.

The cover to the alternative “War and Peace”, David Peace’s biographical novel The Damned Utd

Enfant terrible Clough despised Don Revie’s “Dirty Leeds” and the feeling was mutual, drawing Dewsbury-born author David Peace to construct a psychodrama inside the life of Brian’s head: the biographical novel The Damned Utd, published in 2006.

Tom Hopper’s film, starring Michael Sheen, ensued in 2009 under the title The Damned United, and Leeds company Red Ladder have since presented various stage manifestations of Anders Lustgarten’s darkly humorous adaptation, built around the double act of Clough and father figure/assistant Peter Taylor.

Heading deep into the tortured mind of a flawed genius, slamming up against his limits, The Damned United brings to life the beauty and brutality of football, the working man’s ballet, in a story of sweat and booze, fury and power battles. 

The performing rights were donated by Peace to Red Ladder for all of £3.68 – a penny for each page in the novel – as a show of support for the Leeds company when it suffered a 100 per cent cut to Arts Council funding.

Red Ladder artistic director Rod Dixon says: “As a story, The Damned United has it all – passion, power struggles, tragedy and a classic anti-hero in Clough – which lends itself brilliantly to theatre.

“Anders’ adaptation captures the grit, poetry and darkness of David Peace’s writing, and by charting the fall of Brian Clough and exposing what made ‘Old Big ’Ea’ tick, audiences are given a fascinating insight into the troubled but brilliant mind of a flawed genius – who, to this day, remains one of the most controversial figures in sporting history.”

“As a story, The Damned United has it all – passion, power struggles, tragedy and a classic anti-hero in Clough,” says Red Ladder artistic director Rod Dixon

Dickson loves author Peace’s definition of his character study of Clough, a figure as divisive yet as indelibly part of British Seventies and Eighties’ life as Margaret Thatcher. “He said it isn’t a photograph; it’s a portrait; it’s interpretative, not merely biographical, but creative, trying to get inside the troubled head of Clough, quite horrifically, but poetically too,” he says.

Raised in Leeds, Dickson supports LUFC, albeit without the dedication of a season-ticket holder, but he knows Clough is the Hamlet of football roles on stage. “I enjoy football, like anyone, and I’m working in a show where everyone is a staunch supporter of a club, more so than me, and everyone has an opinion on Clough, saying, ‘he did this’ or ‘he did that’,” he says.

“I thought, ‘just leave it with me; I need to find my own path to his character, so I read a lot about him, particularly his childhood, his life around football, and what gave him such a big chip on his shoulder, and that aggressive, cruel tendency to lay into people.

“It’s more about the man than the manager, which is where the drama lies, the human condition, in Clough’s story.”

Dickson’s Clough, Chafer’s right-hand man Peter Taylor and Jamie Smelt’s “everyone else” last toured The Damned United two and a half years ago, and while returning to the play in part mirrors climbing back on a bike after a fall, there is more to the revival than that.

“You can definitely play with the nuances, the intonations, to keep it fresh on stage for us as actors, playing a scene a little differently,” says Luke. “David might come up with something different, and I have to react, and we also have to find a way to slow it down, to let it breathe more, when it’s so fast paced, to find the moment.

Double act: David Chafer as Peter Taylor and Luke Dickson as Brian Clough in The Damned United

“We first did it at the Edinburgh Fringe, where everything has to be under an hour, whereas the original incarnation at the West Yorkshire Playhouse was around 75 minutes.

“Our version now runs just over an hour, with no interval apropos of Covid, and the script hasn’t changed from the last tour. I have to say there’s a fun feel to it this time, and once people are in the auditorium, sitting down, all those Covid thoughts wash away, and you’re all just there to enjoy the show.”

How has Dickson dealt with performing to audiences in masks? “Do you know, the masks haven’t affected it. You can still hear people talking during the show, saying ‘I was at that match’, because you’re playing to a football crowd as much as a theatre crowd,” he says. “Funnily enough, there are always people who stand up after 45 minutes, because that’s when it’s normally half-time!

“But back to masks, they’re becoming so commonplace now, it doesn’t really have an impact on me, and even if you can’t hear a smile, you can hear the chatter.”

On a fourth tour, Dickson is still discovering “new things” within The Damned United. “There’s such a lot to this story. How many times has this play been done in Leeds? It must be well into double figures now, but we still get good audiences. I must be eight years older now than Clough was when he was at Leeds, but I’ve still got a good head of hair!”

At the core of The Damned United is the Clough and Taylor double act, with all the highs and lows, the friendship and fall-outs, that go with such partnerships, and now in turn the bond of Dickson and Chafer.

Glory, glory Leeds United…or gory, gory Leeds United? The Don Revie squad, 16 internationals et al, before the arrival of Brian Clough

“We were talking the other day about what we might feel, in a year’s time, if other people were brought into the cast, and it would feel strange now if that happened, because we really need each other on stage,” says Luke.

“Looking at Clough and Taylor, there have been numerous books written about them, and it’s like a platonic male friendship that’s really deep running with all the ups and downs that can go with that, which I recognise from my own friendships that can feel unbreakable.

“But then you’re spending less time with them or you’re not in touch, which happened with Clough and Taylor, but because they had football within their friendship, they had to mix business and pleasure. Clough demanded such loyalty but then he had no compunction in deciding to leave Brighton for Leeds.”

The Damned United has the heightened intensity of a Greek tragedy, albeit leavened by dark humour. “It’s a tragic tale and Anders’ script brilliantly captures the central chapters within that tale in only an hour, which is no mean feat – though he would say he had wonderful source material. It’s a fantastic micro-display of friendship between two men.”

The Damned United tour is playing against the counter attraction of the Euro 2020 tournament, but on the other hand that means football is uppermost in people’s chat. “I’ll have to miss live matches, but that’s a cross I’ll just have to bear,” says Luke.

Red Ladder Theatre Company in The Damned United, The Love Season, York Theatre Royal, tomorrow (16/6/2021), kick-off 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Can’t see the wood for the bricks? Then head to Chalmers & Hutch’s podcast

Ah, but they’re not bricks, as tree-hugger Hutch discovers close up. These wood blocks form part of Karin Van Der Molen’s sculpture, Shield, at the Himalayan Gardens, Grewelthorpe, near Ripon

BE pepped up by the one and only arts club badinage from Two Big Egos In A Small car podcasters Chalmers & Hutch, as they discuss Grewelthorpe’s jewel, the Himalayan Gardens; Velma Celli’s Drag Brunch; Metronomy’s English Riviera landmark; the “Top 20 Most Inspirational Novels”; York’s strange version of The Masked Singer and Cruella & Disney reboots.

Head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/8674205

No resurrection for Jesus Christ Superstar after council ‘admin error’, but what next for unstoppable Bev Jones Music Company?

Bev Jones Music Company cast members gather at Rowntree Park last September

THE York version of The Masked Singer is coming to a head.

Bev Jones Music Company’s open-air production should have opened at Rowntree Park amphitheatre this afternoon but instead Jesus Christ Superstar has turned into Jesus Christ Supersnag – all because of masks.

In a nutshell, producer Lesley Jones was given an edict 12 days ago by City of York Council that Claire Pulpher’s cast of 27 must wear masks when singing to meet Covid regulations, not least Claire herself in the role of Mary.

Oh, and the not-for-profit York company would need to pay for professional security staff too for safety purposes, to stop anyone who had not booked from congregating on the periphery. Oh, and could the company provide portable lavatories too, please?

All this came via an email to Lesley from a Public Health Specialist Practitioner Advanced. “Whilst I have every sympathy with anyone trying to deliver an event, we can only give them the advice we have and cannot offer anything other than what the government guidance allows at the time of review,” the council apparatchik wrote.

“It is also worth noting that as this is a musical and involves singing, there is specific reference in the performing arts guidance to singing and the additional risks this poses in relation to Covid transmission. This is not currently considered in the Covid plan supplied by the organiser.”

The official cited an extract from the guidance “requiring the event organiser to pro-actively discourage activities which can create aerosol such as shouting, chanting and singing…as this is a popular musical can we be assured this will be realistic or achievable? Also wearing face coverings reduces the mass of aerosol expelled when singing, so masks should be worn during the event. Probably not possible?”

Probably not possible? Impossible, decided Lesley, as the additional costs would be prohibitive, and so, down the drain went many hours of rehearsals and hundreds of ticket sales for today’s 3pm show and tomorrow’s 2pm and 5pm performances that would need to be reimbursed (a task now being handled by the Joseph Rowntree Theatre box office).

And yet everything had been possible when Bev Jones Music Company staged the socially distanced Strictly Live In The Park on September 13 last year, same location, but no requirement to mask up the singers. Just as York Stage had been able to perform shows at the amphitheatre from August 23 to 25 (York Stage Musicals revue) and September 18 to 20 (Jukebox Divas).

When Lesley made the booking in February for the return to Rowntree Park, she planned the event in line with the council’s event management plans, requiring a Covid risk assessment and a health and safety assessment, plus contingency plans in the event of a terrorist attack or flooding.

Put in place were Covid testing for the cast; thermometer testing for cast, crew and public at each performance; ticket-only admission; the audience placed in socially distanced bubbles. The new normal, in other words.

The council’s later demands over masks and security came after its discussions with Public Health England and the Safety Advisory Group, but what was the difference this time?

City of York Council, in effect, made an admin error, as explained to Lesley Jones by Sarah Stoltz, the council’s director of public health, in an email on June 6. “One of my staff was asked by Trading Standards on 26th May 2021 to provide public health feedback to the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) on the proposals for your event,” she wrote. 

“I must stress, here, that the feedback in the email was only intended to be shared with SAG members for them to consider this, along with all the other expert advice from members of SAG, e.g. North Yorkshire Police, so that SAG could make a decision on whether the event should go ahead and what mitigations might need to be in place.

“We are in stage 3 of the government roadmap out of lockdown and so it is entirely appropriate that SAG undertook due diligence on the safety of the event, as happens with all events across York.”

Here comes the crucial part: “But the email was never intended to be shared with you and it did not constitute public health advice to you personally as the organiser; it was feedback to SAG and members would have considered the appropriateness of this feedback in due course,” said the director.

“However, it was shared and unfortunately taken out of context. I understand how angry and frustrated you must have felt in receiving it and can only apologise for the distress this has caused you.”

The explanation came too late to resurrect Jesus Christ Superstar, alas. “We were given such restrictive regulations by City of York Council, we had no option but to pull the production,” says Lesley, who is launching a formal complaint.

Is there any good news for Bev Jones Music Company devotees, however? “I must tell you that an ‘angel’ has appeared in the form of Jamboree Entertainment, who have offered us their professional [Sounds In The Grounds] festival stage on June 24 as compensation, if we could put together a music event suitable for the venue,” says Lesley.

“Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, we’ve taken on the challenge, resulting in the aptly named Strictly Unstoppable, featuring every member of the JCS cast in a new-style production for The Bev Jones Music Company with the emphasis on ‘an evening of fun with massive pop tracks to suit all, plus a beer wagon to help the atmosphere’.

“For those who love festivals, this will be popular, with numbers such as Boogie Shoes, Forget You, Uptown Funk, Sweet Caroline, a Whitney Houston song, Somebody To Love, Barcelona, to name a few, plus a smattering of show tunes from Chicago and The Rocky Horror Show and dozens more. We want the audience to get up in their social bubbles and dance.”

Arts and Crufts come together in Poppy Hollman’s Mikron debut A Dog’s Tale

Do NOT be deceived by this picture of Polly Hollman and her canine compadre. Read on…

DON’T tell anyone, but A Dog’s Tale playwright Poppy Hollman prefers cats. Director Rachel Gee, by comparison, is a dog owner.

This evening, Mikron Theatre Company’s touring premiere pitches up at Scarcroft Allotments, Scarcroft Road, York, for a sold-out 6pm performance.

“Well, I’ve tried to keep it hush-hush…but yes, I’m a cat lover and I do have two cats,” admits Poppy. “But we had lovely comments at last Saturday’s opening show at The Holbeck in Leeds, and the loveliest was, ‘Do you know, I’d never have guessed you didn’t have a dog’!”

In their 49th year of touring by canal, river and road, Marsden company Mikron are celebrating (wo)man’s best friend in a musical comedy caper, commissioned from Poppy to “look at canines past and present and the enduring bond between people and their dogs”.

“I genuinely did have to research about dogs, looking to work out why dogs means so much to people,” says Poppy, of her first professional commission. “Over the past year, in the pandemic lockdowns, we’ve really seen that with sales of dogs going through the roof.”

Poppy’s research took her to Crufts, the self-anointed world’s greatest dog show. “You realise the broad appreciation the British have for their dogs, as you see just how much they love them,” she says.

MIkron Theatre Company gathering for rehearsals at Marsden Mechanics

“We close the play with the song I wrote, Be More Dog, about going for a walk and seeing the world through their eyes: their loyalty, their love, the simplicity of everything.”

As one verse goes: “So be more dog/With loyalty and courage we should/Be more dog. Be as they would be to you/Look outside your own head. Take the lead and don’t be led/’Cause doggedness is good for you.”

“Through writing this play, I’ve now got a real understanding of what dogs mean to people,” says Poppy. “I love cats, but we do have a Dogs v. Cats rap battle in the show, where I’m a bit mean about cats because of their aloofness. Dogs will do anything to please their owners, whereas cats will just walk away with their tails in the air.”

What are the characteristics of her two cats? “They’re two ginger toms, Ziggy and Sparky; one is very fluffy, the other is very smooth; one is very greedy; the other is very fussy, so the greedy one eats the other one’s food,” says Poppy.

Exit cats stage left, tales left in the air. We need to talk instead about A Dog’s Tale, wherein Linda and her wayward rescue dog Gary are pursued by security through the halls and history of Crufts, accused of a terrible crime.

In highly competitive world of heroic hounds, pampered pedigrees and naughty nobblers, does Gary have what it takes to win the day?

Lead actors: Mikron Theatre Company cast members James McLean, Rachel Benson, Elizabeth Robin and Thomas Coran going for walkies with a parade of pooches. Picture: Liz Baker

“I spent two fascinating days at Crufts [at the Birmingham NEC in March] last year, eavesdropping on competitors, chatting to people and trying to work out which dog would win in each competition (success rate: zero),” says Poppy.

“People were very friendly and frank in sharing their suspicions about judging bias. ‘Well, you know, that dog will win because it’s Scottish and so is the judge!’ (It did win).

“My impression of Crufts was that while dog participation was on an exclusive basis, a huge variety of humankind was in evidence, on two legs or four wheels.”

This was testament perhaps to the huge importance of dogs to many different people in their roles as pets, medical assistance dogs, working dogs and more, says Poppy. “It’s also true to the founding principles of Charles Cruft, who charged only a penny so that everyone could enter their best friend.”

A cast of actor-musicians, Rachel Benson, Thomas Cotran, James McLean and Elizabeth Robin, will tell Hollman’s stories. “I’ve vwritten over 20 characters to be played by only four actors, but I know they’ll enjoy the challenge of bringing it to life!” says Poppy, who was picked to write the play after participating in Mikron’s 2018 Writers Scheme.

“It’s my first professional commission. It’s been a delight to work for Mikron, a company whose creativity and ethos I love.

Cat, a tonic? Yes, indeed, as the moggies steal a scene from the doggies in A Dog’s Tale. In the feline line-up: Thomas Cotran, Elizabeth Robin and Rachel Benson. Picture: Liz Baker

“From the application process, they selected ten writers to go to Marsden to find out about Mikron, to understand how they work, how they have such a unique playing style.

“They asked us each to write a scene and a song for a show about Crufts, and on the basis of what I wrote, they chose me for the commission.”

How did she feel? “Initially, it was scary, because I knew nothing about Crufts, but actually once I added to that scene, I really got into it, with anything in its extremes tending to comedy.”

Poppy’s research also took her to the Kennel Club archives, Europe’s largest dog library, near Green Park, London. “It was a very nice library to work in on and off for a few weeks, and we do a bit about the Kennel Club in the show because they were the rivals to Charles Cruft, though I hope they don’t think we’ve been mean or unkind!” she says.

From her research, A Dog’s Tale had to emerge in the Mikron style. “Their brief was pretty loose: ‘we like to have a laugh, we like people to learn something, and if we have a cry as well, that’s great’,” summarises Poppy. “Mine is more of a comedy as I found so much joy in the dog world.

“The key Mikron house style is to have no lights, no recorded music, and every show is outdoors this year, because of Covid, and that means that the story really has to motor on to keep the audience’s attention when they’re outdoors.”

Mikron Theatre Company’s poster for the 2021 tour of A Dog’s Tale

Poppy believes she fits the Mikron modus operandi like a glove. “Exploring British life in an irreverent way is manna to the way I write, but I had to re-write what I understand about writing drama,” she says.

In practical terms, she found it impossible to write the script without allocating the parts first, given the need to accommodate 20-plus characters. “I had to think, ‘who’s just come off?’, ‘who can come on now?’, ‘who can do a quick scene here?’.

“So, the main parts take fewer of the side characters, with the other two ending up doing endless changes! James McLean is one of those two: look out for his Sandra Woofhouse, based on the character we love from TV!”

A Dog’s Tale should have wagged last year, but lockdown put paid to Mikron’s travel plans. A year later, “we’ve left the script pretty much as it was,” says Poppy.

“I handed it in February last year when they were about to go into rehearsal, and in a way, I wouldn’t know what to have done to update it, though we’ve seen things like dog prices sky-rocketing over the past year.

“As a writer, I just know they’re going to be creative with what you write for them,” says Poppy Hollman of A Dog’s Tale cast members Elizabeth Robin, left, Thomas Cotran, James McLean and Rachel Benson. Picture: Liz Baker

“We did think about Covid, but actually it’s a light show, and rather than saying what a terrible year we’ve had, it’s time for escapism!”

Before becoming a playwright in rural Bedfordshire, Poppy had a very different career as head of touring exhibitions at the V&A Museum, London, from 2006 to 2013.

“The change wasn’t accidental. I had children and we left London for more space and a more rural life. The practicalities of commuting to London to do a pretty serious and demanding job became more difficult. “I just needed to get out of London. I’d loved the job, but it was necessary to move on.”

Poppy set her heart on creating plays for community audiences. “I decided, with zero experience, that I would write a play about my home village of Turvey – Bells Of Turvey – focusing on a real family from the mid-19th century,” she recalls of her 2017 debut.

“We had a community cast of 40 and a big stage down the middle of Turvey Village Hall, inspired by things like the Mystery Plays and Lark Rise To Candleford.”

Not content with writing a show on such a scale, she also directed the community production. “But I’m not really a director at heart,” she says. “It’s healthy, I think, to have a director to bring something new and magical to the play, and in turn you should stick to your own strengths.”

Out on a lead: Rachel Benson in A Dog’s Tale. Picture: Liz Baker

She loves productions where you can feel the connection between the company and their audiences. “That happens even more with shows on Mikron’s scale. I just love the immediacy of the performances and the incredible talents of the actors, how they perform and play music too,” says Poppy. “As a writer, I just know they’re going to be creative with what you write for them.”

Looking ahead, “I’d love to write another play for Mikron, and I’m now working on a piece about the unrest of the late-15th and 16th century Enclosures, and our relationship with that world now.

“I’m also thinking of writing a play about bird-watching, which would definitely be a comedy. It’s been hard to write over the past year, though I’ve worked on some radio pieces off my own back, but it’s a situation that most writers face after doing their first commission.”

A Dog’s Tale is up and running, as cat-loving playwright Poppy Hollman and dog-owning Mikron director Rachel Gee’s shared vision comes to life.

Have they fought like cats and dogs? “We didn’t really discuss Rachel’s dog,” says Poppy. “We certainly didn’t bring up our differing preferences!”

Aboard narrowboat Tyseley and on land, Mikron Theatre Company are touring Poppy Hollman’s A Dog’s Tale nationally in tandem with Amanda Whittington’s new women’s football play, Atalanta Forever, until September 19. For full tour details and tickets, go to: mikronorg.uk

REVIEW: John Godber Company in Moby Dick, Stage @TheDock, Hull, until Saturday

 Caitlin Townend and Martha Godber in rehearsal for Moby Dick at the former Hull dry dock. Picture: Antony Robling

Moby Dick, John Godber Company, Stage @TheDock, Hull, until Saturday, 7pm and 4pm Saturday matinee. Box office: Eventbrite via thejohngodbercompany.co.uk

HULL was once among the world’s busiest whaling ports. At its peak, 68 whaling ships were registered to the East Riding dock and whale-processing oil and blubber factories spread over the Greenland yards on the River Hull.

In the wake of the Industrial Revolution, Hull had as many theatres as any city, and sometimes the stench from the factories’ pots of boiling blubber was so malodorous, theatres had to cancel performances as the pong was so overpowering.

The processing plants and ships have gone, the docks and Fruit Market have undergone a new industrial revolution, now housing solicitors’ offices, digital spaces, bars and restaurants and a gallery, under a vision realised by the Wykeland Group, triggered in part by Hull’s year as UK City of Culture in 2017.

In the shadow of The Deep visitor attraction, Stage@TheDock took over the shell of the central Hull dry dock at that time, and now John Godber, who has done so much to keep theatre open, alive and kicking in Hull, brings whaling, theatre and the amphitheatre together with support from Wykeland and an Arts Council England grant from the Culture Recovery Fund.

John Godber and The Whalers: The co-writer and director in rehearsal at Hull dry dock for Moby Dick. Picture: Antony Robling

The John Godber Company’s Moby Dick is billed as a “new radical adaptation” of Herman Melville’s epic 1851 American novel. More precisely, it is a radical reworking of Godber and co-writer Nick Lane’s original, no less radical script for Hull Truck Theatre in 2002, a revision/reinvention that Godber describes as “filleted, better and topical”.

The first version was told by four old soaks in a bar on its own last orders; this time, an East Yorkshire professional cast plays eight modern-day characters, each with a relationship with this part of Hull through their parents or grandparents, whose stories they recount as the play dips in and out of the novel’s Godber-gutted story, like a ship’s passage through waves.

2002’s four-hander – “What were we thinking?! Four! It was almost impossible,” recalls Godber – was different in other ways: staged indoors at the old, compact, 150-seat Hull Truck. 2021’s John Godber and The Whalers’ show fits Step 3 times: a 70-minute performance with no interval, staged outdoors to a socially distanced audience, spread out over seating reduced in capacity from 350 to just shy of 90.

Covid-safety measures prevail too: staff in masks, tick; hand sanitiser, tick; surface cleaning, tick; cast Covid-testing regularly and staying together in a B&B social bubble, tick.

MayTether’s Lily in the John Godber Company’s Moby Dick. Picture: Antony Robling

Within the cavernous dock’s stone walling is the wooden-floored stage that here becomes the deck of Captain Ahab’s ship, the Pequod, in his catastrophic, deranged, self-destructive battle with the monstrous white whale, Moby Dick.

Props are wooden too in the form of myriad pallets for constant rearrangement into different shapes to evoke, for example, the bow and to create a percussive sound when thrown down or knocked over. A rudimentary ship’s wheel is ever present and loose pieces of wood serve as harpoons. The bike ridden by Martha Godber’s impassioned narrator, Lucy, is the one concession to modernity.

Given the 7pm start, no lighting or special effect is needed for a back-to-basics yet epic production that, in Godber tradition, is driven by storytelling, physical theatre and teamwork (or should that be crew work?) as much as by individual performance.

This remains a dry dock in every way, no water to be seen throughout, and yet this Moby Dick still conjures the dangers, the rhythms, the vastness, of the sea through the cast’s movement and sound effects.

Blue-eyed soul searching: Frazer Hammill as Frank/Captain Ahab in Moby Dick. Picture: Antony Robling

Sea shanties pepper the performance too, not least the newly ubiquitous chart-topper Wellerman, and it will come as no surprise to devotees of York Stage that Goole-born May Tether’s singing stands out.

Frazer Hammill’s Captain Ahab has the air of the blue-eyed cult-leader about him, a law unto himself that no-one dares to stop. Madness, misadventure and death this way lies in a tale as grave as an obsessive Greek tragedy.

Moby Dick finds Godber, who scripted the revised version after discussions with Lane, far removed from the agitated humour of many of his plays.

Instead, in a collective year in the shadow of an elusive enemy, devastating disease, mental anguish, constant uncertainty and ever greater division, there is no bigger fish to fry than a story of timeless human failings in command, set against the context of a modern-day discourse on Hull’s global importance as a port, its whaling past and the rising need for conservation.

Come Hull or high water, you will have a wail, rather than a whale, of a time as the Godber harpoon hits home hard.

The John Godber Company cast on stage at Stage @The Dock, the converted Hull dry dock, with The Deep behind. Picture: Antony Robling

More Things To Do in York and beyond that Euro football tournament. It’s all kicking off in List No. 36, courtesy of The Press, York

What’s the pecking order here? Twirlywoos Live! at York Theatre Royal

EUROS 2020? What Euro 2020? The sun is out and so is Charles Hutchinson’s diary as he points you in the direction of curious CBeebies favourites, acoustic concerts, a dockyard Romeo & Juliet, a large painting, Clough v Leeds United and more ideas aplenty. 

Children’s show of the week: Twirlywoos Live!, York Theatre Royal, tomorrow at 1.30pm and 4pm; Saturday, Sunday, 10am and 2pm

TOODLOO, Great BigHoo, Chick and Peekaboo set sail for York on board their Big Red Boat for their Theatre Royal theatrical adventure Twirlywoos Live!.

Curious, inquisitive and eager to learn about the world, these small, bird-like characters from the CBeebies television factory will be brought to life with inventive puppetry, mischief, music and plenty of surprises.

Written by Zoe Bourn, the 55-minute show is recommended for ages 1+; babes in arms are welcome too. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Joshua Burnell: York prog-folk musician will perform in a Songs Under Skies double bill on June 14. Picture: Elly Lucas

Outdoor gigs of the week ahead: Songs Under Skies 2, National Centre for Early Music churchyard, York June 14 to 16

SONGS Under Skies returns to the NCEM’s glorious gardens at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, for acoustic double bills by Katie Spencer and Joshua Burnell on June 14, Zak Ford and Alice Simmons, June 15, and Epilogues and Sunflower Thieves, June 16.

As with last September’s debut series, season two of the open-air, Covid-safe concerts is presented by the NCEM in tandem with The Crescent community venue, the Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance.

Gates open at 6.30pm for each 7pm to 8.30pm concert with a 30-minute interval between sets. Tickets must be bought in advance, either in “pods” for family groups or as individuals at tickets.ncem.co.uk.

Art at large: Subterranea Nostalgia, by Corrina Rothwell

Biggest painting of the week award: Corrina Rothwell’s Subterranea Nostalgia, in The Cacophany Of Ages at Pyramid Gallery, York, until July 1

CORRINA Rothwell’s exhibition of abstract works features the largest canvas painting in the near-30 years that Terry Brett has run Pyramid Gallery in York.

“Subterranea Nostalgia measures 1600mm by 1600mm. That was fun, getting it upstairs!” says Terry, whose gallery is housed in a National Trust-owned 15th century building in Stonegate. “The painting has a real impact. If you know anyone with really big walls, it would be perfect for them!”

Nottingham artist Corrina favours mixed media and acrylic on canvas for the paintings, on show at Pyramid and online at pyramidgallery.com.

Not having a ball: Luke Dickson’s Brian Clough goes to hell and back in his 44 days in charge of Leeds United in Red Ladder Theatre Company’s The Damned United

Football, football, football, not on the box but in a theatre: Red Ladder Theatre Company in The Damned United, York Theatre Royal, June 16

THE choice is yours: Italy versus Switzerland at the Euro 2020 on ITV at 8pm or the inner workings of Brian Clough’s troubled mind at Elland Road in 1974 at York Theatre Royal, kick-off 7.30pm.

Adapted from Yorkshireman David Peace’s biographical novel by Anders Lustgarten, The Damned United is a psychodrama that deconstructs Old Big ‘Ead’s 44 days as manager of Leeds United, whose Don Revie-tutored players he despised as much as they loathed him.

The double act of Luke Dickson’s flawed Clough and David Chafer’s avuncular Peter Taylor are joined by Jamie Smelt as everyone else in a story of sweat and booze, fury and power struggles, demons and defeats.

That’s a good idea…

Festival of the month: York Festival of Ideas 2021, running until June 20

THIS year marks the tenth anniversary of York’s bright idea of a festival dedicated to educating, entertaining and inspiring.

Under the banner of Infinite Horizons to reflect the need to adapt to pandemic, the Festival of Ideas is presenting a diverse programme of more than 150 free online and in-person events.

The best idea, when needing more info on the world-class speakers, performances, family activities and walking trails, is to head to yorkfestivalofideas.com/2021/.

You kiss by the dock: Husband and wife Jordan Metcalfe and Laura Elsworthy as Romeo and Juliet in Hull Truck Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet at Hull’s former dry dock

Outdoor play outside York announcement of the month: Hull Truck Theatre in Romeo & Juliet, Stage@The Dock, Hull, July 15 to August 7

AFTER John Godber Company’s Moby Dick completes its run at the converted Hull dry dockyard this Saturday, next comes Hull Truck Theatre’s al-fresco staging of Shakespeare’s tragic love story.

The title roles in Romeo & Juliet will be played by Hull-born husband and wife Jordan Metcalfe and Laura Elsworthy, who appeared in The Hypocrite and The Last Testament Of Lillian Bilocca in 2017 as part of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture celebrations.

Metcalfe and Elsworthy, who married in the summer of 2018 after bonding when working on The Hypocrite, will play a stage couple for the first time, performing on a traverse stage to emphasise Verona’s divided society. Box office: hulltruck.co.uk.

Hitting the Heights: Lucy McCormick’s wild-haired Cathy in the Wise Children poster for Emma Rice’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights, bound for York Theatre Royal

Looking ahead to the autumn: Wise Children in Emma Rice’s Wuthering Heights, York Theatre Royal, November 8 to 20

EMMA Rice’s Wise Children company is teaming up with the National Theatre, York Theatre Royal and the Bristol Old Vic for her elemental stage adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Yorkshire moorland story of love, vengeance and redemption.

In an intoxicating revenge tragedy for our time shot through with music, dance, passion and hope, Rice’s company of performers and musicians will be led by Lucy McCormick’s Cathy.

“Emboldened and humbled by the enforced break, I feel truly lucky,” says Rice. “I cannot wait to get back to doing what I love most and to share this thrilling and important piece with the world. It’s time.”

An Evening With Julian Norton, vet, author and now show host, is booked in for Pocklington Arts Centre

Veterinary appointment in 2022: An Evening With Julian Norton, Pocklington Arts Centre, January 18

JULIAN Norton, author, veterinary surgeon and star of Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet, will share amusing anecdotes from his work with animals in North Yorkshire, bringing to life all the drama and humour in the daily routine of a rural vet.

Following in the footsteps of James Herriot author Alf Wight, Norton has spent most of his working life in Thirsk. His latest book, All Creatures: Heart-warming Tales From A Yorkshire Vet, was published in March. Box office: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.