MONDAY 17 MAY 2021 THISWEEKCULTURE.COM
JULIA SAMUELS AND JAMES CAST: TOUCHY
You may remember that we recently urged you to check out 'Touchy' from 20 Stories High, a collection of five theatrical films being released on a weekly basis. Well, the first one is out and we are really looking forward to seeing the remaining four instalments.

I was so intrigued by the project, I decided to find out more about its themes, the process of creating it, and who was involved in making the work.

I spoke to two members of the creative team: Julia Samuels, writer and co-director on 'Ella & Ste's Story', and James Cast, co-creator and performer of 'Max's Story'.

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'Touchy' is released in five weekly instalments. You can see the first one now, and find more information about the upcoming films, on the 20 Stories High website here.
Some COVID restrictions are lifting in England this week meaning we have lots of in-person shows to tip in this bulletin - but plenty of online experiences too, many featuring performers and companies we first enjoyed at the Edinburgh Fringe.


THREE LIVE THEATRE THINGS>>

Shaw Shorts | Orange Tree Theatre | 22 May-4 Jun
Buckle your seatbelts/ready your travel cards/gird your calf muscles, because it's increasingly time to get out there and view some culture in an actual venue. Though I will warn you that tickets for these live events are selling very quickly. And, in fact, I had quite a lot of stuff on the list to tip this week that I had to summarily drop because they sold out before I got to even mention them. So, book soon if you want to see Orange Tree Theatre's 'Shaw's Shorts', a double bill of Bernard Shaw plays comprising 'How He Lied To Her Husband' and 'Overruled'. There are, though, a couple of live stream dates, if you're not quite ready to join the masses. Head this way for more information and to get your tickets sorted.

Shylock | The Playground Theatre | 21-22 May
Fringe fans of long standing may well remember 'Shylock', which was staged for the first time at the Edinburgh Festival of 1997. Written and performed by Gareth Armstrong, it explores the world of one of Shakespeare's most well known characters, examining religious and racial intolerance as well as looking at the history of plays in performance and celebrating the well loved language used by the bard. Described as "tragic, funny and often unbelievable", it's a piece that won huge acclaim from the outset, and toured more than fifty countries in the decade after its premiere. See more here.

Romeo & Juliet | Greenwich Theatre | 21-22 May (pictured)
This sounds fun. And yes, I am saying that about a production called 'Romeo & Juliet'. It is from the fabulous HandleBards, though, which probably explains it. "Three actors cooped up together during lockdown. Fuelled by cabin fever and with a bookshelf full of Shakespeare, they did what they do best and created an unhinged and bonkers, laugh-out-loud version of 'Romeo & Juliet'. With music, mayhem and more costume changes than you can shake a spear at, expect the HandleBards' usual irreverent, charming and hilarious style to come bursting onto the stage at Greenwich Theatre. Forget the tears and tragedy, and get ready for some live and wired Shakespeare as you've never seen it before". Details here.


THREE LIVE COMEDY THINGS>>

Monkey Business Comedy Club | 23 May
There was quite a bit of live in person in London comedy to choose from last week, even though only one day's worth fell into our tipping dates. But this week? Why there are absolute swathes of it, perhaps almost pre-pandemic levels. How am I supposed to choose? Well, I suppose I have to think back to how I made these choices before COVID-19 ruined everything, but it feels such a long time ago and I can barely remember. I do know, however, that Monkey Business Comedy Club has a cracking line up for 23 May, so I thought we would start there. We are very big fans of the headliner, TW Editors' Award winner Patrick Monahan, as well as other acts involved. Read about it here.

Some Night In Soho | 21 Soho | 21 May
Just going to mention, given that I haven't made it clear before, that all the live shows are still happening in a socially distanced manner, which is one of the reasons - other than audiences' eagerness - why stuff is selling out so quickly, and the same is as true of comedy as of any other show, so don't delay booking if you are up for seeing a live show. Here's our second comedy choice for the week, taking place at 21 Soho and featuring another great line up, namely: Joanne McNally, Elliot Steel, Inel Tomlinson and Abi Clarke. See this page here to book.

Kai Samra: Underclass | Soho Theatre | 19 May, 5, 9, 16, 24 Jun (pictured)
This is Kai Samra's much acclaimed 2019 debut show, resurrected for performance now in preparation for a recording of it, and it's very much worth seeing, so do grab the chance if you can. "Join Kai as he dissects life as a young, working class, British Asian in the 21st Century. He reflects on personal stories of homelessness, the gentrification of the arts and the rise of right-wing politics in his home town…until an interview with the former EDL leader Tommy Robinson changes everything". All the info and booking links right about here.


THREE THEATRICAL ONLINE PRODUCTIONS>>

Waiting For Lefty | Two Lines Productions | 18-23 May
You will, I am sure, remember how last week we spoke to Lisa Caruccio Came about Two Lines Productions' upcoming staging - via Zoom - of Clifford Odets' 1935 play 'Waiting For Lefty', and be assured that it's going to be great. Well, if you haven't booked your tickets yet, you need to get on with it because it's on this week. It's all about standing up to inequality and exploitation, tackling fair pay and workers' rights, and it's still very relevant to the now, and is a great fit for the digital format. Plus, there are panel events accompanying the show, and it's generally all rather promising. Book here.

Lovefool | The Space | 21-22 May
"What if the last time you dated, you were doused in Impulse body spray and The Spice Girls were at number one? Finding a phwoar-some trouser-shape to replace her ex-husband won't be easy, so Rachel's dusting off her Sugar magazines and taking inspiration from the 90s to get what she wants, what she really, really wants". This is a show that threatens to "make you laugh, make you cry, and make you question why we groom teenage girls to meet the patriarchy's expectations of femininity," which is fine by me. Oh, and actually, this is a show that you might also be able to see in the flesh if tickets remain. See this page here for the livestream and this page here to really, physically attend.

Like There's No Tomorrow | Belgrade Theatre | 19 May-13 Jun (pictured)
This production from Coventry's Belgrade Theatre has been created by the company's youth group for National Theatre Connections, and was originally devised back in March 2020, ahead of our difficult locked down year, and gives voice to young people's concerns about climate change. "There are strange cracks appearing in the land on the other side of the world, turning habitats into wastelands and creating a new wave of climate refugees. But no one's worrying about that here - where a mayoral candidate is promising more, more, more. It's what the people want. Apart from Maru that is, who can't breathe". Details here.


THREE MORE LIVE PERFORMANCE TIPS>>

Amalgam | The Space | 17 May-6 Jun (pictured)
Actually, I am not sure, having placed this in a 'live performance' section, that it really fits. But what is true is that this is a thing you get to leave your house for, so I'll allow it to stay here. And it's a really interesting thing: earlier this year The Space commissioned three playwrights to create work inspired by the visual art of Rosemary Burn, and now you are invited to view the paintings at the venue whilst listening to the plays created in response to them. Those of you outside the capital can still experience this though, as the plays and the paintings are being made available online. Click here to find out lots more info.

Meat Cute | Chiswick Playhouse | 20 May+23 Jun
"A woman is on a mission to find the perfect candidate. Tinder. Vegans. Apple juice. Will she ever swipe right? Fourteen dates later, a broken family, a Pomeranian named Mozart and an eviction notice, is this rebellion or simply a cry for help? 'Meat Cute' asks: how does a 23-year-old woman navigate a world governed by masculinity and violence, and, how far is too far". Another interesting show over at Chiswick Playhouse, and one that looks like it's selling out quickly, so don't dally. Click here.

Fringe Futures Festival | Pleasance Theatre / Vault Festival | 24 May-25 Jun
Okay, so, this is a fairly big festival of stuff, but only a very small part is happening during this week. I thought if I left it until next week everything might start selling out, so I thought the best thing to do was to give you a heads up about the fact that it's incoming, so you can take a look at what's on offer and make forward plans about what you might like to see. There's theatre, comedy, spoken word, cabaret and circus, workshops and works in progress. So for the Pleasance line up see this page here and for the Vault line up see this page here.


THREE MORE THINGS TO TAKE IN ONLINE>>


Humane | True Name Theatre | 11 May-15 Jun
Right, enough of leaving the house, time for more culture in your own home, and something rather good for you to listen to. 'Humane' is a six part drama about protests, motherhood and how our values can unite and divide us, telling a story about animal rights and protesting police brutality. Written by Polly Creed and starring a very experienced cast, each episode is being released on a weekly basis via different venues: the first episode is hosted via Pleasance Theatre and can be accessed here. You can read more about the series on the True Name Theatre company's website here.

Lydia | The Space | 23 May
Another audio drama, this one by Chalk Roots Theatre and featuring a post show Q&A. It explores some really interesting themes: "Lydia has come from nothing and enters a family of three. She is gifted. Articulate. New. High hopes are placed on her future. And yet she never reaches her destination. Lydia is a story of a young woman growing up, shaped entirely by the voices around her. Told by an unseen presence, able to only whisper but not change anything, this audio drama explores how and why people end up living lives they never wanted to - and what it takes to rediscover the path forgotten". More here.

Perth Festival | 20-29 May
And so to our last recommendation this week, and it's another for a whole festival, the near half-century old Perth Festival, which this year is mostly happening online. And is also mostly (though not all) musical stuff, with some big names lined up to perform - the likes of The Sixteen, The Gesualdo Six, Fergus McCreadie Trio, Isata Kanneh-Mason and Nicola Benedetti. You can access events individually, or you can buy passes for all online events, or a classical concert series pass. See the festival website here to read all about it.
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