More Things To Do in York and beyond as Pinter’s pause and effect comes home to roost. List No 82, courtesy of The Press

Keith Allen: Homing in on The Homecoming arriving at York Theatre Royal on Monday

AVOIDING the “devastation of stag and hen parties” (copyright Rachael Maskell, York Central MP), Charles Hutchinson finds reasons aplenty to venture out.

Play of the week: Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, York Theatre Royal, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm; Thursday, 2pm; Saturday, 2.30pm

GAVIN & Stacey star Mathew Horne and Keith Allen star in Jamie Glover’s new production of The Homecoming, Harold Pinter’s bleakly funny 1965 exploration of family and relationships.

University professor Teddy returns to his North London childhood home from America, accompanied by his wife Ruth, to find his father, uncle and brothers still living there. As life becomes a barely camouflaged battle for power and sexual supremacy, who will emerge victorious: poised and elegant Ruth or her husband’s dysfunctional family? Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Tom Figgins: Introducing new material tonight at Stillington Mill. Picture: Daniel Harris

Outdoor gig of the week: Tom Figgins, Music At The Mill, Stillington Mill, near York, tonight, 7.30pm

SINGER-SONGWRITER Tom Figgins returns to At The Mill’s garden stage after last summer’s sold-out performance, with the promise of new material.

Figgins’ vocal range, guitar playing and compelling lyrics caught the ear of presenter Chris Evans, who hosted him on his BBC Radio 2 show and invited him to play the main stage at CarFest North & South.

His instrumental works have been heard on Countryfile and Panorama and he is the composer for the Benlunar podcast, now on its fourth series. Box office:  tickettailor.com/events/atthemill.

Martin Roscoe: Guest piano soloist for York Guildhall Orchestra

Classical concert of the week: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm

YORK Guildhall Orchestra’s final concert of their 2021-2022 season welcomes the long-awaited return of pianist Martin Roscoe, originally booked to perform in May 2020.

Retained from that Covid-cancelled programme are Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite, with its combination of cheeky jazz tunes and the Russian’s mastery of orchestration, and Dohnanyi’s mock-serious take on a children’s nursery rhyme. Leeds Festival Chorus join in for Elgar’s Music Makers. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Go West and Paul Young: Eighties’ revival at York Barbican

Eighties’ nostalgia of the week: Go West & Paul Young, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm

PETER Cox and Richard Drummer’s slick duo, Go West, and Luton soul singer Paul Young go north this weekend for a double bill of Eighties’ pop.

Expect We Close Our Eyes, Call Me, Don’t Look Down and King Of Wishful Thinking, from the Pretty Woman soundtrack, in Go West’s set. The chart-topping Wherever I Lay My Hat, Love Of The Common People, Everytime You Go Away and Everything Must Change will be on Young’s To Do list. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Wanting a word with you at the Grand Opera House

Fun and word games of the week: Paul Merton’s Impro Chums, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 8pm

HAVE I Got News For You regular and Comedy Store Players co-founder Paul Merton teams up with fellow seasoned improvisers Richard Vranch, Suki Webster and Mike McShane and accompanist Kirsty Newton to flex their off-the-cuff comedy muscles on their first antics roadshow travels since August 2019.

“What audiences like about what we do is that we haven’t lost our sense of play, our sense of fun, the sort of thing that gets knocked out of you because you have to get married or get a mortgage or find a job,” says Merton. Let the fun and games sparked by audience suggestions begin. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Hayley Ria Christian: All aboard her Midnight Train To Georgia for a night of Gladys Knight hits

Homage, not tribute show, of the week: Hayley Ria Christian in Midnight Train To Georgia, A Celebration Of Gladys Knight, Grand Opera House, York, Friday, 7.30pm

HAYLEY Ria Christian’s show is “definitely not a tribute, but a faithful portrayal that truly pays homage to the voice of a generation, the one and only Empress of Soul, Ms Gladys Knight”.

In the late Sixties and Seventies, Gladys Knight & The Pips enjoyed such hits as Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me, Help Me Make It Through The Night, Try To Remember/The Way We Were, Baby, Don’t Change Your Mind and her signature song Midnight Train To Georgia. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Milton Jones: International spy turned comedian in Milton: Impossible

Comedy gig of the week: Milton Jones in Milton: Impossible, Harrogate Theatre, May 21, 7.30pm

ONE man. One Mission. Is it possible? “No, not really,” says Kew comedian Milton Jones, the shock-haired matador of the piercing one-liner, as he reveals the truth behind having once been an international spy, but then being given a somewhat disappointing new identity that forced him to appear on Mock The Week.

“But this is also a love story with a twist, or at least a really bad sprain,” says Jones. “Is it all just gloriously daft nonsense, or is there a deeper meaning?”  Find out next weekend. Box office: 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

Grace Petrie: Carrying on the fight for a better tomorrow when every day you are told you have lost already

Protest gig of the week: Grace Petrie, The Crescent, York, May 23, 7.30pm

DIY protest singer Grace Petrie emerged from lockdown with Connectivity, her 2021 polemical folk album that reflects on what humanity means in a world struggling against division and destruction.

Petrie’s honest songs seek a way to carry on the fight for a better tomorrow when every day you are told you have lost already. Bad news: her York gig has sold out. Good news: she will be playing Social, Hull, too on May 18 at 8pm (box office, seetickets.com). On both nights, she will be accompanied by long-time collaborator, singer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Moss.

More Things To Do in and around York when Wrong is the right choice. Magical List No.79, courtesy of The Press, York

Mind games: Beverley actor Rory Fairbairn as the Mind Mangler in Magic Goes Wrong, on tour at York Theatre Royal from Tuesday

MAGIC is on the cards in the week ahead, and you can’t wrong if you follow Charles Hutchinson’s tips for what else to do and see.

Mayhem in April: Mischief in Magic Goes Wrong, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Sunday, 7.30pm (except Sunday); 2pm, Thursday and Sunday, 2.30pm, Saturday

MASTERS of catastrophic comedy Mischief team up with deconstructionist American magicians Penn & Teller for Magic Goes Wrong, their most daring calamitous show yet.

When a hapless gang of magicians strive to stage an evening of grand illusion to raise cash for charity, magic turns to mayhem, accidents spiral out of control and so does their fundraising target. Penn & Teller will not be appearing on stage. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Kristin Hersh: Fronting her Electric Trio at The Crescent

Cult gig of the week: Kristin Hersh Electric Trio, The Crescent, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

BOSTON songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and author Kristin Hersh, leader of indie rock band Throwing Muses and noise rock power trio 50 Foot Wave, is on the road with her hard-hitting super-group.

Joining Hersh, 55, will be 50 Foot Wave drummer Rob Ahlers and Throwing Muses bassist Fred Abong, who opens the night playing solo, promoting his Yellow Throat album. Expect Throwing Muses’s 2020 album, Sun Racket, to feature alongside material spanning Hersh’s 30-year career. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Improvising a musical: Showstoppers Ruth Bratt, left, Lauren Shearing and Pippa Evans with Duncan Walsh Atkins, on keys, and Chris Ash on reeds. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

Anything could happen: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, York Theatre Royal, tonight, 7.30pm

OLIVIER Award winners Showstopper! return to York with…well, you decide! At each show, a new musical comedy is created from scratch as audience suggestions are transformed on the spot into an all-singing, all-dancing production.

From Hamilton in a hospital to Sondheim in the Sahara, you suggest it and The Showstoppers will sing it. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Blues power: Guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor returns to York Barbican

Blues gig of the week: Joanne Shaw Taylor, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm

WEST Midlands blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Joanne Shaw Taylor plays York as one of five British dates this month, performing songs from 2021’s The Blues Album.

That album showcased covers of 11 rare blues classics first recorded by Albert King, Peter Green, Little Richard, Magic Sam, Aretha Franklin and Little Milton. Expect selections from her albums Reckless Heart, Wild, The Dirty Truth, Almost Always Never, Diamonds In The Dirt and White Sugar too. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Gabrielle Sargent: Soprano soloist for York Guildhall Orchestra’s St George’s Day concert

Celebration of the week: York Guildhall Orchestra’s St George’s Day Concert, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

YORK Guildhall Orchestra make their JoRo debut under the baton of conductor Simon Wright, who turns the spotlight on English composers in an Anglophile programme of light music to mark St George’s Day.

“Come down for a springtime evening of joyful music and not a dragon in sight,” says Wright, who will be combining favourite pieces with lesser-known gems. Sullivan, Elgar and Handel feature; so do Strachy’s Party Mood (from Housewives’ Choice), Wood’s Barwick Green (The Archers) and Coates’s By The Sleepy Lagoon (Desert Island Discs). Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

One giant leap for Lee Harris’s Mr Toad during rehearsals for NE Musicals York’s York premiere of The Wind In The Willows The Musical

Family musical of the week: NE Musicals York in The Wind In The Willows The Musical, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, April 27 to May 1, 7.30pm; 2.30pm matinees, Saturday, Sunday

NE Musicals York transform the JoRo theatre into a riverbank and wildwood for director and designer Steve Tearle’s York premiere of Julian Fellowes’ stage adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s story with a score by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

Join Ratty (Finlay Butler), Mole (Jack Hambleton), Badger (Tom Henshaw) and the impulsive Mr Toad (Lee Harris), whose insatiable need for speed lands him in serious bother. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Horse Chestnut Leaves, a watercolour by Selby artist Lynda Heaton, from her Village Gallery exhibition in York

Exhibition launch of the week: Lynda Heaton, Expressions In Watercolour, Village Gallery, Colliergate, York, Tuesday to June 4

SINCE retiring, Selby artist Lynda Heaton has spent much of her time painting in her home studio. “I’m passionate about watercolour painting and love the way the colours mingle and move across the paper, sometimes giving surprising effects,” she says.

“My works come from my imagination or from memories of somewhere I’ve been and the mood of that place.” Other pieces are inspired by the natural world, the colours, textures and rhythms found in nature.

Diversity performing Connected in their April 4 performance at York Barbican. Picture: Sarah Hollis

Quick return of the week: Diversity: Connected, York Barbican, Wednesday, 7.45pm

HOT on the heels of their April 4 visit, London street dancers Diversity return to York Barbican due to public demand as part of their 79-show 2022 tour.

In a show created by choreographer Ashley Banjo, the 2009 Britain’s Got Talent winners will be building their routines around the internet, social media, the digital era and how it connects us all. Their Black Lives Matter-inspired dance, premiered on Britain’s Got Talent to a flood of complaints to Ofcom in September 2020, definitely features. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

This woman’s re-work: Sarah-Louise Young in An Evening Without Kate Bush at Theatre@41

An Evening Without Kate Bush but with Sarah-Louise Young, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York,  Thursday, 7.30pm

THE “chaotic cabaret cult”, An Evening Without Kate Bush”, finds Cabaret Whore, The Showstoppers, La Soiree performer Sarah-Louise Young teaming up theatre maker Russell Lucas to explore the music and mythology of one of the most influential voices in British music.

Kate’s not there, but you are, for a show that is as much about fandom as Bush’s songs and wider cultural impact. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond, when Jason’s gig is but one good reason to go out. List No. 71, courtesy of The Press

Michael McIntyre: Road-testing new gags at the Grand Opera House, York

FROM McIntyre to Macbeth, two Aussies to an English celebration, a Ugandan story to a pioneering Welsh icon, Charles Hutchinson spreads his net wide.  

Talking point gig of the week: Michael McIntyre: Work In Progress, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 8pm

COMEDIAN Michael McIntyre will put new material to the test in a “York In Progress” show hastily arranged mid-month for February 28.

Tickets sold out within two hours of going on sale on February 15 for the 45-year-old Londoner’s latest dollops of observational comedy, wherein he turns everyday situations into outpourings of startled exasperation.

The jovial Big Show and The Wheel host previously played a three-night run of Work In Progress gigs at the Grand Opera House in July 2012. For returns only, 0844 871 7615.

Tachia Newall and Jessica Baglow in a masked rehearsal for their roles as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at Leeds Playhouse

Play of the week outside York: Macbeth, Leeds Playhouse, tonight until March 19

DIRECTOR Amy Leach and designer Hayley Grindle have created a vibrant, raw and visceral vision of Shakespeare’s thrilling tragedy, Macbeth.

Tachia Newall plays the ambitious northern warrior, who does whatever it takes to gain power and, ultimately, the throne, propelled further into darkness by his wife, Jessica Baglow’s Lady Macbeth, whose hands bear witness to her own greed and corruption. Look out for York actress Ashleigh Wilder as one of the witches. Box office: 0113 213 7700 or at leedsplayhouse.org.uk.

She Drew The Gun: Songs decrying corruption, abuse and division at The Crescent, York

York indie gig of the week: She Drew The Gun, The Crescent, York, tonight, 7.30pm

PASSIONATE, principled, and refreshingly plain-spoken, proud socialist, feminist, bi-sexual mother of one Louisa Roach will not be cowed into silence.

As She Drew The Gun, the Wirral singer-songwriter uses punk-infused psych-pop as a vehicle for exposing injustice and for advocating a fairer and more tolerant society.

Written in lockdown and recorded at McCall Sound Studios in Sheffield, latest album Behave Myself decries corruption, abuse and the continued divisions between rich and poor that have only worsened in the pandemic. Annabel Allum supports. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Jason Donovan: So many reasons to celebrate his York Barbican concert

Third time lucky: Jason Donovan, Even More Good Reasons, York Barbican, Monday, 8pm

AFTER postponements in September 2020 and November 2021, Aussie heartthrob Jason Donovan’s 52-date tour to mark the 30th anniversary of his debut album, Ten Good Reasons, is finally happening. That anniversary actually passed as long ago as May 2019 on a faraway pre-pandemic planet!

“Having not done my own live shows for a while, I can’t wait to get out there again among my fans and deliver a new energetic show that is both personal, creative and reflective – something that is both nostalgic and just a good night out,” says the one-time Neighbours soap pin-up turned star of pop, stage musicals and theatre. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Writer-performer John Rwothomack in his one-man show Far Gone at York Theatre Royal Studio

Solo show of the week, John Rwothomack in Far Gone, York Theatre Royal Studio, Thursday and Friday, 7.45pm

WRITTEN and performed by John Rwothomack, Far Gone is set in northern Uganda, where Okumu’s village is attacked by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), changing Okumu and his brother’s lives forever.

The story of a young boy’s journey from childhood innocence to child soldier is seen through the eyes of those that love him and those that betray him, as presented by Ugandan-born, London-trained and Sheffield-based Rwothomack in his debut play as writer and performer, prompted by himself nearly being kidnapped by the LRA guerrilla rebel group.

He explores complex issues of war, religion and power, drawing on the contrast between his experiences as a child in Uganda and as a young black man in Britain, and how perceptions of “Africa” have affected his own narrative. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Tommy Emmanuel: Playing his best “Tommysongs” at the Grand Opera House, York

Guitar virtuoso of the week: Tommy Emmanuel, Grand Opera House, York, March 6, 8pm

LAST seen in Britain performing on the Transatlantic Sessions Tour, Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel returns for 13 dates in February and March with dobro master Jerry Douglas as his special guest.

Emmanuel, 66, who improvises big chunks of each concert, will be showcasing The Best Of Tommysongs, a double album of re-recordings of his best original songs from the past 30 years with new modern arrangements.

Angelina, Lewis & Clark, It’s Never Too Late, fan favourites Mombasa and Train To Dusseldorf and new compositions Fuel and Song For A Rainy Morning will be aired in York. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.

Simon Wright: Conducting York Guildhall Orchestra’s St George’s Day debut at the JoRo

Bring out the flags: York Guildhall Orchestra, St George’s Day Concert, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, April 23,7.30pm

YORK Guildhall Orchestra and conductor Simon Wright make their Joseph Rowntree Theatre debut with a celebration of patron saint St George in an evening of light music with the spotlight on English composers.

Expect a variety of favourite pieces alongside some lesser-known gems, but not a dragon in sight in this joyful springtime programme. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Going Underground: Velvet pioneer John Cale to play York Barbican at 80

Gig announcement of the week: John Cale, York Barbican, July 19

VELVET Underground icon John Cale will play York as the only Yorkshire gig of his seven-date summer tour, his first British itinerary in a decade, with tickets going on sale on Wednesday at 10am.

The Welsh multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer, who turns 80 on March 9, will perform songs from a career that began in classical and avant-garde music before he formed The Velvet Underground with Lou Reed in New York in 1965.

Over six pioneering decades, Cale has released 16 solo studio albums, most recently M:Fans in 2016, while also collaborating with Brian Eno, Patti Smith, The Stooges, Squeeze, Happy Mondays, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Super Furry Animals and Manic Street Preachers. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond, from rock’n’roll raves to a comedy variant. List No. 68, courtesy of The Press, York

The Bluejays: Ready to Rave On at York Theatre Royal

GOLDEN hits, blue art, a grotesque puppet, raucous inventions, a brace of musicals and an on-trend comedian are Charles Hutchinson’s fancies for cultural gratification.

Nostalgia trip of the week: The Bluejays in Rave On, York Theatre Royal, Saturday (5/2/2022), 7.30pm

THE Bluejays, a group comprised of West End stars from The Buddy Holly Story, Million Dollar Quartet, One Man, Two Guvnors and Dreamboats & Petticoats, head back to the fabulous Fifties and swinging Sixties in Rave On.

Charting the meteoric rise of rock’n’roll, this joyful journey through these revolutionary musical decades revels in the golden days of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Neil Sedaka, The Kinks, Connie Francis, Lulu and The Shadows. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rebecca Taylor: Soloist for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 at York Guildhall Orchestra’s concert

Beethoven at the double: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm

REBECCA Taylor will be the soloist for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 in the second concert of York Guildhall Orchestra’s 41st season.

Under conductor Simon Wright, the orchestra also perform one of Beethoven’s rarely played overtures, an 1811 commemorative work to King Stephen 1st, founder of Hungary in 1000AD.

The second half features a stalwart of the symphonic repertoire, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5,  a popular work that “demonstrates his darker side, perhaps ultimate victory through strife,” says Wright. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Jane Dignum’s poster for Westside Artists’ Into The Blue exhibition at Pyramid Gallery, York

Group exhibition of the week: Westside Artists’ Into The Blue at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, until March 13, open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm

EACH of the Westside Artists, a group from the west end of York, has created new work to portray a personal interpretation and concept of the exhibition title, Into The Blue, at Terry Brett’s Pyramid Gallery.

Taking part are Adele Karmazyn (digital photomontage); Carolyn Coles (painting); Donna Marie Taylor (mixed media); Ealish Wilson (mixed media and sculpture); Fran Brammer (textiles) and Jane Dignum (printmaking).

So to are Jill Tattersall (mixed-media collage); Kate Akrill (ceramics); Lucie Wake (painting); Mark Druery (printmaking); Richard Rhodes (ceramics); Sharon McDonagh (mixed media) and Simon Palmour (photography).

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company cast members in rehearsal for Kipps, The New Half A Sixpence Musical

Who will he choose? Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company in Kipps, The New Half A Sixpence Musical, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 9 to 12, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

IN the coastal town of Folkestone, Arthur Kipps knows there is more to life than his demanding but unrewarding job as an apprentice draper.

When he suddenly inherits a fortune, Kipps is thrown into a world of upper-class soirées and strict rules of etiquette that he barely understands. Torn between the affections of the kind but proper Helen and childhood sweetheart Ann, Kipps must determine whether such a simple soul can find a place in high society.

Tickets for this Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company fundraising show for the JoRo are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Blackeyed Theatre in Frankenstein, on tour at the SJT, Scarborough, from Wednesday. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

Fright nights ahead: Blackeyed Theatre in Frankenstein, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, February 9 to 12

SOUTH Yorkshire playwright Nick Lane has reinterpreted John Ginman’s original 2016 script for Bracknell touring company Blackeyed Theatre, built around Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel set in Geneva in 1816, where Victor Frankenstein obsesses in the pursuit of nature’s secret, the elixir of life itself.

This highly theatrical telling combines live music and ensemble storytelling with Bunraku-style puppetry to portray The Creature. Designed and built by Warhorse and His Dark Materials alumna Yvonne Stone, the 6ft 4inch puppet is operated by up to three actors at any one time. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.

Jonny Holbek in rehearsal for his role of Che in York Light Opera Company’s production of Evita

“Big sing” of the week ahead: York Light Opera Company in Evita, York Theatre Royal, February 9 to 19

DIRECTOR Martyn Knight has decided to use double casting for the five main roles in Evita, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical of people, politics and power, in response to Covid-19’s ongoing impact.

The principals have been rehearsing separately, with Alexa Chaplin and Emma-Louise Dickinson sharing the lead role of Eva Peron; Dale Vaughan and Jonny Holbek playing Che; John Hall and Neil Wood as Juan Peron, Dave Copley-Martin and Richard Weatherill as Agustin Maglidi, and Fiona Phillips and Hannah Witcomb as Peron’s Mistress.

Covid, long Covid and even physical injuries have necessitated Knight drawing up his 18th cast list at the latest count. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Con Brio, by Mark Hearld, at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Picture: Red Photography

Last chance to see: Mark Hearld’s Raucous Invention: The Joy Of Making, Upper Space and YSP Centre, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, ends tomorrow (6/2/2022)

THIS weekend is the finale to Raucous Invention: The Joy Of Making, an  ambitious, vibrant, and creative journey wherein York artist and designer Mark Hearld explores connections through collaboration and risk-taking to create bold and challenging works, including tapestries and ceramics.

Working from his Portland Street studio across a range of media and using the natural world as inspiration, Hearld has made collages, lino-cut prints, letter-press prints and a large-scale mural that fills the walls of the YSP kitchen in the visitor centre. You will need to book at ysp.org.uk.

Pandemic pontifications: Russell Kane’s new tour show, The Essex Variant!, is heading to York Barbican

Still the only subject in town by then? Russell Kane Live: The Essex Variant!, York Barbican, December 14

ENFIELD humorist Russell Kane offers his “gut-punch funny, searing take on the two years we’ve just gone through” in his new stand-up tour show, The Essex Variant!. More like, three years, by then.

Comic, writer, presenter and actor Kane presents two podcasts, Man Baggage and BBC Radio 4’s Evil Genius and is a regular on Channel 4, BBC and ITV. “I drink lots of coffee and I’m ‘like that in real life’,” he says. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

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.

More Things To Do in and around York as well as that belated Bond film you’ve been dying for. List No. 51, courtesy of The Press

Unhappy hour at The Midnight Bell tavern? Oh, but the joys of a new Matthew Bourne show visiting York Theatre Royal

DANCE at the double, Jekyll & Hyde, a quartet of short plays, sax music and Late Music, a Manic Monday and a Taylor-made gig are Charles Hutchinson’s pick of the early autumn harvest of live shows.

Intoxicated tales from darkest Soho: Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell, York Theatre Royal, tonight to Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

CHOREOGRAPHER and storyteller in dance Matthew Bourne’s new show for New Adventures explores the underbelly of 1930s’ London life, where ordinary people emerge from cheap boarding houses nightly to pour out their passions hopes and dreams in the bars of fog-bound Soho and Fitzrovia.

Inside The Midnight Bell, one particularly lonely-hearts club gathers to play out lovelorn affairs of the heart; bitter comedies of longing, frustration, betrayal and redemption.

Inspired by novelist Patrick Hamilton, Bourne’s dance theatre show will challenge and reveal the darker reaches of the human heart. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

Hands down (by your sides) if you can’t wait for the return of Riverdance

The other dance event of the week: Riverdance: The New 25th Anniversary Show, York Barbican, tomorrow to Sunday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

TWENTY-FIVE years on, composer Bill Whelan has re-recorded his mesmerising soundtrack while producer Moya Doherty and director John McColgan have completely reimagined the Irish  and international dance show with innovative and spectacular lighting, projection, stage and costume designs. 

The 25th Anniversary show catapults Riverdance into the 21st century and will “completely immerse you in the extraordinary and elemental power of its music and dance”. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Blackeyed Theatre in Nick Lane’s take on Jekyll & Hyde, on tour at Stephen Joseph Theatre

Play of the week outside York: Blackeyed Theatre in The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde , Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, tonight until Saturday

NICK Lane’s adaptation of Jekyll & Hyde draws inspiration from his own journey. Injured by a car accident when he was 26 that permanently damaged his neck and back, he imagines Jekyll as a physically weakened man who discovers a cure for his ailments; a cure that also unearths the darkest corners of his psyche.

“I wondered, if someone offered me a potion that was guaranteed to make me feel the way I did before the accident, but with the side effect that I’d become ruthless and horrible – would I drink it?” ponders Lane.

Combining ensemble storytelling, physical theatre, movement and a new musical score by Tristan Parkes, Lane remains true to the spirit and themes of the original novella while adding a major female character, Eleanor. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.

Caught Short? No photos, so here is the poster artwork for RhymeNReason Put On Shorts, up and running at Theatre@41

Short run of the week: RhymeNReason Put On Shorts, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, until Saturday, 7.30pm

WHAT was Margaret Thatcher’s relationship with Jimmy Savile? Why did a Yorkshire pensioner try to smuggle a fruit cake through Australian customs? What really happened on day three in the Garden of Eden? How should a perfect murder end in a real cliff hanger? 

Questions, questions, all these questions, will be answered in funny, thought-provoking short plays by Yorkshire writers David Allison, Steve Brennen, Lisa Holdsworth and Graham Rollason. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Sax Forte: Lunchtime concert at St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel

The good sax guide: Sax Forte, Friday Concerts, St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, York, tomorrow, 12.30m

YORK saxophone quartet Sax Forte – Chris Hayes, Keith Schooling, Jane Parkin and David Badcock – open York Unitarians’ new season of Friday Concerts with an afternoon programme of English and French music.

Introducing themselves, Sax Forte say: “Chris plays soprano sax because he likes showing off; Keith plays alto sax because he tries to keep up with Chris; Jane plays baritone because she’s got the strongest shoulders; David knows his place (with apologies to The Two Ronnies and John Cleese)!”

The saxophone was not invented until the mid-19th century, but Sax Forte will be playing earlier classical and baroque pieces, trad folk tunes and later 19th and 20th works for sax quartet.

Conductor Simon Wright: Bringing together York Guildhall Orchestra and Leeds Festival Chorus next month

Classic comeback: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, October 16, 7.30pm

YORK Guildhall Orchestra return to the concert stage on October 16 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.

Late Music…now: Gemini, St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, Saturday, 7.30pm

YORK’S Late Music programme of contemporary music returns from pandemic lockdown with Gemini on Saturday night.

First performances will be given of Gemini’s commission of Sadie Harrison’s Fire In Song and Morag Galloway’s It’s Getting Hot In Here, complemented by Peter Maxwell Davies’s Economies Of Scale and works by York composer Steve Crowther and Philip Grange. Box office: latemusic.org or on the door.

Reflection and reaction: Manic Street Preachers showcase new album Ultra Vivid Lament at York Barbican

Not just another Manic Monday: Manic Street Preachers, York Barbican, Monday, 8pm

WELSH rock band Manic Street Preachers play York on Monday, with a second Yorkshire gig at Leeds O2 Academy on October 7.

Their autumn itinerary is showcasing this month’s release of their 14th studio album, The Ultra Vivid Lament: “both reflection and reaction; a record that gazes in isolation across a cluttered room, fogged by often painful memories, to focus on an open window framing a gleaming vista of land melting into sea and endless sky,” say the Manics.  Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

From Queen to Outsider: Roget Taylor in concert at York Barbican

The inside track on the outsider:  Roger Taylor, Outsider Tour, York Barbican, Tuesday, 7pm

QUEEN drummer Roger Taylor plays York Barbican as the only Yorkshire show of this autumn’s Outsider tour in support of his new album of that name, out tomorrow.

“This is my modest tour,” he says. “I just want it to be lots of fun, very good musically, and I want everybody to enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to it. Will I be playing Queen songs too? Absolutely!” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Go wild in the country: The Shires look forward to returning yet again to the East Yorkshire market town of Pocklington next January

Gig announcement of the week outside York: The Shires, Pocklington Arts Centre, January 26 2022

THE Shires, Britain’s best-selling country music act, will bring their 2022 intimate acoustic tour to their regular haunt of Pocklington  next January.

“Wembley Stadium, MEN Arena, Grand Ole Opry are all amazing, but Pocklington will always be a special place for us,” say Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes, who are working on their fifth album. Box office: 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

We’ve been expecting you, Mr Bond…for a long time

Oh, and just one other thing….

BOND, James Bond. Yes, after all those false dawns in the accursed Covid lockdowns, the perpetually postponed final curtain for Daniel Craig’s 007 opens today when it really is time for No Time To Die to live or die at last. Shaken or stirred, thrilled or deflated, you decide.

York Guildhall Orchestra to be joined by Leeds Festival Chorus at York Barbican

“We’ve all missed live music and the joy it brings, so it’s very special to be performing again,” says York Guildhall Orchestra conductor Simon Wright

YORK Guildhall Orchestra will return to the concert stage on October 16 after the pandemic hiatus with a 7.30pm programme of operatic favourites at York Barbican.

The York musicians will be joined by Leeds Festival Chorus and soloists Jenny Stafford and Oliver Johnston to perform overtures, arias and choruses by Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Rossini, Mozart, Puccini and Verdi.

“There really is something for everyone to enjoy,” says conductor Simon Wright, who is overjoyed to be bringing classical music back to York Barbican after such a long, Covid-enforced  gap. 

“We’ve all missed live music and the joy it brings, so it’s very special to be performing again.  As the conductor of both ensembles, York Guildhall Orchestra and Leeds Festival Chorus, it gives me great pleasure to bring them together on stage – along with our wonderful soloists – for what promises to be a fabulous concert and a celebration of live music-making.” 

Tickets are on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk, priced £18 for adults and £6 for children under 16/students in full-time education, plus the booking fee.

Next month’s concert will comply with York Barbican’s Covid-19 protocol to keep performers and audience members safe. 

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on York Guildhall Orchestra’s 40th Anniversary

Cellist Jamie Walton: “skill of a practised magician”. Picture: Wolf Marloh

REVIEW: York Guildhall Orchestra, 40th Anniversary Concert, York Barbican, February 15 *****

HAD I not been there myself, I would have hardly believed that the Guildhall Orchestra (as it was then known and is still popularly described) first saw the light of day 40 years ago.

It has been a marvellous four decades. And still there is a sense of excited anticipation before its every performance. We know we are in for something special.

Saturday’s celebration, conducted by Simon Wright, was no exception. A Ravel suite, an Elgar concerto and a Brahms symphony were leavened by a birthday cake of Celebratory Fantasy Variations baked by the founder himself, John Hastie.

His tasty pastiche wove myriad musical allusions – including Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, Britten, even a samba – into variations on Happy Birthda’. As the piece finished, the audience even got to join in with the song’s last line (wisely, after a rehearsal). Good fun.

Ravel’s Mother Goose featured on the opening night in 1980. Here it was again in all its gentle finery, giving us a chance to admire again the nicely controlled talents of the woodwinds: sinuous oboe for Tom Thumb’s walk, for example, and clarinet and contrabassoon representing Beauty and the Beast, not forgetting nifty xylophone (Janet Fulton) and rippling harp (Georgina Wells).

We are fortunate indeed to have a cellist of international standing living right on the edge of the North York Moors. Jamie Walton must have played Elgar’s concerto countless times, but surely never as spellbindingly as this.

He achieved his intensity, paradoxically, through subtle understatement, drawing in his audience with the skill of a practised magician. The opening was steeped in a very English melancholy. The jagged figure at the start of the Allegro spoke volumes about the scherzo to come and Walton’s clarity at the top of his range was startling.

The slow movement was beautifully, mouth-wateringly, spacious. Every rest was made to count, delicately caressed. This kind of playing is risky: it can easily backfire. Not here. Walton was exactly on Elgar’s wavelength, finding solace in an elegant cantilena.

Fireworks, such as they were, came in the finale, but nostalgia was never far from the surface, not least when the work’s opening motto was rekindled just before the close. All the while, the orchestra kept in very crisp attendance, typified by the brass interjections in the finale. I have heard this work dozens of times, but was never quite persuaded of its logic. Until now. The conjunction of two such intelligent musicians as Simon Wright and Jamie Walton delivered an intricate precision that is extremely rare. It will live in the memory.

Inevitably, perhaps, Brahms’s Second Symphony was not going to reach quite this level. But it brought catharsis of a kind, while showcasing the orchestra’s three choirs: strings, winds and brass. Violin ensemble in the first movement had a wonderful sweep, conjuring pastoral moods; they were enhanced by Jonny Hunter’s solo horn. The cumulative effect of this huge movement was majestic. Not to be outdone the cellos, who are in equally fine fettle, took centre stage in an introspective Adagio.

The paint-box of the orchestra, the woodwinds, enjoyed their moment in the spotlight in the Allegretto, sparkling into a sunlit momentum and recapturing it again at the finish after several distractions. Showing admirable stamina, the whole orchestra combined for a finale of exuberant brilliance, reaching a peak when the trombones returned in the coda.

This orchestra is one of the treasures that makes living in York such a delight. Roll on its half century!

Review by Martin Dreyer

York Guildhall Orchestra marks 40th anniversary with special Barbican concert

Cello soloist Jamie Walton. Picture: Wolf Marloh

YORK Guildhall Orchestra will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a special York Barbican concert on February 15.

Almost 40 years to the day from when the orchestra was founded by John Hastie and played in a “one-off” in the York Guildhall in February 1980, the anniversary will be marked with a 7.30pm programme of works and composers from that first concert.

Who could have foretold the amazing journey, reputation, critical acclaim and popularity of the Guildhall group that has developed in the intervening years?

The anniversary concert will begin with the first piece the orchestra played in 1980: Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite (Mere L’Oye), a showpiece for glorious orchestral tunes featuring the talents of the wind section.

This will be followed by the return of soloist Jamie Walton, founder of the North York Moors Chamber Music Festival, for Elgar’s evergreen Cello Concerto.  A celebratory orchestral work by John Hastie will open the second half that will conclude with Brahms’s Symphony No 2 (Symphony In Norahms).

This finale will call on the whole orchestra to do what it loves doing best: play a luxurious, full orchestral work of the Romantic period of classical music.

Tickets cost £6.30 to £17.55 on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office.