More Things To Do in and around York as records are set straight and dark nights lit up. List No. 53, courtesy of The Press, York

Setting the record straight: Adrian Lukis’s roguish George Wickham in Being Mr Wickham at York Theatre Royal

AUTUMN’S fruits are ripe and ready for Charles Hutchinson to pick with no worries about shortages.

Scandal of the week: Being Mr Wickham, Original Theatre Company, York Theatre Royal, tonight until Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm, Saturday

ADRIAN Lukis played the vilified George Wickham in the BBC’s television adaptation of Pride And Prejudice 26 years ago this very month.

Time, he says, to set the record straight about Jane Austen’s most charmingly roguish character in his one-man play Being Mr Wickham, co-written with Catherine Curzon.

This is the chance to discover Wickham’s version of famous literary events. What really happened with Mr Darcy? What did he feel about Lizzie? What went on at Waterloo? Not to mention Byron. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Cate Hamer in rehearsal for the SJT and Live Theatre, Newcastle co-production of The Offing. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Play of the week outside York: The Offing, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until October 30

IN a Britain still reeling from the Second World War, Robert Appleyard sets out on an adventure at 16: to walk from his home in Durham to Scarborough, where he hopes to find work, but he never arrives there. 

Instead, up the coast at Robin Hood’s Bay, a chance encounter with the bohemian, eccentric Dulcie Piper leads to a lifelong, defining friendship. She introduces him to the joys of good food and wine, art and literature; he helps her lay to rest a ghost in Janice Okoh’s adaptation of Benjamin Myers’s novel for the SJT and Live Theatre, Newcastle. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.  

Simon Wright: Conducting York Guildhall Orchestra at York Barbican

Classic comeback: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, Saturday, 7.30pm

YORK Guildhall Orchestra return to the concert stage this weekend after the pandemic hiatus with a programme of operatic favourites, conducted by Simon Wright.

The York musicians will be joined by Leeds Festival Chorus and two soloists, soprano Jenny Stafford, and tenor Oliver Johnston, to perform overtures, arias and choruses by Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Rossini, Mozart, Puccini and Verdi. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Adam Kay: Medic, author and comedian, on visiting hours at Grand Opera House, York, on Sunday

Medical drama of the week: Adam Kay, This Is Going To Hurt, Secret Diaries Of A Junior Doctor, Grand Opera House, Sunday, 8pm

ADAM Kay, medic turned comic, shares entries from his diaries as a junior doctor in his evening of horror stories from the NHS frontline, savvy stand-up, witty wordplay and spoof songs.

His award-winning show, This Going To Hurt, has drawn 200,000 people to sell-out tours, the Edinburgh Fringe and West End runs, and the book of the same name topped the best sellers list for more than a year and is soon to be a BBC drama. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/york.

Boyzlife: Keith Duffy and Brian McFadden unite in Boyzone and Westlife songs at York Barbican

Irish night of the week: Boyzlife, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm; doors, 6.30pm

PUT Irish boy band graduates Brian McFadden, from Westlife, and Keith Duffy, from Boyzone, together and they become Boyzlife, as heard on the July 2020 album Strings Attached, recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

On tour with a full band, but not the ‘Phil’, they choose songs from a joint back catalogue of 18 number one singles and nine chart-topping albums.

So many to squeeze in…or not: No Matter What, Flying Without Wings, World Of Our Own, Queen Of My Heart, Picture Of You, Uptown Girl, You Raise Me Up, Going Gets Tough, Swear It Again, Father And Son, Love Me For A Reason and My Love. Find out on Sunday. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk

Thumper: Dublin band play Ad Nauseam and much more at Fulford Arms, York, on Tuesday

 Loudest gig of the week: Thumper, Fulford Arms, York, Tuesday, 8pm

THUMPER, the cult Dublin band with two thumping drummers, are back on the road after you know what, promoting a 2021 mix of their single Ad Nauseam: a cautionary tale of repetition, vanity and becoming too close to what you know will eat you.

From the Irish city of the equally visceral Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital, Thumper have emerged with their ragged guitars and “bratty, frenetic punk rock” (Q magazine).

Now their debut album is taking shape after the band were holed up in their home studio for months on end. The Adelphi, Hull, awaits on Wednesday.

At the fourth time of planning: Mary Coughlan, Pocklington Arts Centre, Tuesday, 8pm

Mary Coughlan: Life Stories in song at Pocklington Arts Centre

GALWAY jazz and blues chanteuse Mary Coughlan had to move her Pocklington show three times in response to the stultifying pandemic.

“Ireland’s Billie Holliday” twice rearranged the gig during 2020, and did so again this year in a switch from April 23 to October 19.

At the heart of Mary’s concert, fourth time lucky, will still be Life Stories, her 15th album, released on the wonderfully named Hail Mary Records last September. Box office: 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Spiers & Boden: Resurrected folk duo head to Pocklington on Wednesday

Double act of the week ahead: Spiers & Boden, Pocklington Arts Centre, Wednesday, 7.30pm

AFTER years of speculation, much-loved English folk duo Spiers & Boden are back together, releasing the album Fallow Ground and bringing a live show to Pocklington this autumn with special guests. 

First forming a duo in 2001, John Spiers, now 46, and Jon Boden, 44, became leading lights in big folk band Bellowhead, resting the duo in 2014, before Bellowhead headed into the sunset in 2016. Solo endeavours ensued but now Spiers & Boden return. Box office: 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Matilda takes on Miss Trunchbull in Matilda The Musical Jr

Musical of the week: Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical Jr, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, October 20 to 24, 7.30pm; 2pm, 4.30pm, Saturday; 2pm, Sunday.

ONLY the last few tickets are still available for York Stage Musicals’ York premiere of the Broadway Junior version of Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story.

Matilda has astonishing wit, intelligence, imagination…and special powers! Unloved by her cruel parents, she nevertheless impresses teacher Miss Honey, but mean headmistress Miss Trunchbull hates children and just loves thinking up new punishments for those who fail to abide by her rules. Hurry, hurry to the box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntheatre.co.uk.

People We Love: Curtailed by the second Covid lockdown, the York Mediale exhibition has a second life at York Minster from this weekend

Worth noting too:

PEOPLE We Love, the York Mediale exhibition, reopening at York Minster from Saturday. York Design Week, full of ideas, October 20 to 26, at yorkdesign week.com; Light Night Leeds 2021, with a Back To Nature theme for this art and lights festival tonight and tomorrow, at whatson.leeds.gov.uk; Live At Leeds gigs across 20 venues with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Sports Team, The Night Café, The Big Moon, Dream Wife, Poppy Adjuda, The Orielles and Thumper, at liveatleeds.com.

Council chaos and Covid clash in Tom Wilson’s timely anarchic farce The Local Authority at Joseph Rowntree Theatre

David Taylor as Richard Carol, left, Emma Turner as Tucker, Stewart Mathers as Dan Lucas and choreographer Karen Nadin as Tinger in a rehearsal scene from The Local Authority

YORK writer-director Tom Wilson’s new anarchic farce of council chaos and Covid, The Local Authority, will be premiered at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from August 5 to 7.

“Written some 12 months ago, the play is basically about a local council emergency budget meeting,” says Tom. “It’s very much a black comedy about embezzlement, chaotic dysfunctional individuals and families and a community trying to come to grips with the madness of the pandemic that engulfed us all – and still does – for well over a year.

“Look out for lots of adult themes, such as drug taking and alcoholism, zany sex workers, high-level council corruption, irrational budget and public amenity cuts, disintegrating relationships and canines in nappies.

“Hopefully it will offer people a chance to purge themselves of the intensity that this virus has forced on us all. I’m hoping it will give folk the opportunity to laugh their way out of the doldrums, laughing at their oppressor as they reclaim their smiles and freedom.”

Tom had written one play, set to be premiered at the JoRo until Covic intervened, and then turned all his thoughts instead to creating a rip-roaring comedy for our times in the tradition of Joe Orton. Cue The Local Authority.

Joel Campbell as Paul Hymen in The Local Authority

In a nutshell, what starts off as a local council emergency budget-cutting meeting on Zoom rapidly descends into an unstructured free-for-all and a chaotic mêlée.

“Eventually, it breaks out into a physical space on stage too,” says Tom. “The story is woven around manager Lesley Carol’s secretive drinking problem and very public fall from grace, and the play gradually reveals most of the participants’ warts and private thoughts.

“After lurid revelations and catastrophic arguments, stories of embezzlement and financial corruption, historic accusations and shocking recriminations, it eventually offers hope for the future and redemption.”

The disintegrating council meeting serves to highlight the confusion and problems faced in the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic, says Tom. “It shows the damaging misinformation and the scapegoating that was apparent within some circles, and how some parts of the UK had a different attitude and alternative ways they were prepared to try to quell the burgeoning nightmare that was engulfing all of us,” he highlights.

“There are the failed experiments and the inappropriate language that was levelled in some quarters.” 

Rowan Naylor-Mayers as Neil Planter, left, and Stewart Mathers as Dan Lucas in rehearsal for Tom Wilson’s The Local Authority

This story is pertinent, suggests Tom, because “we can all so easily forget how reluctant some of us were to believe what was actually happening and comply and do the right thing in order to help and support each other”.

“We forget how selfish and paranoid we can and have been around all this mayhem,” he says. “No-one wanted it, but it not only touched our lives, it pretty much brought our lives and societies to a standstill. Although some of the statements are preposterous and some of the characters are petulant and immature in The Local Authority, isn’t that what we all experienced at different times during this hideous hayride?

“We should all want to remember how this pandemic took a stranglehold of us and how we thought in the beginning: ‘If I ignore it then it will go away. It won’t affect me; it will only affect the others’.”

Tom reflects on his own experiences. “I know I thought that way, until it touched those around me, until it took some around me, and finally until I was in hospital myself having an operation and I inadvertently caught it,” he says.

“While lying in bed one night, after being despatched to the Covid ward, not being able to sleep through sheer fear, I saw people being discreetly inserted into body bags and removed. The next morning their bed and belongings had all mysteriously disappeared, as if by magic. There was no trace that they ever existed at all.”

Looking ahead, Tom predicts: “Once this is all over and the hordes and the masses return to their decadent revelry with much gusto, I’m sure a lot of the darkness and intensity will be minimised and eventually put on the back burners and forgotten. 

Kate Hargrave as Christine Nunn during rehearsals for Naloxone Theatre Ensemble’s premiere of The Local Authority

“Let’s hope that tongue-in-cheek, light-and-shade plays like The Local Authority serve to remind us of our folly and our good fortune to still be here to tell the bleak tale and to offer hope to the despairing.”

Rehearsals have been going well, despite the Covid curse of two cast members having had to self-isolate “due to the pandemic not having a sense of humour” and a late change of casting for the role of Lesley Carol. “But we will be ready on the night,” says Tom. “Tickets are selling, steady away, and we’re all getting mighty excited, like horses in the stalls on Derby Day. A splendiferous time is ‘subject to terms and conditions’ for all!”

Summing up his wishes for the impact of The Local Authority, Tom says: “Sincerely, I hope it will serve as a beacon to highlight the ways in which, for better or worse, society has been irrevocably altered, even scared and left wounded.

“Among the many deeds of goodness and ill carried out in the name of virtue, folly or profit, we are all seeking practical and logistical solutions for a ‘new’, more caring and thoughtful society, engendering universal hope for our shared future.”

Naloxone Theatre Ensemble presents Tom Wilson’s premiere of The Local Authority, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, August 5 to 7, 7.30pm and 2.3p0pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk

Did you know?

THE Local Authority will feature music from Tom Wilson’s old band, Scratchings No Gravy, plus songs by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, The Edgar Broughton Band, Earl Bostic, Ry Cooder and Hound Dog Taylor.

Copyright of The Press, York

Who will win Yorkshire’s Got Talent? Find out at 8pm tonight after votes close at 7pm

Glittering prize: Today is judgement day for Yorkshire’s Got Talent

WHO will win Yorkshire’s Got Talent, the contest organised by York teenage musical actor Hannah Wakelam in aid of the Joseph Rowntree Theatre’s £90,000 Raise The Roof appeal.

Today is the final of this online competition, and the choice lies between Fladam (the silly-song double act of Florence Poskitt and pianist Adam Sowter), Ed Atkin and Jordan Wright.

Hannah has created a poll for public votes that will be combined with the judges’ votes (each one classed as 25 votes) and guest panel votes (each worth 20 votes).

Judging the competition from the start have been Wicked star Laura Pick, cruise-ship vocal captain Nathan Lodge and vocal coach Amelia Urukalo

Voting closes today at 7pm and the winner will be announced at 8pm. To vote, go to: https://www.facebook.com/.groups/.687590815139642/.permalink/.755696498329073/.

Joseph Rowntree Theatre shuts down “until further instruction it is safe to re-open”

The Joseph Rowntree Theatre: York’s Art Deco community theatre

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, is closing until “further instruction that it is safe to re-open”, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement issued late last night, chair of trustees Dan Shrimpton said: “Today (March 16),  the Government announced that unnecessary social contact should be avoided, including visits to social venues such as theatres.

“The safety of our community is paramount, and in light of this announcement, it is with a heavy heart that we will be closing the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, until we receive further instruction that it is safe to reopen.

“Needless to say, this is desperately disappointing for the producing companies, our audiences, volunteers, indeed everyone who forms part of the Joseph Rowntree Theatre’s community.”

The statement on behalf of the Haxby Road theatre continued: “We will be issuing further advice in the coming days on how we are going to manage ticket refunds and exchanges. We appreciate that you will have questions about bookings and refunds; however, we would ask that you please bear with us and wait for us to contact you.

“Thank you in advance for your support. We appreciate that this is a very worrying time for everyone in our community.”

Among the upcoming shows in the diary at York’s community theatre are: York St John University MPS’s Guys And Dolls, March 19 to 21; The Bev Jones Music Company’s Guys And Dolls, March 25 to 28; Flying Ducks Youth Theatre’s Crush: The Musical, April 2 to 4; Jessa Liversidge’s Songbirds, April 5, and Rowntree Players’ premiere of Ian Donaghy’s The Missing Peace, April 17 and 18.