CLASSIC Ayckbourn, club classics, a homecoming songwriter, a Dracula discovery and choirs galore make Charles Hutchinson’s list of recommendations, any way the wind blows.
Play of the week: York Settlement Community Players in Alan Ayckbourn’s Woman In Mind, York Theatre Royal Studio, tonight (19/2/2022) until February 26, 7.45pm and 2.45pm last-day matinee
HOUSEWIFE Susan’s growing disillusionment with everyday life in her humdrum marriage is brought to a head when she steps on a garden rake and is knocked unconscious.
Such is the impact of her minor concussion, suddenly she finds herself surrounded by the ideal fantasy family, handsomely dressed in tennis whites as they sip champagne.
When her real and imaginary worlds collide, however, those fantasies take on a nightmarish life of their own as Alan Ayckbourn applies both humour and pathos to his 1985 portrait of a woman on the verge. Victoria Delaney, on stage throughout as Susan, leads Angie Millard’s cast. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
So much at stake: James Gaddas in Dracula – One Man’s Search For The Truth, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 7.30pm
WHEN actor James Gaddas comes across Bram Stoker’s original handwritten copy of Dracula while working on a satellite channel television show, he finds it contains pages never published, leading him to a terrifying discovery.
What if everything we thought we knew was only the beginning? What if it is not so much a story as a warning? What if the legend is real?
Gaddas brings the original version to life before sharing his discovery on a night of one actor, 15 characters and one monumental decision: are some things better left buried? Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.
Yorkshire gig of the week: Babybird, Ugly Beautiful 25th Anniversary, Leeds Brudenell Social Club, February 23, doors, 7.30pm
MARKING the silver anniversary of his smart, piercing pop album Ugly Beautiful and its misunderstood ubiquitous single You’re Beautiful – pay attention to its dark criticism of men’s behaviour beyond the shiny chorus – Babybird is taking to the road for four shows built around that pioneering record. The one he said had “songs to annoy, enjoy and employ God with”.
Up front as ever will be Stephen Jones, 59, the songwriter, singer, musician and novelist who first emerged as a purveyor of low-fi recordings made in his Sheffield bedroom over six years for release in 1995-96. Box office: seetickets.com/event/babybird/Brudenell
Homecoming of the week: Benjamin Francis Leftwich, The Citadel, Gillygate, York, February 25, 7.30pm
NOW living in Tottenham, North London, singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich heads back home to play The Citadel, his second church gig in York after his sold-out Minster concert in 2019.
Last June he released his fourth album, To Carry A Whale, and he has been song-writing as prolifically as ever since then, so maybe a new number will be aired. Support comes from Elanor Moss and Wounded Bear. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Club night of the week: Soul II Soul, Club Classics, York Barbican, February 25, 7.30pm
SOUL II Soul’s postponed York gig comes back to life on Friday, with tickets still valid from the original October 2020 date.
Jazzie B’s London soul, R&B and rap collective will be reviving the vibe of their 1989 number one Back To Life, top five hit Keep On Movin and their debut album Club Classics Vol. One. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
On song at large: York Community Choir Festival 2022, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 27 to March 5
EIGHT shows, with a different line-up every time, go into York’s celebration of community choral music.
Taking part will be three primary school choirs (Osbaldwick, Robert Wilkinson and Headlands), Huntington Secondary School gents and ladies’ choirs and 30 adult choirs.
Despite there being close to 200 song choices, in only one concert will the same song be sung by two choirs, in very different styles. Each concert ends with everyone singing I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Under starter’s orders: York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend, Madness, July 22, evening; Sugababes, July 23, late-afternoon
CAMDEN’S Nutty Boys, Madness, are on course for the Music Showcase Weekend for the second time this summer, having first played the Knavesmire track in July 2010.
Once more, Suggs and co will roll out such ska-flavoured music-hall hits as Our House, One Step Beyond, Baggy Trousers, It Must Be Love, House Of Fun and Michael Caine.
The original Sugababes line-up of Keisha Buchanan, Mutya Buena and Siobhán Donaghy will perform chart toppers as Freak Like Me, Round Round, Hole In The Head and Push The Button and plenty more. The London girl group last played York in a Barbican Centre show in 2003. For race-day tickets, go to: yorkracecourse.co.uk
Bar-room bawl: Al Murray, The Pub Landlord, Gig For Victory, Grand Opera House, York, September 1, 7.30pm
THE Guvnor, Al Murray, sets off on his 86-date tour on February 24 and will still be having a word on November 13. York will play host to the first show after a summer re-charge for the Pub Landlord, whose Gig for Victory agenda promises answers to questions that the “men and women of this great country never knew existed”.
“Who better to show the way than the people’s man of the people, steeped in the deep and ancient bar-room wisdom of countless slock-ins,” says Murray, ever ready to offer a full pint of the good stuff to a nation thirsty for common sense. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.