Yorkshire Theatre Newsletter: What's On This Week (Dec 3-9)
Good fairy -- where are you? The evil Omicron is set to ruin Christmas...
Theatre needs the Omicron variant like it needs a hole in the head. And the confused messaging doesn’t help. Who knows what social distancing regulations will apply to mass gatherings in a week or two’s time? I say — go! Go now, when you’ve got the chance. You know those beastly little disease vectors also known as children have had Covid-19 already.
But if you can’t risk attendance at a live event, here are some online offerings that are worth considering:
Northern Broadsides have Beyond These Walls, four short plays by Tennessee Williams delivered in a Yorkshire accent. To Jan 1, £3-£5.
Red Ladder are hosting Smile Club: At Home. Any woman who has invested too much of her sanity in being ‘good’ and ‘nice’ will recognise the issues as Andrea Heaton performs a darkly satirical solo show she co-wrote with Adam Z. Robinson. To Dec 16, £5-£15.
And here are a couple of online things that have been around for a while but which may have slipped your memory:
Wrongsemble's site hosts Stargazer, an online theatrical adventure for families, at £4; the Christmassy Humbug at £4; or both for £7. To Jan 30. Aladdin And The Stolen Stories and The Lost Property Library, both also for kids, are available free.
And Northern Opera’s collaboration with Phoenix Dance Theatre, a Haitian version of the Rite Of Spring choreographed by Jeanguy Saintus is still going strong on the OperaVision platform.
Talking of ‘online’, I finally caught up with Going The Distance. This was the Lawrence Batley Theatre’s latest digital co-creation with Oxford Playhouse, The Dukes in Lancaster and The Watermill Theatre in Berkshire — a form that they have made their own since the pandemic struck.
Co-written by Yasmeen Khan and the Lawrence Batley’s artistic director Henry Filloux-Bennett, it was the bitter-sweet tale of a community theatre teetering on the edge of closure. It wasn’t Chekhov but it was full of nicely observed, character-led humour and resisted the easy temptations of a predictable story arc. Sarah Hadland had a ball as the insufferable Rae, an empire-building marketing manager who occasionally dropped her shallow facade to reveal a woman capable of real heart. And Shobna Gulati was lethal as Vic, a shy-seeming writer who grew increasingly assertive - in a nasty, thuggish sort of way - as the piece progressed.
I loved it. Definitely something more than a stage-bound theatre piece committed to camera, this theatre-digital hybrid is evolving to fill the cultural niche vacated by those early Play For Today TV plays. I hope we haven’t heard the last of digital co-production when social distancing is finally over.
Newcomers to the newsletter — you can read my interview with Henry Filloux Bennett here:
What’s On This Week (Dec 3-9):
Boris wants us all to have a good knees-up this Christmas but he said that last year and then slammed on the brakes. Maximum havoc, maximum damage. Deja vu all over again.
But if you’re in a mood to be optimistic, here we go:
Beauty And The Beast: The Rock’n’Roll Panto is a raucous effort at Leeds’ City Varieties. As well as lively renditions of well-known rock anthems, the production features all sorts of whizz-bangs — so it isn’t suitable for very young children. To Jan 9, £14-30
Across town at The Carriageworks, Aladdin 2021 stars Manchester drag queen Anna Phylactic as Widow Twankee. Things go downhill rapidly from there. But don’t worry, it’s still a family-friendly traditional effort. To Jan 9, £10-£21.
CAST Doncaster’s Aladdin is a colourful show with fully integrated British sign language. Mark Stratton dons a series of increasingly preposterous outfits as the Dame and Princess Jasmine (Alyce Liburd) wants to be an engineer. To Dec 31, £18-£21.
Middlesbrough Theatre has Peter Pan, an old-school effort that boasts an authentic third-rate TV celebrity in Mark Little (Joe Mangle from Australian soap Neighbours) as Captain Hook. Britain’s Got Talent veteran Philip Green is the boy who never grew up. Dec 3-31, £21 & £22.50.
Whereas the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough is putting its faith in good writing. Nick Lane wrote the script for Jack And The Beanstalk and the cast consists of people you probably haven’t heard of who can act. Dec 3-31, £10-£22.
I have press tickets for Cinderella at York Theatre Royal, and will be taking my Latvian photographer friend Irita along with me to see what she makes of this baffling British phenomenon. So, apart from noting that Berwick Kaler is now with Qdos at York Opera House), more of that next week. Dec 3-Jan 2, £15-£42
And Sheffield Theatres are opening a lavish production of Sleeping Beauty which has once again this year been written and directed by Paul Hendy and produced by Evolution. Benidorm’s Janine Duvitski is the Good Fairy and Lucas Rush is an intriguingly camp Carabosse. Dec 3-Jan 3, £15-£38.
News And Resources:
The biggest news is that Theatre Deli have been given notice that they will have to leave their current home on Eyre Street in Sheffield. They’ve taken on plenty of short leases in the past but this notice to quit has taken them by surprise. They are now looking for another venue in the city.
East Riding Theatre in Beverley have launched a Time Travellers’ Theatre Trail App. The outdoor audio trail is free and allows listeners to travel into the town’s past, meet local characters, and discover what the town’s theatrical life looked like in times gone by. Search for it in the App Store or Google Play.
And Sheffield Theatres are looking for directors, writers, producers and creatives of other disciplines to form The Bank Cohort 2022. Successful applicants will receive support and development opportunities based on their discipline, with tailored mentoring from industry professionals working at Sheffield Theatres. The application window closes at 10am on Monday 6 December.
Middle Child are staging Rapunz'ull: Rock'n'Roll Hull Panto at The Social in Hull Old Town. It’s set at Hull Fair (one of the largest fairs in Europe) and is ‘a helter skelter take on the classic fairy tale’. Dec 16-24, £10.50-£16.50
That’s all for this week, folks! Take care!