9 ways to get cultured in May

Maureen Lipman in My Mother Said I Never Should

Maureen Lipman in My Mother Said I Never Should

Oh well hello there.

We’ve popped out at the end of the Bank Holiday and have just 4 days left before it’s Saturday again and we can watch Thundercats in our pyjamas. (Is Thundercats even on any more?)

I’ve been away in Brighton these past few days with LM… holing up in a gorgeous airbnb flat, strolling down to the sea, eating ice cream and recharging our batteries.

Sixty Four Degrees

Sorry for the quiet – it’s been a bit all go over here. We’re trying to move house and the last few months have been testing to say the least… but after a little stint by the sea, breakfast at V and H Cafe and dinner at 64 Degrees last night, we are READY to crack on and will keep our fingers crossed for all things good.

I do find that when the chips are down (what does that mean?) and you’re feeling bit long in the tooth (no idea) there is nothing better than to exercise (oops) eat good food (tick) and immerse yourself utterly in the wonder of theatre, art, discussion and music. And I am lucky that I don’t have to dig too deep to find these things – London has them in abundance and the month of May is packed to the hilt with brilliant stuff to see…

So here are just a few of my picks for this month.

And I for one, shall be sitting in the front row, not thinking about silly house stuff and will lose myself in these magical worlds…

See you there xx

Circa - Closer

Acrobatic artists Dan O’Biren (top), Kimberely O’Brien and Jarred Dewey (bottom) perform during a rehearsal of the world premiere of “Closer” performed and presented by Australian circus company Circa at the Udderbelly Festival on the South Bank, London, UK April 13, 2016. The show is on until June 12.
Photograph : © Luke MacGregor – luke@lukemacgregor.com

Circa: Closer
Udderbelly Festival at Southbank Centre, Jubilee Gardens, London SE1 8XX
Thursday 7th April – Sunday 12th June 

Internationally acclaimed, multi-award winning circus company Circa return to London for their longest season to date.  These five astounding performers reveal breath-taking, up-close acrobatics in this elegant and intimate encounter.  I don’t think I’ll be trying any of this at home but this beautiful show is a must-see.  The acrobats take everyday objects, like chairs, that we normally don’t even consider and use them to create engaging, sophisticated fun right in front of us.  Closer has been made just for the fabulous ‘upside down purple cow’ that graces the South Bank every summer so there aren’t that many opportunities to catch this one.


My Mother Said I Never Should
St. James Theatre, 12 Palace Street, London SW1E 5JA
Wednesday 13th April – Saturday 21st May

There can be no denying that Maureen Lipman is a national treasure and it’s a treat to see her on stage.  Here she’s joined by Olivier-award winning Katie Brayben.  This fantastic play by Charlotte Keatley hasn’t been seen in London in over 25 years.  It’s a moving exploration of the relationships between mothers and daughters and the consequences of breaking the most sacred taboo of motherhood.  This powerful story is about the choices we make which determine the course of our lives and how it is never too late to change.


Blue on Blue

Blue on Blue

Blue On Blue
Tristan Bates Theatre, 1a Tower Street, London WC2H 9NP
Tuesday 19th April – Saturday 14th May 

Blue On Blue is a visceral, poignant and darkly funny play by novelist and screenwriter Chips Hardy. This witty and moving drama examines the subtleties and vagaries of self-harm and co-dependency.  Yes it’s a serious play but that’s the whole point – it tackles important questions that are all too easily shied away from, relating not least to the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen and ex-offenders.


NZAHT Shackleton's hut interior

NZAHT Shackleton’s hut interior

The world’s most extreme conservation project: saving Shackleton’s and Scott’s Huts
Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR
Wednesday 25th May, 7pm (doors open at 6.30pm)

The restoration of Shackleton’s and Scott’s Huts is an extraordinary conservation story about a remarkable place and people.  Nigel Watson travels from New Zealand to describe the painstaking story to ensure that these sites remain a cultural marker of a heroic journey.  When you hear the stories about bottles of whisky found buried underneath Shackleton’s hut, you find an amazing personal connection to the people who occupied these dwellings.  The restoration of these huts challenges our notions of heritage and connects to global issues, such as climate change, that are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.



Blind Man's Song, Edinburgh Fringe 2015, courtesy Francois Verbeek 2

Blind Man’s Song, Edinburgh Fringe 2015, courtesy Francois Verbeek 2

Blind Man’s Song
Pleasance London, Carpenters Mews, North Road, London N7 9EF
Wednesday 27th April – Sunday 15th May

Imagine not being able to see…  Critically-acclaimed Theatre Re’s Blind Man’s Song looks at the power of the body to communicate and one man’s rage against his world of darkness.  It blends together physical theatre, mime, sound and illusion.  As an old blind man takes unsteady steps around a room, he recalls an encounter that triggers his memories and imagination and a story of love, courage and hope unfolds.  The staging of this show is really incredible with a complex live soundscape created from a loop pedal, a violin and a rolling piano.




Jelly Beans
Theatre503, The Latchmere, 503 Battersea Park Road, London SW11 3BW
Thursday 10th – Saturday 14th May

From the director of Theatre503’s recently acclaimed BU21 comes Jelly Beans. Dan Pick’s first full-length play is a brutally honest, hilarious and pitch-black confessional about what happens when every axiom of your life turns out to be a lie.  His fresh and exciting writing reveals first-hand the story of a momentous day in the life of a young man teetering on the brink of self-destruction. As his drab existence is shattered by a violent attack and an escapist binge that sees him running from painful memories and present dangers, can a self-proclaimed hero save himself from oblivion?  www.theatre503.com

Tamla Kari and Michael Socha (courtesy Rekha Garton)

Tamla Kari and Michael Socha (courtesy Rekha Garton)

This Is Living
Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY
Tuesday 17th May – Saturday 11th June 2016

You’re bound to recognise the stars of this exciting new show – Michael Socha (E4’s The Aliens, This is England) and Tamla Kari (BBC’s The Musketeers, The Inbetweeners Movie).  It’s a poignant and relatable exploration of what it means to say goodbye.   Dealing with themes of loss, grief and heartache, this intimate portrayal of a relationship forces us to examine our own lives.  With only the simplest of lighting, the couple skilfully flit between the past and eerily into the present where their thoughts stay with us long after the curtain has closed.


Rory Biddulph preparing for XL Catlin Art Prize in his studio, London April 2016 v2 colour by Aaron Hammond low res

Rory Biddulph preparing for XL Catlin Art Prize in his studio, London April 2016 v2 colour by Aaron Hammond

XL Catlin Art Prize 2016
Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DP
Thursday 5th – Sunday 22nd May 2016

Celebrating its 10th year, this amazing curated exhibition is now firmly established as a prestigious showcase for early-career artists, providing them with the opportunity to realise ambitious and exciting new projects.  Although there’s a panel of judges to decide the main prize, visitors will also have their say in the Visitor Vote. Ballots cast at the Londonewcastle Project Space will determine the winner of this £2,000 award.


The Local Stigmatic - William Frazer & James Wilson - Photo by Joel Bodin 4

The Local Stigmatic – William Frazer & James Wilson – Photo by Joel Bodin

The Local Stigmatic
Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, London EC1V 4NJ
Tuesday 3rd – Saturday 28th May 2016

For its 50th anniversary, The Local Stigmatic is finally back on our stages.  You may have seen it as the film with Al Pacino?  It’s a sinister, deeply disturbing study of psychosis, fame, obsession and envy. Darkly comical at times, it reveals society’s fascination with ‘celebrity’ and the resentment it can provoke.  In our celebrity obsessed culture, The Local Stigmatic seems as relevant as ever as it foreshadows the ‘fan culture’ that is now omnipresent.


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