More Things To Do in and around York as Shakespeare with afternoon tea awaits. List No.44, courtesy of The Press, York

The Magpies – in suitably black and white attire – host their music and arts festival at Sutton Park this weekend

MAGPIES and mermaids, Shakespeare’s wife and Scarborough romances, Boy George and a Bon Jovi tribute, Aretha & Patti and singer-songwriters at the quadruple are Charles Hutchinson’s tips for what to see.

Festival of the weekend: The Magpies Festival of Music & Arts, Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, Saturday, music on bar stage from 1.30pm; main stage, from 2.30pm

SAM Kelly & The Lost Boys headline The Magpies Festival in the grounds of Sutton Park, hosted by The Magpies’ trio of Bella Gaffney, Kate Griffin and Holly Brandon in support of Women’s Aid.

Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys can be found headlining The Magpies Festival on Saturday

Confirmed for this weekend’s folk-flavoured line-up too are: Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra; Blair Dunlop; fast-rising Katherine Priddy; The Magpies themselves; 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

Bon Jovi tribute act New Jovi, who play the Joseph Rowntree Theatre this weekend

Tribute gig of the weekend: New Jovi: Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Saturday, 7.30pm

LIVIN’ off Livin’ On A Prayer, tribute act New Jovi seek to “bring back the on-stage chemistry and formidable stage presence of Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora in what was arguably the New Jersey band’s greatest era”. Arguably? Definitely.

Presented by Pit Bull Productions, Saturday night’s “completely live” set accommodates Always, You Give Love A Bad Name, Runaway, Bad Medicine and many more besides. Box office:

Mad about the Boy? If so, join Culture Club on the coast at Scarborough on Saturday

Gig of the week outside York: Boy George & Culture Club, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Saturday, doors open at 6pm

EIGHTIES’ icon/iconoclast Boy George and Culture Club are off to the Yorkshire seaside this weekend.

Bexleyheath-born frontman, fashion innovator and DJ George O’Dowd, who turned 60 on June 14, will be performing alongside original band members Roy Hay and Mikey Craig in a “stunning live band”.

Expect to hear such New Romantic favourites as Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, fellow chart topper Karma Chameleon, Time (Clock Of The Heart) and Church Of The Poison Mind. Box office:

Josie Campbell in rehearsal for playing Anne Hathaway in Little Britches Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s Will. Picture: Michael J Oakes

Where there’s a Will: Little Britches Theatre Company in Shakespeare’s Will, outside at Hearts of Ampleforth, Ampleforth, near Helmsley, Sunday, 2.30pm

NORTH Yorkshire duo Josie Campbell and Imogen Hope perform Vern Thiessen’s two-hander Shakespeare’s Will on Sunday, with afternoon tea thrown into the £15 ticket price for good measure.

In this one-hour, pop-up outdoor show about Anne Hathaway’s imagined life with, but mostly without, playwright William Shakespeare, teacher, theatre-maker, performer and erstwhile voiceover artist Josie plays Anne.

Theatre-maker, actor, musician and performing arts teacher Imogen takes the role of Actor-Musician. Tickets: from the café or on 01439 788166; cash only.

The Northern Edge Theatre Company cast and crew for Sam Milnes’s comedy drama Scarbados

Holiday romance of the weekend: Scarbados, Northern Edge Theatre Company, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 3pm and 8pm

WELCOME to writer-director Sam Milnes’s new one-act comedy drama about love, life, grief, hope and fish & chips.

Tragic and comic in equal measure, Scarbados tracks six locals and holidaymakers who all go to the same seaside bar, where their lives intertwine in ways no-one expects.

Will Sharon have the chance of motherhood she so desperately craves? Will Jen and Alex have their romantic weekend? Can Ian overcome his long-time challenges? Will Vicky find her man? Who is the sixth character? Box office:

Gemma Sharp: Sea Storm In A Teacup’s writer, producer and performer

Children’s show of the week: Hoglets Theatre in Sea Storm In A Teacup, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Sunday, 3pm

A MERMAID is an amazing gift for a young adventurer, but what do you do when it just will not stop growing? So asks York company Hoglets Theatre in Sea Storm In A Teacup, a new one-hour play written, produced and performed by Gemma Sharp for ages three to seven.

Joining Sharp’s Merry on stage will be Gemma’s husband, Andy Curry, the show’s composer, lyricist and musician in the role of the Sea King, and Thalassa, a puppet made by Sharp.

Sharp’s story of a chance meeting, an act of kindness and an unusual present, leading a lonely young girl on the most unexpected journey to find friendship, promises an epic adventure of mystery, magic, and mermaids. Box office:

Patti Boulaye: Heading to Helmsley with her Aretha Franklin show

Two into one will go: Patti Boulaye, Aretha & Me, Helmsley Arts Centre, September 18, 8pm

SINGER, musical theatre star, New Faces winner and teacher Dr Patti Boualye OBE is resuming her Aretha & Me tour travels, as well as her visiting teaching fellow role at Middlesex University.

In her one-woman but two-women show, British-Nigerian Patti, 67, compares and contrasts her life with that of the late American queen of soul.

Patti, whose updated autobiography The Faith Of A Child is published by Kaleidoscope Publishing this week, will combine Aretha’s Respect, I Say A Little Prayer, Natural Woman, Chain Of Fools and Think with her favourite songs. Box office:

Dan Webster, left, Joshua Burnell and Edwina Hayes: Taking part in Pocklington Arts Centre’s singer-songwriter showcase next month

Four play: Dan Webster, Edwina Hayes, Joshua Burnell and Jess Gardham: Singer-Songwriter Showcase, Pocklington Arts Centre, September 23, 8pm

DAN Webster, Joshua Burnell and Jess Gardham, from York, are joined by Edwina Hayes, from the East Riding, for this all-Yorkshire bill.

Webster plays folk/Americana peppered with more than a dash of country, bluegrass and rock’n’roll; Burnell’s gigs take in stomping, acoustic singalongs, Bowie-style music-hall epics, alt.pop singles and traditional folk themes.

Gardham fuses pop, soul, blues and acoustic in her song-writing and has a belter of a voice equally at home in musical theatre; Irish-born Hayes crafts gentle folk-Americana songs. Box office: or on 01759 301547.

All roads lead to Pocklington Arts Centre for York singer-songwriter Jess Gardham on September 23

REVIEW: Finding solution to “problem play” Miss Julie at York Theatre Royal…or not?

Leo Wan as ambitious John and Sophie Robinson as restless Julie in Amy Ng’s re-setting of Strindberg’s Miss Julie in British colonial post-war Hong Kong for New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse

Miss Julie, New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse, Chester, York Theatre Royal, The Love Season, 8pm tonight; 3pm, 8pm, tomorrow, then on tour. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

NEW Earth Theatre director Dadiow Lin is “not a fan of the original version” of Miss Julie, Swedish playwright August Strindberg’s once-banned, naturalistic tragedy of gender and class warfare.

Damned for misogynism, it remains a “problem play”, and yet fresh adaptations of this revolutionary work, full of psychological manipulation, lust and lies, keep emerging, no problem.

In 1995, Patrick Marber’s After Miss Julie re-located its psycho-sexual pas de deux to an English country house in July 1945, on the night of the Labour Party’s post-war landslide General Election triumph. In 2012, in South African director and playwright Jael Farber’s Afrikaans’ version, Mies Julie, it became an apartheid story in a remote, bleak farm in modern-day South Africa’s Karoo semi-desert.

A year later, for York company Hedgepig Theatre, Gemma Sharp moved the turbulent triangle of lust, power and betrayal from Midsummer Night’s perma-light Scandinavia to the bright lights, decadence and debauchery of the Jazz Age England.

Andy Curry’s John and Gemma Sharp’s Julie in York company Hedgepig Theatre’s 1920s’ Jazz Age version of Miss Julie in January 2013

The 1920s, Sharp reasoned, were a time when sex before marriage was still frowned on, the class structure was rigid, and there was inequality for women, a status being challenged by the rise of the Suffragettes, the quest for female empowerment and the wearing-away of high society’s certainties.

Now, the ever-restless Miss Julie is on the move again, to the Orient, to post-war 1940s’ Hong Kong, back in British colonial hands after the surrender to the Japanese in wartime.

In British-Hong Kong playwright Amy Ng’s poetic, potent hands, it becomes politically as well as sexually charged, the chemical compound newly in danger of exploding with the extra measure of racial tension.

What had changed since the British 1920s for women and servants? Not much. The class structure was still rigid; inequality was still prevalent; high society was still high and mighty, titled and ever entitled; women and servants alike were expected to know their place.

Playwright Amy Ng

This applied as much to the British abroad, maybe even more so, and yet even though Hong Kong had been handed back to the Brits for reasons of “racial superiority”, the tentacles of Chinese Communism were reaching out in the shadows.

The British Governor General’s chauffeur, John (Leo Wan), now sees the British in a new light, weakened in their control, and he despises them for it.

Ng has retained the essence of the Strindberg storyline and three-hander structure, changing its setting, bolstering its topicality for the new Hong Kong, in its 21st century Chinese straitjacket, turning up the slow-burning heat in the cauldron of the servants’ hall amid the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Into the quietude of the party preparations of cook Christine (Jennifer Leong) and her preening fiancé John gate-crashes the Governor’s unguarded yet repressed daughter, Julie (Sophie Robinson), nursing a damaged ankle (or so she says), having hit her party straps outside already, with the Governor elsewhere.

Sophie Robinson’s Julie: “Spoilt, immature, blinkered, grand but needy, solipsistic, false, annoying, capricious, complaining. The question is why?”

She brings in her caged canary (ah, symbolism, evoking Ibsen and Chekhov’s trapped lives); then notes the dead flowers in the decorations (ah, more symbolism) and proceeds to flirt, dance and plot brazenly with John, as a sexual game of chess is played under Christine’s scowling gaze from behind the bamboo canes of a kitchen lit with Chinese lanterns.

It takes three acts in 1879’s A Doll’s House for all hope of escape to be expunged; Strindberg’s candle burns out in one act, gone in 75 minutes. All that symbolism peaks with a Lion Dance, to signify their sexual fires, a conflagration that can lead only one way when the tide turns, as hierarchal contempt, rather than misogyny, plays its hand in the shift of power and female empowerment withers on a bitter vine.

In our era of Brexit and the open dislike of the UK (not only in that pointless Eurovision vote), Robinson’s Julie is the not-so-bright young Brit thing writ large in an earlier age but still familiar: spoilt, immature, blinkered, grand but needy, solipsistic, false, annoying, capricious, complaining. The question is why?

She is born to privilege, gifted with opportunities, but lacking judgement and parental guidance, she has no sense of purpose or direction; her world is precarious, doomed. Maybe that is the difference between entitlement and empowerment; here she lacks the tools within for the latter. Today, she would be on Made In Chelsea.

For all Robinson’s enticing performance, for all Ng’s soulful poetry and contemplative intelligence, this damaged-goods, volatile Julie is not the stuff of tragedy or shock. More a one-night stand with too much baggage.

The cat and mouse games of the Lion Dance in New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse’s Miss Julie at York Theatre Royal

Wan’s John encapsulates the new vision of Ng’s version. He walks with a swagger, emboldened and ambitious, his contempt on the rise, while still polishing the British Governor General’s shoes and wanting to use the British to facilitate his Western wishes, tantalised by the prospect of becoming a hotelier.

Neglectful of Christine, ultimately dismissive of Julie, his ambivalent actions are embedded both in an abiding sense of presumed male supremacy and now a need to challenge the sense of racial “inferiority” that eats away at his subservience.

Like her pragmatic, deceptively calculating character, Leong’s Christine is less demonstrative amid the melodrama, the crash and burn around her, in the Freudian battle of the sexes.

Who should be given the final moment in Lin’s beautifully composed production but Christine, preparing herself for the new day’s work; nothing to see here, carry on. Some lives will always occupy that lane, picking up the pieces, but they are not the lives of self-destructive destiny that make the story, that draw us to the theatre, whether in Strindberg or Ng’s account.

Remains of the day: Jennifer Leong’s house cook Christine at the close of Miss Julie

Review by Charles Hutchinson