Yorkshire Theatre Newsletter: What's On This Week (Sep 17-23)
Oh Look, They've Come For Chubby Brown. Plus The Yorkshire Premiere Of A New Dance Work By Matthew Bourne.
I would rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon than watch a gig by blue comedian Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown. If you want an old-fashioned joke involving a nun, a flying helmet and diarrhea, he’s your man. But, I’ll be honest, it’s not my cup of tea.
That’s not the point.
His show at Sheffield City Hall, a venue he’s been playing for more than 30 years, has been axed by the moral gatekeepers of our new priestly class. It’s particularly disheartening that Sheffield’s ‘City Of Sanctury’ status is being put forward as the excuse. Sheffield is a tolerant, welcoming city and if they want to provoke ordinary residents into resenting asylum-seekers it’s difficult to imagine a more direct route than by using them to ban a popular and revered performer who most middle-class people can’t stand.
Councillor Terry Fox, leader of Sheffield City Council, then burnished his ‘utter dimbo’ credentials by citing council funding as another reason. He told YorkshireLive: “Going forward, Sheffield City Trust has assured us that they will consider whether acts are appropriate before bookings are taken.”
But people have widely differing opinions about what is ‘appropriate’ and, just as in this Newsletter I highlight many different sorts of theatrical performance (some created from standpoints I don’t agree with at all), the City Hall’s programming should reflect this. If Chubby Brown has broken the law, let him face the penalty. If he hasn’t, then leave the poor man alone.
It’s called ‘freedom’. It’s what asylum seekers came here to find. (Though maybe not a foul-mouthed man in a flying helmet specifically.)
You can sign the petition here.
See him at Whitby Pavilion on Oct 2, £22, The Forum, Northallerton Dec 11 & 12, £24, Phoenix Theatre, Castleford, Dec 19, tbc, Hull City Hall. Hull, Jan 6, £24, The Barbican, Jan 7, £28.10, The Dome, Doncaster, Feb 18, £24, Middlesbrough Town Hall, May 27, £24.
What’s On This Week (Sep 17-23)
This weekend is your final chance to catch Alan Ayckbourn’s The Girl Next Door on download. The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough is streaming his 85th full-length play until midnight on Sunday Sep 19, £12-£20.
Theatrical history of a different kind was made by Stephen Mallatratt’s The Woman in Black, which has been terrifying audiences at the Fortune Theatre in London’s West End for three decades. Based on a ghost story by Susan Hill, it takes place on a deceptively low-budget set which had its origins in the bar of the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Now it returns briefly to Yorkshire as a UK touring production. Grand Opera House, York, to Sep 18, £13-£43.
There are a couple of other highly regarded touring productions to choose from:
The award-winning Heathers brings teen angst and serial murder to Sheffield Lyceum (to Sep 18, £15-£45, see previous newsletters for details)
And five-star Waitress presents Lucie Jones as Jenna, an expert pie-maker whose dreams of romance are complicated by the arrival of a new doctor in town. Grand Theatre, Leeds, to Sep 18, £20.50-£49.
Last May, just ahead of their 2021 tour, I interviewed Mikron Theatre’s Pete Toon about how, in a year of Covid disruption, they were preparing for their upcoming touring programme.
Now, approaching the end of their long summer tour, you can join Kate Saffrin online as she talks to Mikron’s artistic director Marianne McNamara and writer Poppy Hollman about how it all went. Sep 17, free (donations welcome).
Turning to some smaller productions, Sheffield’s Third Angel take their installation The Desire Paths to York this Friday and Saturday. Passers-by will be invited to rename the streets in the city after some hope, dream or ambition. They can add these to a map of York that has been chalked out on the flagstones. Exhibition Square (outside the Art Gallery), Sep 17 & 18, free.
Up at Britain’s most complete 18th-century playhouse, the Georgian Theatre, Richmond, Daniel Rover Singer’s A Perfect Likeness imagines what took place when celebrity Victorian novelist Charles Dickens visited the mightily odd Charles Dodgson at his home in Oxford to have his photograph taken. Dodgson, of course, is better known as Lewis Carroll, author of Alice In Wonderland. Sep 17, £15.
Catch the last, magical days of summer with Three Inch Fools and their musical version of Shakespeare’s comedy The Merry Wives Of Windsor at RSPB Dearne Valley Old Moor near Barnsley. Sep 18, £0-£16.50
If improv’s your thing, Open Heart Theatre present Let's Make It Up To You at Theatre Deli, Sheffield on the same night. It’s a good-value programme of sketches, responses to audience suggestions and the spontaneous creation of a comic play. Sep 18, £5.
And The Unremarkable Death Of Marilyn Monroe is at The Carriageworks, Leeds. Written and directed by Elton Townend Jones, this award-winning solo show is performed by Lizzie Wort and tells of the Hollywood legend’s final hours as she lies dying from overdose whilst plagued by a mystery caller. Sep 20, £12 & £14.
Later in the week, there’s the Yorkshire premiere of choreographer Matthew Bourne's The Midnight Bell at Sheffield Lyceum. Bourne is most famous for his all-male Swan Lake. This piece is based on the work of cult novelist Patrick Hamilton, who wrote the legendary theatrical thrillers Rope and Gas Light, and is set in the seedy world of 1930s Soho and Fitzrovia. Sep 20-25, £15-£45.
And, by a happy chance, if this whets your appetite for more of this author — whose star is on the rise — Mark Farrelly’s biographical solo show The Silence Of Snow is on at the Georgian Theatre, Sep 23, £15 and Ropery Hall, Barton-on-Humber, Oct 14, £13 & £15.
Continuing the 1930s theme (funny, that) don’t neglect this little gem: The Ballad Of Johnny Longstaff at Hull Truck Theatre. If I told you it was the story of a boy who gatecrashed a Hunger March, took part in the anti-fascist Battle of Cable Street in London’s East End and ran away to the Spanish Civil War, you’d assume it was made-up. It isn’t. Teesside folk trio The Young’uns have set an incredible life to music based on recordings and documents made available by Longstaff’s family. Sep 22-25, £15-£28.50.
Head to the glorious Grand Theatre, Leeds, for an enticing Opera North-Phoenix Dance collaboration in the form of a Leonard Bernstein double bill. The satirical Trouble In Tahiti brings jazz, musical theatre and the movies together with his trademark sophistication. The Symphonic Dances consists of numbers extracted from West Side Story. Choreographer Dane Hurst has created a new dance work from the piece. Oct 16, 20, 22, 29, 30, £10-£77.50.
Finally, a couple of Yorkshire Theatre Newsletter things to look out for. I’m on Chat And Spin Radio again tonight (Thursday). They asked me back! 8.20pm, UK time.
And watch out for my upcoming interview with singer and actress Eddy Queens, which should drop early next week. This is ahead of the Slits musical Typical Girls opening at Sheffield Theatres. Her life is a hope-giving tale of hard knocks, getting up again, and finding the courage not to be limited by the labels other people place on us. It’s certainly food for thought.