June is a downright joyful time to be in London. The sun (should be) officially out, our city's parks are lush and green and the music festival season is kicking off with many a great London festival proudly repping the capital. Even if you're not into glitter and glow sticks, there's still loads going on. In fact, there's enough to make you wish you had more than just 30 days to take it all in. Check out our June highlights below and we'll see you out there.
RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar
June 2018 event highlights
This exhibition is dedicated to the incredible collection of personal artefacts and clothing belonging to iconic Mexican, Frida Kahlo. The items had previously been locked away for fifty years following the artist’s death and none of them have been displayed outside of her native country. Expect some exceptional dresses and envy-inducing possessions.
Over the last decade Field Day has slowly become one of London’s very best music festivals. This year, for the first time in its history, it won’t take place in east London’s Victoria Park. But, they're bringing an absolute glut of stars down to Brockwell Park, for their first year in the south.
This three-day festival has some jaw-dropping names acting as headliners: Bjork, LCD Soundsystem and The XX. Boom. Then there’s the All Points East Presents series (June 1-3) – three one-day concerts led by three different acts: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, The National and Catfish And The Bottlemen. In between there are four days of community-driven entertainment on the site, with comedy, film screenings, street food and much more.
London Nights looks at the city after dark through contemporary and historical imagery, from the 19th century through to the present day. The exhibition will look at how photographers have captured the aesthetic of the city at night, present imagery depicting the darker side to capital and how Londoners live their lives after hours.
Go on a journey back in time and study the stories behind the design of the most impressive ocean liners the world’s ever seen. The Titanic, the Normandie, the Queen Mary and the Canberra all feature and the exhibition explores how and why these huge maritime feats of engineering and form still carry so much weight in our collective imagination.
This exhibition explores the early ‘radical moment’ of postmodern British architecture, focusing on works by key protagonists like Terry Farrell, Piers Gough and Jeremy Dixon and their buildings such as MI6, China Wharf in Bermondsey, and No. 1 Poultry in the City.
See four collaborations between artists and scientists, which are giving shape to intangible ideas. Installations by Martina Amati, Daria Martin, Maria McKinney and John Walter, will explore how artists can give shape to the human experience and provoke ideas about our senses.
It wasn’t all about Poirot’s little grey cells or Miss Marple solving murders at the vicarage. In her lifetime, crime writer extraordinaire Agatha Christie wrote 16 plays and a massive 73 novels. Apart from the immortal ‘Mousetrap’, ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ – which Christie adapted in 1953 from an earlier short story – is one of the most famous. Like most of Christie’s work, you can’t say much for fear of ruining the ending. Leonard Vole (a butter-wouldn’t-melt Jack McMullen) is on trial for murdering an older woman who has left everything to him in her will. He insists he’s innocent, but it all rests on the testimony of his wife, Romaine. What will she say on the stand? When Christie adapted her original story, she shifted the focus almost exclusively to the Old Bailey courtroom. Here, Lucy Bailey’s production has the gift of being in the main chamber of London County Hall. Big, austere and grand, it’s the perfect setting for the legal theatrics of Christie’s forensically precise plotting. Some audience members are even addressed as the jury. If the courtroom is a stage, this play is all about performance. Few are as good as Christie at leading us down the garden path, expectations-wise. She constructs her plot like Vole’s barrister, Sir Wilfrid Robarts QC (a charismatic David Yelland), builds his case, before knocking over apparent ‘revelations’ like dominoes. Bailey plays up the melodrama beautifully, in some scenes lighting the judge’s bench like something fro
Just as the production line of British jukebox musicals seems to be running out of steam, here's a sharp new show inspired by '60s mod culture. Carol Harrison's musical is a peppy journey through the career of 1960s pop group 'The Small Faces', and the East End working class youth culture that surrounded them. These four sharp-suited, Vespa-riding 'faces' became local heroes for their music - and snappy dress sense. But according to Harrison's musical, which is endorsed by several former group members, their ride to stardom was beset by corruption, betrayal and tragedy. 'All or Nothing' is transferring to Ambassador's Theatre after opening at Arts Theatre, following a national tour. It's written by, directed by and stars Carol Harrison (of 'Eastenders' fame), alongside fellow telly regular Chris Simmons.
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
At the end of this elegant Agatha Christie thriller, the newly uncovered homicidal maniac steps into a sinister spotlight and warns everyone never to reveal his or her identity. The production recently celebrated its 60th birthday and although Wikipedia and Stephen Fry have both blown the murderer's cover, there is a remarkable conspiracy of silence over 'The Moustrap'. The real mystery of the world's longest-running theatre show is not whodunit but, in its currently mediocre state, whydoit at all? 'The Mousetrap's ticket prices are the only element of this show that isn't stuck fast in the 1950s – although the actors' strained RP does make the odd break for the twenty-first century. Otherwise, this is a walking, talking piece of theatre history and – at £39 for a full-price stalls seat – the most expensive museum exhibit in London. Christie's neat puzzler of a plot is easier to defend. It has defied the inevitably mummifying process of more than 25,000 performances and still possesses an uncanny precision worthy of the mistress of murder's chilling geriatric creation, Miss Marple. In the 60 years since it premiered, its premise, in which six Cluedo-like middle-class stereotypes are imprisoned by snow in a country house while they try to fathom which of them is a raving murderer, has become a cliché, just as the authorities' response to adverse weather conditions (skiing coppers? In Berkshire?) have become a nostalgic memory. It's fascinating to glimpse the ghost of Peter
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
A little girl with pigtails and a terrifyingly bright smile stalks through this parody musical, a revival of an off-Broadway hit that once starred the pre-fame Natalie Portman and Britney Spears. How much you enjoy ‘Ruthless’ slightly depends on how hilarious you find the sight of a small child cursing and battling her way to the top. Oh, and how much you like musical theatre: if you can say ‘Broadway’ without a rolled ‘r’ and spontaneous jazz hands, this show probably isn’t for you. Joel Paley’s book is an unholy mash-up of musical theatre fan favourites ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Mame’ – with a touch of ‘The Bad Seed’ pre-teen psychopathy for good measure. Eight-year-old Tina Denmark has set her heart on the lead role in the school play. Her perky, Stepford Wife-esque mother Judy is cautiously supportive. But then Sylvia, an agent and acting coach who just happens to be in town, crashes her way into their lives and feeds Tina’s tap-dancing ambition. Anya Evans is very funny as little Tina – and so is off-Broadway star Kim Maresca as her mother Judy, who cheerfully denies having any talent, even as her lip wobbles in virtuosic vibrato. The ‘serious bit’, insofar as there is one, comes from the show’s thesis that talent is an inescapable, inherited curse. The idea has a real darkness to it, especially when you think of all the musical theatre greats whose lives were cut short by a desperate need for fame. But the firmly unhorrifying ‘Ruthless’ doesn’t find that darkness, really. Even as
Expressive dance and indulgent dining collide at this supper exploring femininity. American director Kate March’s all-female creative collective will use the tables as a stage while the audience eats, slowly becoming part of the art piece as the dancers interact with them.
Following on from its run at the Coliseum in 2017, ‘Bat Out of Hell: The Musical’ has transferred to the Dominion in a parade of dry ice, skin-tight leather, fire-belching motorbikes – and just a smattering of self-awareness.Really, it’s strange that a jukebox musical of the songs of Meat Loaf took as long as 2017 to hit the stage. Jim Steinman’s songs drip with such mythos – youthful dreams, cars on highways, wild boys, lovelorn girls – that they half-seem destined for this daftly operatic tale of star-crossed lovers Raven (Christina Bennington) and Strat (Andrew Polec). She’s the daughter of tyrant Falco (Rob Fowler), who keeps her under lock-and-key in his penthouse-fortress; he’s the leader of a ‘Mad Max’-esque tribe of street mutants who cannot physically age beyond their late teens. Based on the amount of crotch-grabbing going on, their hormones have clearly gone nowhere.The show careens between those rock ’n’ roll bangers – ‘All Revved Up With Nowhere To Go’; ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’ – and those tinkly piano ballads: ‘I Will Do Anything For Love’; ‘Heaven Can Wait’. You swiftly realise that they all basically tell the same story: of brutish, untameable men who are perfectly happy ravishing their swooning beaus, while offering them little else. And this is the main charge to lay against ‘Bat Out of Hell’: it’s mired in such unreconstructed ideas of romance. It’s partly countered by giving such sentiments over the female cast, so with ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad
Clearly not one to sulk into her P45, Emma Rice has opted to fill the time between her controversial departure from the Globe and the launch of her new company by bringing back one of her most beloved Kneehigh hits. And we should be happy that she did. Her vivid, dreamy, emotionally charged take on Noël Coward’s greatest achievement, ‘Brief Encounter’, played an acclaimed West End season upstairs at the Empire Haymarket back in 2008. Now it’s back under the auspices of the Old Vic, in a co-production with Kneehigh. David Lean’s 1945 film was an exquisite study in agonised longing in which a chance railway café encounter between strangers Laura and Alec (both married with kids to other people) led to them being consumed by guilt-streaked love. It’s a platonic ideal of an affair – their love is pure, virtuous – and possibly actually platonic, the film being a byword for a sort of extreme middle class stiff-upper-lippedness that sees its protagonists experience all the guilt of infidelity and none of the good stuff. It's unworldly, maybe, but few directors alive are as clued in to the lexicon of love as Rice, and she knows exactly what to do with Coward’s classic. Her Laura (Isabel Pollen) and Alec (Jim Sturgeon) are played dead straight. But the world around them is filled with colour and life and music, and is often cartoonishly funny – Beverley Rudd is a scene stealer in a trio of lively roles – in a way that’s unashamedly totally out of whack with the film. And yet the
Name the top ten – maybe top five – most iconic musicals of the '80s and you'll probably name 'Chess', the 1984 collaboration between Tim Rice and ABBA's Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. That's thanks in no part to the success of its songs: the two biggies 'I Know Him So Well' and 'One Night In Bangkok' have enjoyed a life transcendant of the concept album (1984) and stage musical (1986) about rival Cold War chess players. Trevor Nunn's original West End production was a hit, running for three years, but the book's attempts at political satire were largely mocked by critics – a reimagined version crumbled on Broadway in 1988, and there has never been a West End revival… until now! In the fourth of ENO's annual series of semi-staged musical revivals, heavyweight director Laurence Connor will bring 'Chess' back for another bout. Casting is tba, though the series has thus far boasted eye-catching big name stars including Emma Thompson, Glenn Close and Alfie Boe.
Find great things to do all year round
You know those Shoreditch bars that have undergone a costly makeover to look so deliberately dump-like, it just seems desperate? They’re everything Bar Story is not. This rough-around-the-edges dive bar tucked beneath Peckham Rye station doesn’t care about pretence, and that’s what makes it so damn great. It’s not the biggest of boozers and the loos are a bit ramshackle, but boy, has this place got atmosphere. The spacious outdoor seating areas make it – I’d imagine – an ideal spot for alfresco drinking when the sun’s out. That said, when we visited, cosy indoors environs filled with candles and low-lit lamps made it a welcome shelter from the snow. Cocktails are the main event, and I was piddled after just two of them. A Hemingway daquiri packed a fruity punch, while a whisky sour was refreshing and bitter-sweet. They’re modestly priced between £6 and £8, or go between 6pm and 7pm and you’ll snap up an extra drink for £2. Warm, freshly baked sourdough with olives and hummus was pretty tasty, but I had my eye on the thin-crust pizzas being devoured by other punters – a steal at no more than £9 each. Be warned though: service is slow and happy hour queues assemble quickly. It’s not much to look at, but Bar Story is trendy without being stuck up, and its charm has clearly made it a go-to haunt for locals. If you’re after booze, a buzz and a distinct lack of the posers you may get in other parts of town, this is a great place to start.