MONDAY 4 APRIL 2022 THISWEEKCULTURE.COM
BETHANY ANTONIA: LAVA
Opening at Soho Theatre this week is a really intriguing play that caught my attention the moment I read about it. 'Lava', by award winning playwright James Fritz, is set against the background of a terrible catastrophe - an asteroid has hit London leaving the capital city devastated - and the play itself offers a story of friendship and connection in the aftermath of that disaster. 

It's the work of new writing company Fifth Word, co-produced with Nottingham Playhouse, and has a great cast, comprising Kacey Ainsworth, Dan Parr, Oli Higginson and our interviewee, Bethany Antonia. 

Bethany's clearly a busy performer with stage and screen demands on her time, including a role in upcoming 'Game Of Thrones' prequel 'House Of The Dragon'. Luckily, she was able to fit me in for a quick chat, so I could find out more. 

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'Lava' is on at Soho Theatre from 5-30 Apr. For more information and to book tickets, see this page here.



JENNY BEDE: THE MUSICAL
There's a treat for fans of musical comedy - and one might also say comedy musicals, I think - coming up at Soho Theatre this week, as Jenny Bede heads to the venue with her much acclaimed show 'Jenny Bede: The Musical'. 

It's a comedy hour that made something of a splash up at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, and I suspect more people might have got to see it in the wake of that, had that pesky global pandemic not got in the way. 

We've been fans of Jenny since we first became aware of her comedy work in 2015, so I was quite keen to have a quick chat - to find out more about this show, but also a little about her past and hopes for the future. 

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

Jenny Bede is on at Soho Theatre from 7-9 Apr. See the venue website here for more information and to book tickets.



ANDREW MAPPERLEY AND ELISABETHA GRUENER: MOUTHFUL OF FINGERS
'Mouthful Of Fingers' - which has a short run at the Bread & Roses Theatre this week - called out to me from the off, not least because of the rather interesting and evocative title.

When I investigated further it turned out to be a post-apocalyptic work with a rather Chekhovian plot, which you must admit, sounds rather compelling.

It's the work of new producing company Insecta, and its founders Andrew Mapperley, writer of the play, and Elisabetha Gruener, director. I spoke to them both, to find out more about this emerging company and what to expect from the show. 

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'Mouthful Of Fingers' is on at the Bread & Roses Theatre from 5-7 Apr. For more info and to book tickets, head to the venue website here.


THE SOUND + VISION COMEDY CONFERENCE: MORE SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED!

Don't forget, ThisWeek Culture is teaming up with the Sound + Vision festival and conference in Cambridge this April to curate and host a day of conversations and panels all about the business of comedy in 2022.

We'll be joined by brilliant people from across the comedy community to discuss how you go about pursuing a comedy career today - plus we'll put the spotlight on the key trends, developments and debates in the sector.

Topics set to be covered include:
- Pursuing A Career In Comedy In 2022
- Podcasts, Patreon, YouTube, TikTok And Beyond - Making Comedy Online
- Comedy And Livestreaming - What Next?
- The Future Of The Edinburgh Fringe

Confirmed speakers so far include: Hils Jago from Amused Moose, Lee Griffiths from Soho Theatre, Darrell Martin from Just The Tonic, Lola Oyewole from TikTok, John Harris from Acast, Tom Brandt and Jason Wolfe from NextUp Comedy, Kaiya Milan from The Floor, comedy PR experts Gaby Jerrard and Flick Morris, media and entertainment lawyer Raffaella De Santis, and comedy creators and performers Jay ForemanRobyn PerkinsPete Heat and Kate Smurthwaite.

Sound & Vision is a multi-venue festival and conference taking place in various venues across Cambridge from Thursday 21 Apr to Saturday 23 Apr. The festival will feature over 70 acts - both new and established - from the worlds of music and comedy, while the conference programme will put the spotlight on the music, comedy and creative industries.

CLICK HERE to find out more about the TW curated comedy conference.

CLICK HERE to get tickets for Sound + Vision 2022.
Shows to see in person in London - and online anywhere - including performances from people and companies we first discovered at the Edinburgh Festival.


THREE SHOWS FOR KIDS>>

Easter Tales | Chickenshed | 9-14 Apr
Those of you without children may be wondering why the children's shows are being given top billing today, but those of you with children will not, for you will be very aware that the Easter holidays have begun. That being the case, maybe some small-entertainment tips would be of use? Let's start with an old favourite - Chickenshed's 'Tales From The Shed' - but happening at Easter, and offering some "egg-stra special Easter fun during the holidays". If you've not been before, a bit more info: it's a show suitable for little ones under six who can get involved, singing and dancing, with some lovely stories from fantastic characters. Book yourself in here.

Slime | The Albany/ArtsDepot | 6-7 Apr / 10 Apr (pictured)
"Slug and Caterpillar are starving, and the only leaf left in the garden is just out of reach. Slug thinks they should work together. Get the leaf, eat the leaf, play a game, be friends. Caterpillar has other ideas. Slugs are gross, they're covered in slime and they have terrible taste in music. Things get sticky". This sounds rather fun, doesn't it? It's suitable for small people aged two to five, and is told using just a handful of words - only twelve words, in fact - which are spoken as well as signed. It's also on in two London locations coming up: click here if you'd like to see it at The Albany and here if you'd like to see it at ArtsDepot. And if you're outside London there are further opportunities - The Herd Theatre are calling at Basingstoke, Reading, Folkstone, Farnham, Portsmouth and Isle Of Wight, after their London dates. Tour details here

Plastic Drastic Fantastic | Polka Theatre | 7 Apr-8 May
And finally (for this section, not for family shows, there's more of those recommended below) we head to the lovely Polka Theatre for 'Plastic Drastic Fantastic', a new work from Polka and South Asian dance company Akademi that explores our relationship - "from the molecular to the planetary" - with plastic. The show "draws on stories and ideas from children and young people, disentangling the fantastic possibilities of plastic from the drastic consequences of their misuse", so is tackling some serious stuff but promises to do so in a vibrant and fun way. For more information and to book tickets head to the venue website here.


THREE FUNNY SHOWS>>

Max & Ivanthology | Pleasance Theatre | 5-7 + 26-27 Apr
Hurrah, time for some funny stuff, and we have some genuine treats here. This particular pick is for a number of different shows really, as veteran edfringe - and Edinburgh Comedy Award nominated - duo Max & Ivan do a retrospective of past work, every one of which was, of course, a bit of a hit. Some are happening this week - 'Holmes And Watson', 'Con Artists' and 'The Reunion' - and some are happening later in the month: 'The End', 'Our Story' and 'Commitment'. Each of the performances features a high quality support act, the list of which comprises Chloe Petts, Olga Koch, Nick Helm, Sophie Duker, Ahir Shah and Helen Bauer. See this page here for more info.

Tapped | Theatre503 | 5-23 Apr (pictured)
Next up is 'Tapped' over at Theatre503, which promises to be a heart-warming comedy about the importance of connection, hope and fulfilment, and the management of mental health. "Gavi wants to inspire his community. Which is tricky when everyone would prefer to just stay at home and watch 'Bake Off'. Adamant to succeed, he starts hosting motivational meetings from his garage for his fellow Co-op colleagues. With the help of daily mantras, goal setting and repeatedly listening to Spandau Ballet, he believes he can change their lives for the better. However, when the only two attendees are bickering mother and daughter Dawn and Jen, it's not quite the enlightening experience they all thought it would be". Click here.

Jo And Sam Find Themselves In Woking | Hen & Chickens | 5-23 Apr
"When millennials, Jo and Sam, meet at the Lightbox, they find they have more to discuss than art. But will they stay together as a couple when the world around them is falling apart? Can they find meaning in Woking when it's in such short supply everywhere else?" Another comical play for you, one calling itself a "feisty comedy that's not afraid to tackle the topics that concern us most". It's written by James Woolf, directed by Katherine Reilly, and stars Phoebe Marshall and Kieran Dee, and is brought to you by Olive & Stavros Theatre. That's the company behind 'Empty In Angel', also by James Woolf, which we tipped a while back because it was a great show about couriers on zero hours contracts taking action to improve their working conditions. Anyway, I'll be expecting good things. See this page here.


THREE RUNS STARTING THIS WEEK>>

Dirty Corset | Pleasance Theatre | 5-24 Apr
This is a section that I suppose is really for longer theatrical runs, but this first show would definitely also have fit in the previous section because it will also be very funny - though I should probably warn you upfront about the strong language, partial nudity and scenes of a sexual nature. I know that won't put most of you off, though, especially as it's the work of the award winning Bang Average Theatre and will be really good. Described as "restoration theatre re-imagined", it's set at the end of the seventeenth century, is about a rag-taggle company of actors - Mary Moralless, Isabinda McLovealot and Neil Hasbeen - and tells a "silly, sweaty and bawdy story about desire, the struggle for freedom and queer love". Read more about it here.

The Bone Sparrow | Theatre Peckham | 7-23 Apr (pictured)
"Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention centre after his mother fled the violence of a distant homeland, life behind the fences is all he has ever known. But as he grows, his imagination gets bigger too, until it is bursting at the limits of his world. The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night. Jimmie, a scruffy, impatient girl appears from the other side of the wires, and brings a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it, she relies on Subhi to unravel her own family's love songs and tragedies". An adaptation of Zana Fraillon's children's/young adult book, from the acclaimed Pilot Theatre, whose previous adaptations of 'Noughts & Crosses' and 'Crongton Nights' you may well be aware of. Definitely suitable for older children/teens over the Easter holiday. Read more about the show here.

Another America | Park Theatre | 6-30 Apr
This one might be good for your older teens (aged fourteen plus) if you're looking to occupy them over the next couple of weeks, but you absolutely don't have to have a teenager to go and see this because it's a grown up work (I just mentioned the teens because it's the holidays) and it sounds like a really fascinating piece: "In the wake of an election the consequence of which still threatens to topple democracy as we have come to know it, three friends escape the internet and the real world to ride from Venice California across a country divided by ideologies and economics embarking on a pilgrimage to the Basketball Hall Of Fame in Springfield Massachusetts. By the end of their journey they've discovered not just a different version of themselves but of their country as well". Click here.


THREE SHORT STOPS>>

The Circus Sonas Family Show | Jacksons Lane | 10 Apr
So, short stops, which means you only have a short time to see them. And in the case of this one, you only have the one day to see it, though there are two showings so two chances. Sticking with the overriding theme of 'it's the holidays and you might have young people to keep busy', this is a family circus show (you probably got that from the title) suitable for ages five plus by father and son duo Martin and Logy who promise stunts, juggling tricks, magic tricks and lots of laughter. There are also a couple of other shows on at Jacksons Lane this week that are aimed at children, if you fancy seeing a few things - there's 'Oh No George!' for kids aged three plus, and 'The Not So Ugly Sisters' for ages four plus. Go see them all. Link to 'The Circus Sonas Family Show' here.

Casterbridge | The Space | 5-9 Apr
An adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 'The Mayor Of Casterbridge' that makes some fairly significant changes to the characters and time period, bringing it into contemporary times and focusing the action on female characters. "When she was 21, Mary Henchard stood up in a bar and offered to sell her husband to the highest bidder. She has spent the last twenty years trying to recover. When she was 21, Dearbhla Farfrae bought a one-way ticket to America. The night before she left, she did a good turn by an eccentric financier, and got the luckiest break of her life. Now a middle-aged millionaire, Mary Henchard thinks she has found a protegee to save her business. She has really found the woman who will ruin her life". More here.

Jumper | Lion & Unicorn Theatre | 5-9 Apr (pictured)
"It's 2034, the eve of the general election, and the air is thick with the familiar feelings of hope and despair. A world-wearied train driver winds down from another long shift with a colleague, reflecting on their fall from grace. Meanwhile, in 2029, on the eve of the previous election, a tube unexpectedly breaks down. As the five people in the carriage - a disenfranchised twenty-something, a politician's PA, an expat scientist, a homeless ghost of the last hanged Londoner and a girl who no one knows - realise they are the only ones on board, they are caught up in apocalyptic speculation and new-age conspiracies and are forced to contemplate how they each fit into this group, into London and into this ever-changing country". Very interesting idea for a play and I would really like to see this. Click here.


THREE MORE INTERESTING SHOWS>>

British Resistance Museum | CRYPT | 8-14 Apr
This week's 'mixed bag section' consists of a musical play, a digital show, and something a bit immersive. I know you're probably on tenterhooks about which is which (or not), so I'll go ahead and say that this is the last of those three. CRYPT is a new London venue (though this isn't the first show that's been on there) run by Parabolic Theatre that's dedicated to showing work from emerging and established companies who create immersive stuff, and is (you'll have got it from the name) an atmospheric underground space. 'British Resistance Museum' is a family friendly show (for older kids/teens) that will "tell the alternate history of the British resistance to Nazi occupation during World War Two by giving the audience a tour of the museum dedicated to the British resistance - with a supernatural twist". Read more and book tickets here.

New Moon Monologues | The Space | until 12 Apr
Right, on we go to The Space for 'New Moon Monologues'. Well, not literally or physically, for yes, you've guessed it, this is the digital thing. And what is it? Well, the concept was launched back in 2020 by Grace O'Keefe and Erin Holland as a digital new writing night to platform up and coming artists, before making its way to an actual space - The Space - last summer. For the latest event in March the theme was 'The Witches You Couldn't Burn' and it featured a number of pieces of new writing from emerging as well as established playwrights and performers. And now you can see it on demand, until 12 Apr, which is lovely. See this page here for more.

Say Yes To Tess - A New Musical | Camden People's Theatre | 5-16 Apr (pictured)
"Tess has moved back to Leeds after a break up. Temping at a call centre and trying to survive a frosty house-share, she's feeling lost, until she meets the Yorkshire Party and is inspired to stand in the 2017 UK general election.​ Thrust into the spotlight, Tess takes the Yorkshire Party's passion for people, park & rides and Yorkshire devolution to the streets, finding friends in unlikely places. But with the general election getting ever closer, she starts to question whether she's doing the right thing". This last one is, as promised, a musical show, and it sounds fab - funny, with catchy songs, and inspired by a true story of "activism, Yorkshire grit and learning to vote for yourself". Head this way to book tickets.
At TW:CULTURE we champion the best in fringe theatre, comedy and culture.

Year round, we pick the best shows happening in London and online each week, providing handy Three To See recommendations and interviewing the people behind those productions.

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