Things to do
The silent disco phenomenon reaches new heights at these exclusive Time Out events. Pick your channel and choose your side as three DJs battle it out over separate wireless channels, playing the best in pop, rock and party classics, while you dance the night away at 1,000ft. The View from The Shard is the visitor attraction at the top of Western Europe's tallest building, The Shard. With unparalleled, panoramic views, it offers visitors a unique perspective on the capital.
Discover the legacy of the remarkable Nelson Mandela in this very special exhibition that focuses on his important contribution to the Anti-Apartheid movement. There'll be exclusive unseen film, photos and over 150 historical artefacts on loan from the Mandela family on display.
Dabbers at the ready because Players Bingo is taking over the beautiful Mecca Bingo Hall in Camden and will be bringing bingo back in a totally new way. It's the same old bingo you know and love, but not as you know it. There'll be a few twists and turns along the way; big prizes up for grabs, a hilarious host, delicious pop-up restaurants, mixologists, live music and entertainment. Did someone say two fat ladies?
Build up your calves and your brain on this run through spray can-strewn east London. Spot works by Banksy, Zabou, Phlegm and more as you pound the pavements and learn all about their art and inspirations along the way. Don't worry, there's plenty of rest breaks.
You'll have to haul yourself out of bed at an ungodly hour for the London Smoke and Cure Guided Tour, but it'll be well worth it for this guided sneak-peek at meaty Smithfield Market and fresh fish-filled Billingsgate Market as trading reaches its peak. Just think about all the juicy bacon butties and envy-inducing fish dishes you'll be able to make from your haul at these iconic London institutions.
Scare yourself senseless at one of East London Film Festival's horror showings in a real-life Masonic Temple. The monthly showings kick off with Ari Aster's terrifying ‘Hereditary’ (a real skin crawler) and includes screenings of classics such as the OG ‘The Omen’ and ‘The Shining’.
Sick of your landlord and the state of your rented digs? Join journalist and housing campaigner Vicky Spratt, whose Make Renting Fair campaign saw letting fees banned, at this discussion about what’s next for UK renters. She’ll be joined by Generation Rent’s Hannah Slater, consumer journalist Laura Whately and co-author of ‘The Rent Trap’ Samir Jeraj who’ll be talking housing policy and dishing out tips and practical advice.
Why sit in a stuffy cinema when you can spend the evening in a beautiful barn watching films surrounded by cute farmyard animals at Oasis Farm Waterloo? Arrive early to get first dibs on the marshmallows then settle in for ‘Unbranded’, an award-winning doc about a group of men who decide it’s a good idea to trek across America with a team of wild horses. A bar and street food will keep you fed and watered throughout. Animal lovers, horse riders and anyone who doesn’t mind swapping a reclining leather seat for a hay bale will love this new one from Secret Adventures.
Experience one of our signature silent discos at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium. Don a pair of glowing headphones and tune into one of three channels as you immerse yourself in the world of water. Tickets are just £29 and include the silent disco, welcome drink and guided tours of the brand new jellyfish exhibition.
You crafty so and so. Want to get your mitts on heaps of gorgeous gifts? Well, the Crafty Fox Market is a great place to start and they're going all out this May Bank holiday. Whether you're after original homeware or artwork, cards and handmade toys, you're sure to find something special even for those that are notoriously hard to buy for. See the full list of traders here.
The kids version of this popular pop-up cinema outfit doesn't disappoint. This year's event takes place during half-term in Dulwich Park, before moving to Hampton Court Palace for the summer. Weather dependent (obvs) it not only gets your little ones out the house but keeps them (and you) entertained, too. For more information and listings visit www.lunakidscinema.com.
Immersive film aficionados Secret Cinema have pulled out the big guns for their summer season and it’s 007-flavoured extravaganza. While the location is, of course, hush hush, you can be sure to expect all the experiential cinema mastery that has made Secret Cinema one of London's most sought after experiences. The film, ‘Casino Royale’, is, of course, the best of the Daniel Craig-era Bonds and will offer some fantastic fancy-dress opportunities for Secret Cinema-ees. You can slip into some super-tight swimming trunks – gym work may be required for that one – dry-clean your chicest tux, or just turn up as a giant ‘M’. Prices start at £49 and go all the way up to (gulp) £175, excluding booking fees. Head to the official site for all the info.
Hosted in various locations around London (and the rest of the UK), the Royal Opera House BP Big Screen is your chance to catch some jaw-dropping ballet and opera for free! Bring your mates, a picnic and soak up the classics. For a full list of locations and screening times, visit www.roh.org.uk
Let's get ready to rumble this May bank holiday! Celebrate London's best margaritas at the Margarita Rumble. A bottomless tequila fiesta that brings 15 specially curated bars and restaurants and their top mixologists compete for the prestigious title of London’s best Margarita and vote for who you think should wear the crown. While you sip your tipples, there'll be a traditional mariachi band, dancing day of the dead skeletons and DJs providing the entertainment. Tequila experts will be on hand for masterclasses in the hard stuff, which you can soak up with grub from 1251 head chef and owner James Cochran.
The pro-kidult-pleasers behind The Monster at Alexandra Palace are back. Get ready to navigate this 300-metre long and 40 hazzards-deep giant inflatable obstacle course. See if you can beat the wobble (and tackle the 18 metre-long mega slide), before thrashing around in a unicorn ballpit. One lap of the course should take about 20 minutes then you can fill up on craft beer, cocktails and street food. This year there's also a whole host of activities to keep you entertained including Boozy Bingo (old school bingo but with impromptu dance-offs), Drag Queen Karaoke, beer pong tables and glitter stations.
Whistle Punks, the first UK-based axe throwing experience turns three next month! To celebrate they're offering heavily discounted tickets on May 14 from £3 (full price sessions are normally £22-25). Tickets go on sale today here, but be quick as they're expected to sell out quickly. Happy throwing!
Be transported from Camden to the Hollywood hills with Backyard Cinema, whose theme this summer is LA Nights. With sing-a-long beach parties, cocktails, palm trees and a spectacular selection of films, you’ll feel totally west coast by the end of the evenings. Films on offer include ‘The Greatest Showman Sing-a-Long’, ‘A Star is Born’, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and ‘Dirty Dancing’. For more information and screening times, visit www.backyardcinema.co.uk
In the words of Olivia Newton-John ‘Let's get Physical’ at Hackney Festival of Fitness. The massive three-dayer in Hackney Marshes will bring plenty of fitness fun to East London including the annual Hackney half-marathon, free exercise classes, a 5k community run and heaps more activities where you'll be able to hear your body talk.
Missed the recent sold-out ‘Letters Live’ run at Union Chapel? Don't panic – the night, co-produced by a certain Benedict Cumberbatch, has just announced its biggest show yet and will be coming to the Royal Albert Hall this autumn. The evening pairs amazing performers from the world of showbiz with remarkable literary correspondence and celebrates the power of the letter – something the email has yet to challenge. The event's line-up is kept under wraps until the night, but previous readers have included Olivia Colman, Gillian Anderson, Sir Ian McKellen and Thom Yorke. Bag a ticket now to avoid disappointment.
Controversial astrologist Nicholas Culpeper gave lovely Spitalfields gastropub The Culpeper its name, and these rooftop stargazing sessions are in his honour. An astronomy expert will be your guide, providing and introduction over natural wines and food before heading up to the rooftop greenhouse to try the telescopes and drink hot booze from the rooftop bar.
It might have been knocked from its heady heights as the world’s tallest ferris wheel – you’ll have to head to Las Vegas for that – but the London Eye remains an iconic part of the London skyline. Snap-happy tourists arrive here in their droves, so be prepared to queue for one of the spacious 25-person pods. Once you’re airborne, take in those far-reaching views of the Thames and beyond. On a clear day, you might even see if the Queen’s opened the curtains at Buck House.
What was once a prosaic council building on the South Bank is now full to the brim with sharks, penguins and other water-loving wildlife, thanks to this world-class, world-famous aquarium. The finned predators prowling the Shark Walk are a definite highlight, as are the billowing jellyfish in the fairly recent Ocean Invaders addition. This is the perfect place to keep the sprogs entertained on a morning or afternoon.
The Warner Brothers studio may be way out west, but it’s worth the trip to see the magic of the Boy Who Lived come alive – and to try a flagon of butterbeer, too.
You know how Instagram makes everything look prettier in photos than IRL? Well, you don’t need to worry about that with the Queen’s pad, which is a stunner in the flesh as well as all those postcards. All year round, you can take a gander at pieces from the Royal Collection at the Queen’s Gallery, while from February to November you can check out the Queen’s horses in the Royal Mews.
As long as you leave plenty of ticket-collecting time, your trip to the Tower of London should be a blast. It starts with a 50-minute tour led by a Beefeater where you’ll learn about the 900-year history of this imposing fortress (in short: torture, prisoners, weapons and exotic animals). Feast your eyes on the crown jewels and prisoner graffiti – you’ll even meet the raven keeper. If you want to get eyeballs-deep in London’s bloody history, then put the Tower of London on your bucket list.
If you’re interested in UK politics or just want a better understanding of it, the Houses of Parliament isn’t to be missed. Seriously – this is where laws get passed, y’know! Book an audio tour and soak up the history of this grand old nineteenth-century building and if you’re feeling flush, stay for afternoon tea overlooking the Thames.
The zoological gardens that reside in Regent’s Park have been entertaining the crowds since Victorian times – but it’s in the last 15 years that the Zoological Society London has really given it an overhaul. The 36-acre park has been refashioned to support conservation, with the welfare of its inhabitants a high priority, and visitor’s encounters more informative than just point-and-stare.
There are more than eight million artifacts within the British Museum’s walls and every single one of them has a story to tell. You could easily spend hours here losing yourself in thousands of years of culture and history from the world over. Its big hitter is the Egyptian mummy, which pulls in gawping kids and adults alike. If you’d rather dodge the crowds, head to the newly re-opened Sir Joseph Hutong Gallery: a treasure trove of objects from China and South Asia.
The Dungeon spent four decades under the railway arches on Tooley Street at London Bridge. Then, in 2013, it upped sticks to a new home on the South Bank. It may lack the mucky, subterranean charm of the former site – but believe us, all the frights and gross-out moments inside are still just as icky.
Not just one for nerdy trainspotting types – TfL’s transport museum offers a genuinely compelling and enjoyable journey trhough the history of getting around in London.
‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ is a burst of joy in the heart of the West End. This new British musical, transferring from the Sheffield Crucible, is the real deal. Watch out, tired revivals: there’s a new kid in town. Inspired by a 2011 BBC documentary about a teenager who wanted to be a drag queen, the show follows 16-year-old Jamie on his journey to be himself – out of a classroom in a working-class part of Sheffield, away from the bigotry of a deadbeat dad, and into high heels. Director Jonathan Butterell’s production is a high-impact blaze of colour, combining video projections with seamless scene changes and a live band above the stage. It captures the frenetic energy of being a teenager. Every element of this show works beautifully together. The music, by The Feeling frontman Dan Gillespie Sells, is a deft mix of irresistibly catchy, pop-honed foot-tappers – try not to hum ‘And You Don’t Even Know It’, I dare you – and truthful, heart-wrenching numbers. This is Sells’s first foray into writing for musicals, but he’s always excelled at telling stories in song. He is matched by the show’s writer and lyricist Tom MacRae. Apart from notable exceptions like Punchdrunk’s ‘Doctor Who’-themed kids’ show ‘The Crash of Elysium’, he’s largely written for TV, but this works well here. His dialogue is punchy, funny and often lands with a sting. While most of the characters exist to orbit Jamie, they still have their own stories and these are crisply told. As Pritti, Jamie’
Okay, let’s just get this out of the way. ‘Hamilton’ is stupendously good. Yes, it’s kind of a drag that there’s so much hype around it. But there was a lot of hype around penicillin. And that worked out pretty well. If anything – and I’m truly sorry to say this – Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the US Treasury, is actually better than the hype suggests. That’s because lost in some of the more waffly discourse around its diverse casting and sociological import is the fact that ‘Hamilton’ is, first and foremost, a ferociously enjoyable show. You probably already know that it’s a hip hop musical, something that’s been tried before with limited success. Here it works brilliantly, because Miranda – who wrote everything – understands what mainstream audiences like about hip hop, what mainstream audiences like about musical theatre, and how to craft a brilliant hybrid. Put simply, it’s big emotions and big melodies from the former, and thrilling, funny, technically virtuosic storytelling from the latter. ‘Alexander Hamilton’, the opening tune, exemplifies everything that’s great about the show. It’s got a relentlessly catchy build and momentum, a crackling, edge-of-seat sense of drama, and is absolutely chockablock with information, as the key players stride on to bring us up to speed with the eventful life that Hamilton – the ‘bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman’ – led before he emigrated to America in 1772 as a teenager
Musicals don’t come much more low-key, wholesome or Canadian than ‘Come from Away’. Writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein cook up the straightforward world of the Newfoundland town of Gander using a very straightforward set of ingredients. The cast wear sensible shoes and lumberjack shirts. They tramp across a wood-decked stage that evokes the huge skies of their tiny island. They sing their way through a set of folk-tinged songs that tell stories of the five days after 9/11, when 38 planes made emergency landings on the island’s huge, disused airstrip. And it’s all totally, soul-feedingly wonderful. ‘Come from Away’ has been a massive sleeper hit across North America, Broadway included, and it’s easy to see why: it mixes down-home authenticity with the desperate intensity that comes in times of crisis. This is a moment where 7,000 temporary arrivals join a community of just 9,000 people. Logistics might not be the sexiest of topics for a musical, but one of the many surprising joys of this show is how gripping it makes things like the struggle to rustle up transport at a time when the local school bus drivers were on strike and had to be coaxed into crossing the picket line. Then there are beds, food, medication and interpreters to be sourced for passengers from across the world: one non-English-speaking couple communicates by cross-referencing Bible verses. Based closely on interviews with real Newfoundlanders, this is a picture of a community that stretches itself to bre
I’m not sure any show ‘deserves’ to be the most successful entertainment event of all time, but I’ll hand it current holder of that title, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ – it still works hard for its audience. Sure, chunks of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s opus have never left 1986. But whereas describing a musical as ‘stuck in the ’80s’ is usually shorthand for cheap, thin synth orchestration, nothing could be further from the truth here: the portentously swirling keyboards and crunch of hair metal guitar that powers ‘Phantom’s title song have a black hole-like immensity, sucking you in with sheer juggernaut bombast. Mostly, though, ‘Phantom…’ remains strong because its high production values haven’t been allowed to sag. The late Maria Björnson’s design is a heady barrage of ravishing costumes and lavish sets that change frequently, working in everything from pastoral jollity to an ancient Carthaginian theme on the way to the Phantom’s stunning underground lair. It’s totally OTT – in one scene the Phantom zaps at his nemesis Raul with a staff that fires actual fireballs – and anybody who describes the plot (homicidal lunatic grooms girl) as romantic should probably be put on some sort of register. But its blazingly earnest ridiculousness and campy Grand Guignol story are entirely thrilling when realised with the show’s enormous budget. And while Hal Prince’s production may have been hailed as rather gauche back in the day, in 2013 it all comes across as rather more tasteful than the a
In July 2019, ‘Les Mis’ will close at the Queen’s Theatre in its current incarnation and the theatre will be shut for a four-month refurb. From August 10 to November 30, ‘Les Mis’ will run at the Gielgud Theatre as ‘Les Miserables – The All Star Staged Concert’, a concert version starring Michael Ball (Javert), Alfie Boe (Jean Valjean), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Fantine) and Matt Lucas (Thénardier). From December 2019, ‘Les Mis’ will reopen at the Queen’s Theatre, but in a different version too the one that was running at the Queen’s Theatre before. Got it? Great! If the second longest running show in the West End was looking a little tired, a rejuvenating orchestral facelift was just what the doctor ordered. Cameron Mackintosh's 'little girl' has shaken off that 1980s synth vibe and finally woken up to the organic noughties. This is a new, richer sound with strong operatic undertones and even the faint echoes of chamber music. Led by compelling ex-'Phantom…' Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean, this dynamic cast blows a whirlwind through the Queen's Theatre, hurtling along Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's famous melodrama. Aided by a swirling revolve and John Napier's stunning constructivist set, we follow Jean Valjean's journey across France as he attempts to escape his criminal past and make amends. Hadley Fraser as Javert, Valjean's fated pursuer, matches Karimloo's booming vocals and moody stares step for step (at one point rather sweetly causing a premature o
In the unlikely event you were worried a leap to the stage for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series would result in it becoming aggressively highbrow, self-consciously arty or grindingly bereft of magical high jinks, just chill the hell out, muggle. ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ is an absolute hoot, a joyous, big-hearted, ludicrously incident-packed and magic-heavy romp that has to stand as one of the most unrelentingly entertaining things to hit the West End. Writer Jack Thorne, director John Tiffany and a world-class team have played a blinder; if the two-part, five-hour-plus show is clearly a bit on the long side, it’s forgivable. ‘The Cursed Child’ emphatically exists for fans of Harry Potter, and much of its power derives from the visceral, often highly emotional impact of feeling that you’re in the same room as Rowling’s iconic characters. There’s also a sense that this story of wizards and witches is being treated with the respect its now substantially grown-up fanbase craves. No disrespect to D-Rad and chums, but the leads here are in a different acting league to their film counterparts’: Jamie Parker and Alex Price are superb as battered, damaged, middle-aged versions of old enemies Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. Sam Clemmett and Anthony Boyle are a fine, puppyish, sympathetic engine to the play as their awkward sons Albus and Scorpius, trying to escape their parents’ shadows. It is a bit of a sausage (wand?) fest in terms of the lead parts, although in the mos
Brace yourself for a shock: ‘South Park’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Broadway-munching musical is not particularly shocking. Sure, there are ‘fucks’ and ‘cunts’ and gags about baby rape – but most of it is deployed ironically; beneath it all, this is a big-hearted affair that pays note-perfect homage to the sounds and spirit of Broadway’s golden age. The strapping young Latter Day Saints missionaries in ‘The Book of Mormon’ are as cartoonish as any ‘South Park’ character, with the endearing alpha-male woodenness of the ‘Team America’ puppets. In other words, they are loveable, well-intentioned idiots, traversing the globe like groups of pious meerkats, convinced they can convert the heathen through sheer politeness. And if they have doubts, then as Stephen Ashfield’s scene-stealingly repressed Elder McKinley declares in glorious faux-Gershwin number ‘Turn it Off’, ‘Don’t feel those feelings – hold them in instead!’ His advice is ignored by the show’s heroes, narcissistic, highly strung Elder Price (Gavin Creel) and dumpy, lying Elder Cunningham (Jared Gertner). The pair are sent to Uganda in an effort to convert a village to Mormonism, a religion that essentially tells the penniless villagers how great distant America is. The locals are not keen: Price cracks and unwisely clashes with a crazed local warlord; Cunningham makes up his own version of Mormonism which involves fucking frogs to cure oneself of Aids. ‘The Book of Mormon’ is, above all, very funny, breath
The film world continues its love affair with werewolves, vampires and all things 'Twilight'. But theatre types have always known witches are where it's at. After its 2006 opening at Apollo Victoria, Oz prequel 'Wicked' continues to fill this massive theatre with an international crowd of voracious consumers (glass of champagne and a choccy for £16 anyone?). But this stylish and bombastic musical still delivers, sailing over its patchy score thanks to a gravity-defying performance from its current leading lady Rachel Tucker, as the intense green-skinned undergrad who goes on to become the Wicked Witch of the West. 'Wicked' is a spectacle that rises or falls around its central performance. In the midst of a gigantic production full of bangs, bells and whistles Tucker, with her small frame and searing vocal ability, simply flies off with the show. She's closely followed by Gina Beck, who plays good girl, Glinda. Glinda and Elphaba's relationship forms the heart of this story and, as the Good Witch, Beck is a consummate clown, playing up the silliness of her character at every turn. But she can raise a tear, too, and her final duet with Tucker, 'For Good', is genuinely heart-rending. The Tim Burton-inspired ensemble oscillate between the hypnotic and grotesque and a sweet but thin voiced Matt Willis charms as the rather superfluous Prince. As in classical ballet, this is all about the women and, even by previous lead Idina Menzel's standards, they are in soaring form here. T
'My mummy says I'm a miracle,' lisps a pampered mini-me at a purgatorial kiddies' birthday party at the outset of this delicious, treacly-dark family show. The obnoxious ma and pa of its titular, gifted, pint-sized heroine are not, of course, quite so doting. But 'Matilda' must be making its creators, playwright Dennis Kelly and comedian-songsmith Tim Minchin, a very pair of proud parents. Opening to rave reviews in Stratford-upon Avon before transferring to the West End in 2011 and snatching up Olivier Awards with all the alacrity of a sticky-fingered child in a sweetshop, Matthew Warchus's RSC production remains a treat. With hindsight, Kelly and Minchin's musical, born of the 1988 novel by that master of the splendidly grotesque Roald Dahl, is a little too long and, dramatically, a tad wayward. But like the curly-haired little girl in the famous nursery rhyme, when it is good, it is very, very good. And it's even better when it's horrid. The past few months have seen some cast changes, including, alas, the departure of Bertie Carvel's tremendous Miss Trunchbull, headmistress of the dread Crunchem Hall School, former Olympic hammer-thrower and a gorgon of monumental nastiness, complete with scarily Thatcher-esque tics of purse-lipped gentility and faux concern. David Leonard doesn't quite match the squirm-inducing, hair-raising detail of Carvel in the role, but his more butch, granite-faced version is fantastically horrible nonetheless. And if Paul Kaye as Matilda's loat
If you’re a plucky producer hoping to get your new show into the Criterion Theatre, you’re flat out of luck once again. Because less than nine months after 'The 39 Steps' shuttered after almost a decade glowering over Piccadilly Circus, it’s now home to the brand new comedy by Mischief Theatre, which, if there’s any justice in the theatre world, will run for even longer. 'The Comedy About A Bank Robbery' is the latest play by the bogglingly prolific and talented team behind 'The Play That Goes Wrong' (or more accurately the 'Play That Goes Wrong' franchise) and it’s their best and funniest work yet. A genre pastiche, screwball comedy and classic farce that’s as clean and clear as its brassy branding, it spins with a manic energy from Two Ronnies-esque wordplay through surreal set-pieces to slapstick stunts prepped to bring the house down. The story of a bungled jewel heist in a sleepy Minneapolis bank branch, it features a host of hilarious but well-drawn characters who roar across the stage and tumble into disaster after disaster, each one more elegantly drawn than the last. The writers’ ability to snatch a laugh out of every line, and to intricately prime each scenario with zinging punchlines and pay-offs is stunning, as call-backs and running gags pile up into teetering edifices of absurdity. The entire cast is bang on the money, but Mischief Theatre’s own Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer are the standouts as booming bank manager Robin Freeboys and hapless loser (and eter
The posters have been plastered around the London Underground for years – long enough for this show to become the most successful musical of all time – but nothing prepares you for the sheer impact of 'The Lion King's opening sequence. With the surge of 'Circle Of Life' reverberating through your chest, Julie Taymor's animal creations march on, species by species. Gazelles spring, birds swoop and an elephant and her child lumber through the stalls. It's a cacophonous cavalcade that genuinely stops you breathing. You'd think Noah's Ark had emptied onto the stage. For a global blockbuster, 'The Lion King's absolute theatricality is astonishing. Techniques from all over the world – African masks, Japanese Kabuki costumes, Malaysian shadow puppetry – are smashed together in an explosion of spectacle. It's perfect for a musical, allowing both distinct flavours and an eclectic carnival spirit. Admittedly, things deflate when it sacrifices this defiant originality for subservient approximation of the film. Timon and Pumba (Damian Baldet and Keith Bookman), though impressively like their screen counterparts, step into the savannah from a different dimension. The hyena-infested elephant's graveyard swaps menace for goofiness and the famous stampede scene, so delicately handled and moving in the film, is merely ticked off with a sigh of relief. The familiarity of the film is a root cause of the show's commercial success. But, ironically, 'The Lion King' can't afford such compromis
It's been decades since this skillful adaptation of Susan Hill's 1983 Gothic horror story first started setting West End audience a-shiver. 'The Woman in Black' remains perennially popular – particularly, it seems, with generally hard-to-please teenagers – which is testament to its rough-theatre appeal and the extraordinary and enduring potency, not of guts, gore or special effects, but of simple suggestion. Ageing Arthur Kipps is haunted by sinister events that befell him 30 years earlier. In an effort to exorcise his demons, he hires an actor to help him tell his story for an invited audience. As they rehearse, though, their staging itself becomes prey to supernatural visitations from the titular hatchet-faced, whip-thin, funereally garbed woman. Stephen Mallatratt's dramatisation and a deft production by Robin Herford exploit the peculiarly spooky atmosphere of an empty theatre, making us, as an audience, feel almost like spectral voyeurs. And the chills are irresistibly effective: swirling fog, a creaking rocking chair, a locked door, a pale visage looming out of the gloom. Only occasionally does the staging show its age. The projected image of the gaunt, sinister house of Kipps' tormented memory looks hopelessly cheap and crude, and a graveyard conjured with dust sheets struggles to convince, even within the low-tech aesthetic parameters of the piece. Yet the shrieks and gasps that greet the performance demonstrate that, even in the twenty-first century, this doughty
Step inside the Lyric foyer and you'll be greeted by a gleaming Michael Jackson memorial. Enter the auditorium and you'll find another in 'Thriller', a shining homage to The King of Pop. This is a sparkling, singing and shimmying conveyor belt of more than 30 of Jackson's greatest hits. It's a bit like watching an extended episode of 'The X Factor' – except the performers are actually very good and they've all picked Jacko. What really hits home in this jubilant jukebox show, which recently celebrated its thousandth performance, is the range of repertoire available. 'Thriller' is a reminder of Michael Jackson's versatility and the unique gloss he lent to pop, rock, dance and even the ballad. 'Heal the World' is crooned by a throng of suitably seraphic kids, 'Beat It' is blasted into the gods and a silver-gloved groover glides majestically through 'Smooth Criminal'. The show, held together by the loosest of narratives, begins with a selection of Jackson 5 numbers. These earlier songs are among the best of the night: pure, funky, relatively simple and uniformly upbeat. Salient facts are flashed furiously across the screens (750 million records sold worldwide!) and the show segues into Jackson's solo career. Some of these later songs are terrifyingly idiosyncratic – made and moulded for the man himself – and the lead vocalists struggle with the quirkier numbers, such as 'Jam' and 'Dirty Diana'. But it is the dancing that dazzles, no more so than Michael Duke's confident and w
They don’t really have pantomimes in the US, which may explain why the creatives behind this hit Broadway adaptation of Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ made a pantomime, probably without realising. There’s no Widow Twankey or Wishee Washee, but Alan Menken’s musical gives you the same things as a decent British panto ‘Aladdin’: lavish set pieces (designer Bob Crowley has done some impressive things); campy, knowing, fourth wall-breaking humour; songs (obvs); a magic carpet sequence; a dull hero (Dean John-Wilson’s prominent man-cleavage is the most memorable bit of his performance); a ludicrously OTT villain (Don Gallagher’s Jafar laps up the boos at curtain call); and a scene-stealing dame (more later). It’s well done, but talk about selling coals to Newcastle: the humour hits the spot with Howard Ashman’s dry lyrics, but it lacks the inspired madness of, say, the Hackney Empire panto. Alongside the other big West End Disney musical, Julie Taymor’s ‘The Lion King’, it struggles to establish a distinct, theatrical identity. And my mind boggled at how the diverse, largely British cast has had bland American accents foisted upon them to play Middle Eastern characters. One decision producers won’t be regretting is importing star of the Broadway show Trevor Dion Nicholas as Genie. The role could have been something of a poisoned, er, lamp, given Robin Williams’s iconic turn in the 1992 film. But glitter-doused Nicholas makes it his own with a kinetic mix of fabulousness and physicality. He
Look: there’s a strong chance you’re reading this because you’re a Tom Hiddleston fan, so here’s something for the Tom Hiddleston fans. There is a scene in Jamie Lloyd’s production of Harold Pinter’s reverse chronology adultery drama ‘Betrayal’ in which his character, Robert, is told by Zawe Ashton’s character Emma – his wife – that she has been having an affair with his best friend Jerry (Charlie Cox) for years. Posh, self-assured Robert’s language would suggest he is savagely sanguine about this: but Hiddleston’s eyes are heartbreakingly wet. Maybe he’s got some sort of clever trick or whatnot, but it’s a genuinely remarkable piece of acting, in a genuinely remarkable performance. Really, though, the triumph here belongs to director Jamie Lloyd. Directing ‘Betrayal’ as the culmination of his Pinter at the Pinter season of all of the late playwright’s one-act plays, there have to be very few people alive – or indeed dead – who understand Pinter in the way Lloyd does, and it shows here. ‘Betrayal’ is notionally Pinter’s most accessible play, and is staged frequently, often safe productions with celebrity casts. But I’ve never seen a version before that has made such sense of it for me, and has been so daring in the staging. Usually, it is taken fairly literally, as a realist drama about an affair. Here, it touches on more fundamental questions of human nature and identity. In a way that absolutely connects ‘Betrayal’ to the playwright’s earlier, stranger work, Lloyd make
It is the ultimate musical about male privilege, a show about an under-qualified, over-entitled white guy who shambles his way to public adoration by blithely inflicting bankrupt baby boomer values upon a bunch of impressionable people who don’t know any better. ‘School of Rock – The Musical’ is also quite good fun. I dunno if it’s the state of the world today, the fact I haven’t seen the Jack Black-starring film, the fact that so much has changed – musically and politically – since the film came out in 2003, or simply the knowledge that it’s written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes, a couple of Tory lords in their late ’60s, but I felt a bit politically uneasy about ‘School of Rock’, which follows schlubby charlatan Dewey (David Fynn) as he masquerades as a teacher and proves a hit by tearing up his sensitive young charges’ syllabus and making them play old person music. Its big, catchy number is called ‘Stick It to the Man’. Yet there’s something both problematic and ironic about the fact that in Laurence Connor’s production The Man is represented by two women – Florence Andrews’s hard-working, professional headmistress Rosalie and Preeya Kalidas’s Patty, a hard-working, professional wife-to-Dewey’s best friend Ned – while in the blue corner we have... Dewey, a self-absorbed bum who everything turns out brilliantly for. Despite apparently being somewhere in his thirties – so presumably born around 1980 – Dewey exclusively loves classic rock bands, and mocks
Interview: Anne Washburn – ‘I don’t set out to be a non-pleasurable playwright, I truly don’t!’ Anne Washburn has a knack for taking the baffling rubble dump of modern America and turning it into an enchanted gothic castle. Her play ‘Shipwreck’, currently playing at the Almeida, tackles Donald Trump’s presidency with black humour; her 2012 play ‘Mr Burns’ imagined a post-apocalyptic US where half-remembered lines from ‘The Simpsons’ are retold by a group of survivors. In her adaptation of ‘The Twilight Zone’, the iconic sci-fi horror anthology series, she remains true to the original stories by Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson while playfully acknowledging their inherent camp. Actually, the stories themselves, to a modern audience fed on ‘American Horror Story’, ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘Stranger Things’, feel a bit silly, like a boy scout’s idea of a campfire thrill. An alien joins a group of strangers waiting for a bus in a storm; a little girl falls into an alternate dimension; a pilot is blasted into a half-century return journey to the nearest solar system; a man dares not sleep for fear of getting so horny for a beautiful dream-woman that he’ll die of a heart attack. They are told in disjointed piecemeal bursts over two acts, non-chronologically. Only two stories have any real emotional power; in one, loyalty and love are thwarted by good intentions; in another, a painfully pertinent conversation about race and identity expose the dark heart of a friendly
Judy Craymer's bold idea of turning the insanely catchy songs of ABBA into a musical has paid off splendidly, in every sense – box office figures for 'Mamma Mia!' are as eye-watering as its outfits. This is largely because Catherine Johnson had the sense to weave the 1970s into her script, and director Phyllida Lloyd to cast accordingly. Heroine Donna Sheridan lived the free love dream (if only because her boyfriend ran out on her), wound up pregnant and survived to see her daughter, Sophie, reject all her principles in favour of a white wedding and the kind of certainty that comes from knowing which of your mother's three consecutive lovers ought to be walking you down the aisle. If you wanted to, you could see this as a conversation about feminism. But you'll look pretty silly debating patriarchal oppression while on your feet clapping to 'Dancing Queen'. Some of the songs are oddly static, but when the choreography does get going – for instance, when Donna's friend Tanya stylishly quashes a libidinous local puppy in 'Does Your Mother Know?' – it's terrific, and makes great use of props: I wonder if the producers can assure us that no electric drills or hairdryers were harmed in the making of this musical? The current cast appear to have been chosen more for their singing voices than their serious acting ability. But who needs dramatic conviction when you have purest pop to do the convincing for you? Given the songs, a story just about solid enough to stay upright on its
This comedy has, of course, actually done everything right. Produced by LAMDA graduates Mischief Theatre, the show has had successful runs at the Old Red Lion in Islington, Trafalgar Studios, and in Edinburgh; now it's made it all the way to the West End. Amid all the chatter about the overbearing West End dominance of jukebox musicals and film spin-offs, it’s cheering to see a dynamic young company land slap-bang in the middle of Theatreland.The show is a farcical play-within-a-play. Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are mounting a production of a hoary old sub-‘Mousetrap’ mystery called ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor’. From the first moment, in which a hapless stage manager attempts to secure a collapsing mantelpiece, we suspect that things are not going to go to plan. And that, indeed, is the case, as the production shudders painfully into chaos, taking in everything from dropped lines to disintegrating sets, intra-cast fighting, technical malfunctions of the highest order, and an unexpectedly resuscitated corpse.The show sits in a fine tradition of British slapstick, and of plays about theatrical blunders: its debt to Michael Frayn’s hilarious ‘Noises Off’, about the gradual disintegration of a touring rep production, is considerable. This is, to be fair, acknowledged by the play’s marketing, which calls it — correctly — ‘“Fawlty Towers” meets “Noises Off”’. But the trouble is that anyone who has seen, and loved, ‘Noises Off’, is likely to find the comparison unfavourable
Transferring from the Globe, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s play about the seventeenth-century poet Emilia Bassano Lanier has already been widely heralded as ‘rousing’ – and it certainly is that. It rouses the audience right to their feet. They whoop and cheer the barnstorming feminist speeches, and literally boo the bad oppressive men. It is incredibly heartening to hear unabashed feminist rhetoric, spoken by a diverse all-female cast, in a commercial theatre space. And Lloyd Malcolm has uncovered a cracking historical character: Emilia was one of the first published female poets, and a possible candidate for the ‘Dark Lady’ of Shakespeare’s sonnets. She provides a clear way in for discussing the centuries-long silencing of women, the oppression they have faced – and still face today. And you’re never far from a totally topical line, the mix of past and present underlined by Lloyd Malcolm’s use of cheerfully anachronistic slangy contemporary phrases. It can be really fun; this is a gently meta-theatrical and very jolly historical romp of a show, in the mould of ‘Nell Gwyn’ or ‘Shakespeare in Love’. The winkingly modern perspective on the nonsense men spouted and women were expected to put up with is frequently amusing. But the writing and delivery can also be dreadfully on the nose. Our problems are not the same as those of women 400 years ago. It makes the feminist arguments broad and, well, pretty basic. Emilia is too often a cipher rather than a living breathing character. She
The distinctive terracotta façade with its dark-green awnings never fails to stirs up some excitement for every visitor to Harrods. The legendary food halls and 27 restaurants are worth a trip alone.
Liberty was founded in 1875, but the present Marlborough Street site, with its ships’ timbers and leaded windows, was built in the 1920s. The interconnecting jumble of rooms, with the odd fireplace and cushioned window seat, makes for a unique shopping experience.
There's a reason why Selfridges is one of our favourite London stores. It's a veritable maze of goodies. From contemporary art installations to swoon-worthy stationery and a floor devoted to finding you your perfect pair of jeans. And it's all available to take home – for a price. While most of us can't afford the high-end stuff, there's definitely a little something in here for everyone. And even if you just go to browse or sip a coffee in the cafe, Selfridges is well worth the trip.
A thoroughly British shop with a traditional French attitude to cheese retailing in that, like an affineur, Neal’s Yard buys from small farms and creameries in Britain and Ireland, and matures the cheeses in its own cellars until they’re ready to sell in peak condition.
Rough Trade's rock 'n' roll legacy continues to live on in both sides of London, wth the original shop in Ladbroke Grove and this East End addition, which opened in 2007. This is a real music lover's paradise, with a cafe and cushions to perch upon to read books or listen to records. They also have regular free live performances from major acts, although good luck getting tickets for those shows.
Both a tourist attraction, with regular school-holiday events for children, and a ginormous toy shop, Hamleys has all the must-have toys for kids both little and large. The hands-on demonstrations will easily keep you in this five-floored cornucopia for hours.
Kingly Court has helped London’s Carnaby Street to reclaim its 1960s reputation as the heart of swinging London. The three-tiered complex boasts a funky mix of established chains, independents, vintage and gift shops, plus a café-filled courtyard.
Best known for antiques and collectibles, this is actually several markets rolled into one: antiques start at the Notting Hill end; further up are food stalls; under the Westway and along the walkway to Ladbroke Grove are emerging designer and vintage clothes on Fridays and Saturdays.
Food and Drink
Please note: since this review was published, Rumpus Room has been renamed to 12th Knot and Mondrian London has been renamed to Sea Containers. Time Out editors, 2019. Hotel bars used to be the straight-laced kind of place you’d take your ’rents. Not so at Sea Containers, where Dandelyan has been winning awards on the ground floor while level 12’s Rumpus Room has stayed a bit of an inside secret. Now this chic bar is ready to welcome the world, with a terrace overlooking St Paul’s and DJs to lure sophisticated after-workers and Friday night socialites. I say socialites, since the venue claims to take its cue from the Bright Young Things, a group of hedonists followed by the tabloids in the 1920s. Think England’s non-fiction ‘Great Gatsby’ (or the ’20s version of the sidebar of shame). In truth, the theme’s not obvious, but the setting is pure style. Waitresses work the room in floaty, floral numbers you’d expect to see on Kate Moss in the French Riviera. And she’d probably approve of their way (a million miles from ‘basic bitch’ service). There are mauve banquettes, glittering chandeliers, and a shiny gold bar, but it’s the view that really wins the crowd. Stick around for sunset, when the room gets more blingy. Don’t expect such an atmosphere without paying a pretty penny; solid classic cocktails cost £14. My paloma was faultless, but my bank card withered when I promptly reached the bottom of the glass. Stick with champagne cocktails to feel more at peace; after all, Ru
Who needs stuffy old museums? The dining room of the Gallery at Sketch is one of the most playful – and most pink – places to be enveloped by art. The walls have around 200 original prints and drawings by Turner Prize-winning David Shrigley, their cartoonish quality adding to the sense of fun. He’s even designed some of the crockery: ‘ghosts’, say the teapots, ‘forget about it’, quips the inside of your cup. You can come here for dinner, but afternoon tea is what The Gallery has become famous for, so much so that you can get it before noon (it starts, specifically, at 11.30am). Service is outstanding. Once your charming host has talked you through how it works, you’re looked after by a dedicated ‘tea master’: glam gals in slinky cocktail dresses and baseballs shoes. Who happen to really know their brews. After you’ve decided on drinks and a menu (standard, children’s or – if notice is given – a special dietary needs option), the fun begins. First, there’s the caviar man, in a panama hat and pale blazer. You get a spoonful of caviar (Russian Sturgeon, cultivated in France) alongside Egg and Soldiers: two slim, cheesy toast strips and a fake egg in a very real egg cup (the white is an exceptionally good Comté cheese mornay, the yolk is from a quail and cooked to an ultra-soft 63 degrees). There’s a similar level of creativity throughout the sandwiches and cakes. Star of the sarnies was a black bread Croque d’York, or the salmon and soured cream on rye, while a perfect pear t
Just off Regent Street is Sakagura, a smart Japanese restaurant and sake bar. It’s like somewhere you would actually find in Japan, rather than your typical clichéd translation of a ‘Japanese restaurant’. You get all the trimmings – hot towels, impeccably polite service, a sake menu so vast that it’s organised by province and, of course, really excellent food. Attention to detail abounds. The décor is modern and sleek, with rich wooden tables, curved-back chairs and touches of black leather, but be sure to ask for a booth – partially screened, they’re the best seats in the house. The traditional crockery is beautiful and the chopsticks are double-ended, which is a nice touch for when you’re serving food for sharing (the Japanese frown on using the same chopsticks for eating and serving, unless, of course, those chopsticks have two ends). There’s even a sake sommelier. Despite Sakagura’s size and swishiness, it’s not at all intimidating, with friendly staff ready to talk you through what you’re about to eat without being patronising. Order the sashimi moriwase – when it arrives your pupils will morph into love hearts. At £39, it’s no cheap eat, but with 18 pieces of incredibly fresh fish, edible pansies and flowers carved out of daikon (plus fresh wasabi), it’s well worth it. Seabass carpaccio with subtle, truffly notes was intricate and exceptional. There’s plenty for veggies too – sushi rolls with burdock and carrot maki really sang, while the sprout tempura was so delicio
Venue says Bloom into spring the traditional Japanese way at Sakagura. In the spirit of Hanami, we've created a month-long cherry blossom takeover 🌸🌺
I love a rebel. Temper gallops up to the ‘cooking on charcoal’ bandwagon, then sets it on fire. Imagine smoked meat and fish served over tacos and flatbreads, with pow-pow Asian and Latin spices. It’s one of those rare, holy-shit-I’ve-not-eaten-like-this-before places. This Soho joint, from Scottish chef Neil Rankin (Smokehouse, Bad Egg) sources top-notch whole carcasses, which are grilled or smoked in slabs – a cow’s entire ribcage, a legless goat (no jokes, please) – ahead of slicing or dicing. The most straightforward dishes are those served over a ‘flatbread’ (more of a basic roti, made with rendered animal fat and puffed up on the grill) in small, affordable portions. Try the impossibly juicy pork, or the full-flavoured smoked goat. To this bread-and-meat-combo, you add up to eight exotic sprinkles and salsas (all homemade). I loved the simplicity of their ‘green sauce’: just lime juice, coriander and garlic. But it’s with the tacos where things really get interesting. They grind the corn on site (of course they do), and because these rough, rustic little discs are hand-pressed, they’re thicker than usual, so you can really taste – and feel – the corn. But the fillings, oh, the fillings. I adored the soy-cured beef. This is a twist on a yukhoe (a Korean ‘steak tartare’), which they make by stripping off the outside of a half-smoked joint of beef to expose the uncooked bit underneath (sort of like using the inside of a medium rare steak), then hand-chopping and mixing w
Venue says Join us every Sunday for Family Style Sharing Roasts
It’s not easy to open a spate of brand-new restaurants and maintain high standards, but chef-patron Jason Atherton has clearly moved on from being the sorcerer’s apprentice (under Gordon Ramsay) to being the sorcerer himself. His Little Social deluxe bistro only opened in March 2013, right opposite his fine dining Pollen Street Social in Mayfair. He followed this up, weeks later, with an even more ambitious restaurant in Soho, by delegating the chef role to his buddy and long-time head chef at Pollen Street Social, Paul Hood. The ground-floor dining room has a mirrored ceiling to create the sensation of space in a low room; upstairs is a smart cocktail bar, called the Blind Pig, which also has a separate entrance. Most of the action is in the dining room, though, with a kitchen brigade who are clearly at the top of their game. Smoked duck ‘ham’, egg and chips is a dish that’s typical of Pollen Street Social’s playfulness. ‘Ham’ is cured and smoked from duck breast on the premises, served with a breadcrumbed duck egg that’s molten in the middle, but with an aroma of truffle oil. Umami – savouriness, the taste that enhances other flavours – was also plentiful in a roast cod main course that uses powdered Japanese kombu seaweed in a glaze, served with a creamy sauce of roasted cockles and just-in-season St George’s mushrooms. Presentation is a strong point of Hood’s dishes, just as they are for his mentor Atherton. A starter of ‘CLT’ – crab meat, a fan of blonde castelfranco
Welcome to party island. You’ll have to battle past crowds of frazzled commuters at Waterloo station and climb up a series of brightly coloured staircases to get there. But it’s worth it to reach this buzzy rooftop oasis with swoonsome views of the city’s skyline. It takes its inspiration from the tiny island of Elba, just off the Tuscan coast, where Napoleon Bonaparte was forcibly sent in 1814. He took his horse and a few hundred of his closest pals. Political exile? Apparently he just partied in the Med for 300 days. Enough of that, though. Bar Elba’s historical theme is as loose as they come. With fairy lights, communal benches and a sizeable cocktail list, this rooftop bar is more about the (bona)party than the nineteenth-century military leader. The bar boasts a small wine, beer and cider menu, as well as a selection of bubbles for those with an emperor’s budget. Cocktails are sweet and summery: the frosé, a velvety-smooth, rosé and vermouth-spiked strawberry slushie, was easily the stand-out, while the Aperol Spritz was solid and came served in big sharing jugs for the thirsty. Balmy Italian paradise, Bar Elba is not. But, as the sun sets over Waterloo, with a view of the Shard glinting in the day’s last light, it is a sweet place to be. Of course, there’s no proof that the premise is in any way historically accurate, but ‘liberté, egalité, rosé’? That’s a motto I can get behind.
Hipsters: prepare to be outraged. There’s a new kid in town, with dishes as retro as a Rubik’s Cube, but without the side of irony. That’s because it’s the latest gaff from Corbin & King, the chaps behind The Wolseley, The Delaunay, and Brasserie Zédel. Like those, it’s named in connection with classic cars (backstory: The Wolseley site was originally built as the showroom of the Wolseley Car Company). Bellanger is a nod to the Société des Automobiles Bellanger Frères, a French car manufacturer from 1912 to ’25 (fun fact: Monsieur Bellanger sold Delaunay cars). And once again, it pays homage to the golden era of all-day ‘grand cafés’. Formerly home to a popular-but-uninspiring branch of Brown’s, the site’s potential has at last been realised. The layout’s much the same (airy front section, intimate rear space, bustling middle to connect the two), but the refit by David Collins’s protégé Shayne Brady is all new. If you can call interiors straight from the Alsatian brasseries of turn-of-the-century Paris ‘new’, that is. (Bit of history: these were set up by refugees fleeing the Alsace after the region was annexed by Germany). It’s gorgeously art nouveau, all polished wood panelling, smoky mirrors and flattering golden lighting. An abundance of booths encourages group dining and café chatter. You can’t buy this kind of buzz. The food – a Venn diagram of French, German and Alsatian – is simple, yet flawless. If Angela Merkel and François Hollande embarked upon an illicit affair
Venue says Visit Bellanger on a Tuesday & Wednesday evening for their new steak frites & wine and sausage, sauerkraut & beer specials from £14.50
Did Sir Christopher Wren adroitly combine the traditional gothic style of church-building with the grace and ambition of Renaissance design, or was his cathedral too decorative for a seat of English ecclesiastical power and a dangerous transgression towards the old faith? There’s no better place to consider the points of debate circling around St Paul’s than this new rooftop terrace bar in Jean Nouvel’s One New Change shopping complex. The name of the bar is meaningless – a vague attempt at Manhattan glamour. The looks are unimportant, as the whole mall is in thrall to its neighbour. Madison seems to exist largely as a viewing platform. But what a view it is. A glass lift takes gawpers from the ground floor, sweeping up parallel with St Pauls’ east elevation. Once in the bar or its generous outdoor space, an unrivalled close-up is offered of the drum, peristyle, upper balustrade, upper drum, dome and lantern of the cathedral – all the godliest bits – with the ball and cross silhouetted perfectly against the sky. You can of course drink in more than the views: cocktails range from standards (mojitos and whatnot) to concoctions with names ripe for being cackled at by hen parties (Pornstar Martini, Hot Bitch Martini). There’s a good range of spirits, and Heineken is offered by the ‘schooner’ (a two-thirds of a pint measure). There are snacks, some of which may cause puzzlement if piled on small plates in Spain, but called tapas here nonetheless: the likes of Welsh rarebit fr
Venue says Spring has sprung! Join us on the rooftop to enjoy our brand new cocktail menu and take in the views from our floral terrace.