Yorkshire Theatre Newsletter: What's On This Week (Jul 23-29)
'Home, I'm Darling' gets the ping. Plus a James Bond mega-star in York (really!) and the best of outdoors and streaming
Last week I found myself chatting to ITV news reporter Kwame Amoah Mensah, as he conducted background research about the great Freedom Day theatre ‘re-opening’.
But as I explained to him — he wasn’t a theatre person, he’s a news reporter — there wasn’t going to be a great theatre re-opening. The re-opening happened, up to a point, in May. July is a time when many theatres are winding down for an August break. Now we can look forward to the Autumn programmes, which are already beginning to go up, but with so many variants around… who can really predict the situation in two or three months’ time?
Meanwhile, legally enforced social distancing in theatre spaces may have ended, but very little in theatreland is back to normal. At least two mainstage shows have fallen victim to the current pingdemic. Six at Hull’s New Theatre has been rescheduled to Apr 5-10 next year due to members of the company testing positive for Covid-19.
And Home, I’m Darling at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough has abruptly closed for the same reason. Performances will recommence on Jul 28, running until Aug 14.
But here’s what is on….
What’s On This Week (Jul 23-29)
Final call for Talent, at Sheffield Theatres. Victoria Wood’s musical comedy set in the foothills of show business is being offered without social distancing on the final night (Jul 24, £15-£29).
Ilkley Playhouse has Lucy Prebble’s The Children with full social distancing in place (see last week’s newsletter for details), and Bingley Little Theatre has Time To Move On, an upbeat musical show which attempts to put the pandemic behind us altogether. Both until Jul 24.
Hull Truck’s big summer show, an outdoor production of Romeo & Juliet, continues at Stage@TheDock starring real-life couple Jordan Metcalfe and Laura Elsworthy doing Shakespeare in their native Hull accents. To Aug 7, £14-26.
And the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield has Walk This Play, a series of location-based audio-dramas created by ThickSkin. The show takes participants on an immersive adventure through the town. To Aug 15, free downloadable app.
Don’t neglect to check out the Sangam Festival, a Kirklees-based celebration of South Asian heritage. The headliner, performing at the Festival Hub in The Piazza, Princess Alexandra Walk, Huddersfield, is comedian Tez Ilyas on Jul 23 (£7) but there are also music and dance performances, workshops and talks. The digital brochure contains interesting stories of first generation immgrants and what brought them to the region. To Aug 17, prices vary.
Star Choice this week has to be superstar Ralph Fiennes performing TS Eliot’s four-part collection of poems, the legendary Four Quartets, at York Theatre Royal. It’s a meditation on time, faith and spiritual enlightenment, written at another time when the world was in crisis. Classy but pricey. Social distancing measures apply. Jul 26-31, £34.
But I have a soft spot for Blow Down by award-winning stage and screenwriter Garry Lyons as my late father, a civil engineer who habitually worked on big construction projects, always had a spring in his step on the days when they were planning to blast through some rock or demolish a cooling tower. A rehearsed reading (over Zoom) of this new play marks the phased demolition of Ferrybridge Power Station, a landmark industrial building of the region, and is based on the stories of people from nearby Knottingley and Ferrybridge. Jul 29, £3.25.
I also have a ticket for Woke at Hull Truck Theatre, which is hosting the Hull Jazz Festival. I’ve been interested in the American civil rights movement since my first year at university, when my radical tutor April Carter put The Autobiography of Malcolm X on my politics reading list. (And thus, unintentionally, inoculated me against ideological excess, I suppose.) This musical show, created by Apphia Campbell and Meridith Yarborough, is based on the real history of Black Panther activist Assata Shakur and makes comparisons with the 2014 Ferguson Riots. Social distancing measures apply. Jul 24, £16 & £6.
Another personal confession: I came back from a terrifying trip to the West Bank during the brutal IDF incursions of late 2001, and tried to write a novel about it. Oh, naivety! At that point I knew very little about anti-semitism. I still don’t, though I have read Phyllis Goldstein’s book A Convenient Hatred, an historial account of the subject. Marlon Solomon’s show Conspiracy Theory: A Lizard’s Tale is a deeply felt autobiographical piece which also deals with some bizarre manifestations of the phenomenon in its contemporary, internet-fuelled form. Slung Low, Leeds, Jul 24, pay what you can
And the final in this trio of performances exploring ulta-serious subjects is Adam Kay’s hugely popular solo show This Is Going To Hurt at Bradford’s Alhambra. The junior doctor, turned writer and performer, delivers tales from the NHS front line along with spoof songs and a joke or two. Social distancing measures apply. Jul 27, £27
Lightening the mood, Anton Du Beke & Giovanni Pernice are at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, with Him & Me! The Strictly professionals are joined by a world-class cast of dancers and singers for a spectacular afternoon show that’s the last word in old-fashioned entertainment. Social distancing measures apply. Jul 25, £39 & £44
Outdoors, there are plenty of choices. Orpheus pops up again at Helmsley Walled Garden, with the ancient tale retold by The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook Theatre in a contemporary guise. Jul 25, £8 & £12
The Pantaloons are at Baysgarth Park, Barton on Humber, with Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It’s a family-orientated show which brings out the magic, mayhem and mystery implicit in the Bard’s late play with puppets and music. Jul 25, free, just turn up
Burton Constable Hall in East Yorkshire has Immersion Theatre’s musical adaptation of Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which sounds like a fine day out to me. Jul 25, £5-£12
And, in what surely must be a punishing schedule, Heartbreak Production’s Mr Stink is at Swinton Bivouac, North Yorkshire, on Jul 27 (phone 01765 680 900 for details), and the Town Hall Courtyard, Middlesbrough, on Jul 28 & 29 (afternoon), £14, and Harewood House on Jul 29 (evening), £11.50-£16.50.
Finally, back indoors again, Magic Mike opens at Bridlington Spa on Jul 29 and continues weeky to Aug 19. It’s a classic seaside variety show for children, with Mike’s puppet friends including naughty Chuck, Oscar the Parrot, Carlos from Brazil and the Hey Presto dancers. £9.35
News And Resources:
Odd Doll’s fascinating-sounding Principles Of Puppetry Workshop is at St Wilfrid’s Church, Harrogate on Jul 25, £18.
And By, For With: Creating Your Own Solo Show, a virtual workshop presented by Rachael Halliwell for Leeds Playhouse seems to have a few tickets left. Jul 29. free
This has to be Chalk Line Theatre performing The Nobodies by Chalk Line at Theatre Deli, Sheffield. It’s the story of three young vigilantes who step over the line into activism in order to stop a hospital closure. It has a clutch of four and five-star reviews and is very near-the-knuckle for me right now as I fight to save our local GP surgery! Sep 2, £13.31-£15.43
That’s almost all for this week, folks! But before I finish, I’ll give a fair warning that after next week (a round-up of the best of August) I’ll be taking a break from weekly newsletters until September.
I’m proud that I haven’t missed a single Thursday edition since I wrote my first newsletter on Christmas Eve 2020. But soon it will be time to rest, regroup, research and come back stronger than ever in the Autumn.
Have a good weekend, everybody! And don’t forget to like, comment and share. It’s the best thing you can do to support the newsletter.