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The staying in boredom buster

The sun's taken a leave of absence (no surprises there) but there’s still fun to be had indoors with my curated guide to online theatre, music, tv and culture this week.


I’m going to be tuning into I May Destroy You, a new BBC One consent drama created by Chewing Gum writer/star Michaela Coel, (out on Mon June 8, 10.45pm). It draws on her own experience and also stars the excellent RSC actor Paapa Essiedu (Hamlet, 2019). Cole plays Arabella, an aspiring author who with hours to complete a draft of her second book plans to pull an all-nighter – but is soon tempted to join a friend on a night out…

Cool headshot! Sky Documentaries has a stellar line up right now now including Hillary. The four-parter takes an intimate look at the former First Lady and presidential candidate’s life, with behind-the-scenes footage of her 2016 bid to become the first female President, plus interviews with the Clinton clan. (On a Hillary roll? Acclaimed US novelist Curtis Sittenfeld’s new one, Rodham

We’re also looking forward to catching up with David Attenborough’s new original series for Sky Nature. Take your pick from Kingdon of Plants, Galapagos, Micro Monsters or Flying Monsters, all equally awe-inspiring (ever heard of a pterosaur? Nope us neither) and narrated in classic Attenborough style.

The hotly anticipated second season of Ryan Murphy’s (of Glee, American Horror Story and The Politician fame) Pose drops on Netflix this week. For those who haven’t seen it (quick, binge watch season one pronto) the show’s set in 80s/90s NYC and explores the underground ballroom culture scene through the lens of the African-American and LatinoLGBTQ experience. Gritty, glamorous and at the costumes are totally fab. Available from 11 Jun.


Audience participation at the theatre can be a deal breaker for some, but Bristol-based theatre group Uninvited Guests have found a way to make it cool (and far less cringe) in their live Zoom show Love Letters at Home (above). Before the show, the audience send in song requests and dedications to loved ones to create an intimate and unique performance each night. Tickets by donation (until 26 Jun).

The Old Vic is finally jumping on the online bandwagon this week and will now be streaming shows on its YouTube channel for free, starting with Olivier Award-winning A Monster Calls (2018). It’s about a young boy who is visited by a monster every night, whilst his mother is suffering from cancer. A must see (until 11 Jun).

Image: Johan Persson

Fancy seeing Tom Hiddleston in your front room? Say a big thanks to the National Theatre then, as its next free stream is Shakespeare’s Corolianus starring the Hollywood hotty (until 11 Jun).

A new digital reading of The Mountaintop, Katori Hall’s Olivier award-winning play, set on the eve of Martin Luther King’s assassination, will be streamed for free by Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre on Wed June 10 at 7.30pm. It aims to raise funds to support the legal costs incurred by BlackLivesMatter protestors in the US. The Exchange’s Joint Artistic Director Roy Alexander Weise reunites the stars of his 2016 Young Vic production, with Gbolahan Obisesan as King and Ronke Adékoluejo as the maid he talks to in his hotel room in Memphis. See here and available to watch until June 15.

The Mountaintop: Gbolahan Obisesan and Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo reunited for a digital reading

Also this week, it’s last call to see one of the Bard’s lesser known plays, The Merry Wives of Windsor, courtesy of The Globe – expect all the drama of your typical Shakespeare play (we’re talking marriage, wealth, jealousy and lies). Available until Jun 14.

Soho Theatre On Demand: Fleabag live

And if you’re a fan of both TV series… can stream Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag monologue, recorded at Wyndham’s theatre in London where it sold out last summer. It’s available on Soho theatre’s On Demand site and on Amazon Prime. Money raised goes towards charities edicated to supporting those affected by Covid-19 pandemic including the National Emergencies TrustNHS Charities Together and Acting for Others, which provides emotional and financial support to all theatre workers in times of need.


Graeae’s Reasons to be Cheerful. Photo by Patrick Baldwin

Looking for a reason to be cheerful during lockdown? Well Graeae’s brilliant programme of digital shorts, Crips Without Constraints, provides plenty! The disabled-led theatre company is currently sharing a 2017 recording of their infectious musical tribute to Ian Dury and the Blockheads, produced in association with Coventry’s Belgrade. A coming-of-age story, Reasons to be Cheerful blends British Sign Language, hit songs and creative captioning. Available to watch online until Aug 3.

Hugh Quarshie and Lucian Msamati as Othello and Iago. Photo by Keith Pattison (c) RSC

Othello with Hugh Quarshie and Gangs of London star Lucian Msamati, Antony and Cleopatra with Josette Simon and the very funny Much Ado About Nothing with Edward Bennett and Michelle Terry, are among six RSC productions available to watch free on BBC iPlayer. A contemporary staging of Romeo and Juliet starring Karen Fishwick and Bally Gill as the young lovers was broadcast on BBC 4 on Sunday June 7. Coventry actor Gill won the Ian Charleson Award for his portrayal of Romeo. 

Romeo and Juliet., 2018. Photo by Topher McGrillis (c) RSC

Emma Rice’s exuberant adaptation of Angela Carter’s last novel Wise Children, made with Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, the Old Vic, Oxford Playhouse and York Theatre Royal, is also available to stream on BBC iPlayer until June 10 as part of the Culture in Quarantine programme.

Wise Children: Happy Birthday Nora and Dora with Grandma Chance. Photo by Steve Tanner

Corona-nation is Coventry-based EGO Performance Company’s weekly soap opera – and it’s is attracting thousands of views across the globe! The first three episodes received more than 7,500 views. Written, directed and filmed by members, episodes are being funded by the Coventry City of Culture Trust. They’re released every Friday on their Facebook page at 7pm. 


If you didn’t manage to see the UK tour, which was unfortunately cut short by the coronavirus outbreak, you can make up for it by watching a 12-minute film version of Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes from Home. It’s humorously performed tongue-in-cheek by the dancers from their homes – on tables, in living rooms, kitchens and a variety of lounge-wear, even towels and a turban!

And finally, for ballet buffs, this week The ROH is streaming Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée (The Wayward Daughter). It’s a love story inspired by the Suffolk countryside featuring humour, elements of folk dance, maypole and, erm, dancing chickens! Watch June 12 – 26.

LOCAL OPTION: Coventry City of Culture is supporting  local organisation Wriggle Dance Theatre to create bite-sized creative dance sessions for children aged 2 to 5. Watch them for free online on Facebook and YouTube.


On the home movie reel this week, Knives Out (2019) comes to Amazon Prime Video. It’s a comedy whodunnit with more Hollywood names than you can shake a stick at including Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Toni Collette and Chris Evans (no, not that one). Available from 12 Jun.

Elsewhere, on Curzon Home Cinema, my top pick this week is Misbehaviour, a portrait of race and feminism in the 1970s. The plot is based on the true events of the 1970 Miss World pageant where, not only was the first black woman crowned, but the event was crashed by the Women’s Liberation Movement. Charming, funny and feminist – just the way we like it. Also worth watching this week is Oscar winning film Parasite, a dark comedy about class and wealth in Korea.


Seattle-based musicians (Pearl Jam, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Macklemore and more) are teaming up this week for a virtual concert, All in WA, to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts across Washington state. You can watch the show live here, or it will be available on Amazon Prime after it airs.

Or, on this side of the pond, singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus is performing a set from her home, part of the Royal Albert Home sessions.


If you’re looking for a cultural fix, BBC iPlayer has a brilliant mini series Museums in Quarantine which takes a look inside national museum collections since we’ve been in lockdown. Half an hour episodes include an exploration of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, Tate Britain, Tate Modern (above) and The British Museum, the latter of which also has a revamped online collection for us to view at home. It’s the biggest virtual database in the world, with over four million objects and artefacts to scroll through including loads from Ancient Egypt. The collections also include over a quarter of a million new object photographs, including portraits by Damien Hirst. 

And finally, fans of The Clash can watch a film about the Museum of London’s iconic tribute exhibition London Calling, including photographs by the band’s tour photographer, Pennie Smith; behind-the-scenes studio footage; sketches by NME reporter and artist Ray Lowry that have never been exhibited in public before. Very cool.

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