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pick of the week


Within minutes, these ladies have the audience eating out of their laps - literally. Notorious throughout last year's Edinburgh Festival as the "lesbian trapeze show", their show is really about corsages, hats, pearl chokers, tattoos, flowers, blindfolds, candles and fruit. A series of trapeze acts are linked by indecent vaudeville. Women in the audience are offered the thrill of eating a strawberry from the cleavage of a stranger, but the show's shock factor is very mild: gentle eroticism in the Big Top.

Contact Theatre, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 (0161-274 4400) ends tomorrow, pounds 8



Award-winning choreographer Siobhan Davies has an impressively holistic approach to modern dance, combining live music, striking designs and costumes with thought-provoking, vibrant movement. The resulting mix comes close to dance heaven. Tonight's world premiere of Trespass gives audiences the chance to see her new work and enjoy another performance of last year's ecstatically received Art of Touch. Specially commissioned music for the new piece is by Irish composer, Gerald Barry.

Grand Theatre, Blackpool (01253 28372) 8pm, pounds 10


The grand old lady of photo-journalism, Eve Arnold has been snapping American life since the 1950s. In this exhibition her camera offers a stylish portfolio of political and artistic celebrity which includes Malcolm X, Marilyn Monroe (above) and Joan Crawford. At the beginning of her first shoot with Crawford, the screen diva came out with the immortal line: "If I don't like what you do, you'll never work in Hollywood again." Luckily for us, Crawford did.

The Barbican Art Gallery, Silk St, London EC2, to 18 Aug


A fat stash of drug comedy from comedians Poulter and Duff skips through a jokey, junkie alphabet handing out free trips to anyone in the audience desperate enough to try them. The tone is pseudo-intellectual and the gags will strike a chord with any ingenue who has been duped into buying a quarter of tea leaves or a lump of liquorice. Tonight's free gifts err on the side of caution and legality. Those hoping to get sorted for Es and Whizz are more likely to end up smoking a green pepper.

Newcastle Live Theatre, NE1 (0191-232 1232) 8pm, pounds 8


When healing waters are discovered in a small town, sick people flock by the cart load. But a shattering discovery by Dr Stockmann threatens the new prosperity of the money-spinning spa. Adapted by Arthur Miller, this new production of Ibsen's hard-hitting story opens tonight.

Bristol Old Vic, King St, Bristol BS1 (0117 987 7877) 8pm, pounds 5-pounds 17.50

saturday 11


With Brighton's fest already well underway, the South Coast will really start swinging this weekend when Bournemouth kicks off its own two-week arts party. The D'Oyly Carte, Brodsky Quartet and Mark Lamarr are just some of the big names who will be beside the sea. Today's events include a Battle of the Buskers and an appearance by the Poetry Virgins, five scribes whose diverse stanzas describe "bodies and bras, childhood and cars, sex, sport and drinking".

Bournemouth, Dorset BH1; festival box-office (01202 456456)


Kieslowski was that rare thing, an invigorating pessimist and a philosopher as much in love with beauty as with ideas. Following his death earlier this year, here's another chance to see the auteur's Three Colours trilogy in it's entirety. Blue stars Juliette Binoche as the widow of a composer, drawn back into society after his death by the legacy of his music. White tells the funny story of an emigre's changing fortunes, and Red has the luminous Irene Jacob as a fashion model who becomes intrigued by an eavesdropping judge. A study of liberty, equality and fraternity, Kieslowski's series of films represents an outstanding achievement in European cinema.

The Watershed Cinema, 1 Canon Rd, Bristol BS1 (0117 925 3845) 1-6pm


All things small and beautiful are on show at Kensington Town Hall today, in a giant spread of miniature craftwork (left). Eye-straining delights include classic murals, Georgian "antiques", and tiny, handpainted tea sets. Lilliputian interior decorators will have to choose between furnishing their mini homes with hip Art Deco furniture (with fashionable "tiger skin" covers) or going for the timeless elegance of Regency walnut.

Kensington Town Hall, London W8, 1-6pm, tomorrow 10am-4.30pm, pounds 4.50

sunday 12


They've read the books and seen the telly programme; now take your kids to see the stage show. Roger Hargreaves's boldly drawn cartoon characters take to the stage in a musical that follows the adventures of Mr Happy who loves happy songs and Mr Noisy who likes, you guessed it, loud ones. Their cooly titled mentor is Music Man, who gets everyone singing along to his music machine until little Miss Trouble sticks some bubble mixture in the works. These bouncy stars may lack psychological depth and method motivation, but they certainly know how to have a good time.

Sadler's Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1 (0171-713 6000) 2pm & 4pm, pounds 5-pounds 8.50


Carol is a lonely primary school teacher from St Andrews, David is a scaly fish. Their eyes meet across a crowded aquarium and they fall in love. Lynn Ferguson's one-woman show is a funny, fishy tale that entertained audiences in Edinburgh last year. Another veteran of the festival joins her tonight in the bargain-for-money shape of Geraldine McNulty: 10 women in a one-frock show. Stepping in and out of skirts, donning hats and red noses, McNulty races through some finely observed character comedy. Her various manifestations include an evangelical country singer called Molly Roseville: "God's watching from a distance, but he's a very busy man, so please be patient."

The Tron, 63 Trongate, Glasgow (0141-552 4267) 8pm, pounds 8


Covent Garden's annual parade of professional puppetry will have more Punch and Judys than you can shake a stick at.

Church Gardens, Bedford St, London WC2, 10.30am-5.30pm


You know the kind of thing. Molten metal hyperbole with plenty of leather 'n' bikes 'n' tattoos. Medieval lip-glossed babes with phallic snakes shinning up their jerkins, feather-cut heroes brandishing phallic swords. If you've only ever seen Heavy Metal art on the back of some scary biker's jacket, this is your chance to get a good look at the artistic interface between Celtic designs and Art Nouveau, Victorian Gothic and Egyptian imagery. Visitors can browse through 50 record cover paintings (left), stage sets, props and costumes. An exhibition that grabs you by the throat and shakes you around a bit.

Salford Museum, Peel Park, Salford M5 (0161-736 2649)


monday 13


Ever wondered what the Teutonic Ernie Wise was like? According to the Goethe Institute he's a surreal performer called Loirot, the star of tonight's Pappa Ante Port. The film is the first in a three-week season that hopes to prove that Germans, with their reputation for terminally depressing cinema, can be funny too. Other screen side-splitters include Making Up, which takes the lid off female friendship and Go, Trabi, Go (above), the story of a holidaying family and the car from hell.

The Goethe Institute, 50 Princes Gate, London SW7 (0171-411 3400) 7.30pm


The Deadwood stage arrives in the Midlands tonight, with a thigh-slapping Gemma Craven, kitted out in cowgirl tassles and peaked cap. Stephen McGann plays Wild Bill Hickcock and the musical is packed with rousing numbers like "Windy City" and "The Black Hills of Dakota". Whip crack away.

Alexandra Theatre, Station St, Birmingham B5 (0121-643 1231) 7.30pm


One of Britain's most talented and innovative guitarists, Richard Thompson, has been playing wild, dangerous guitar for over 20 years. Blurring the boundaries between electric and acoustic music, the introspective singer-songwriter performs one great song after another. Tonight Thompson will be offering a stack of affecting tunes from his new album You?Me?Us?. Check out a guitar hero.

The Dome, 29 New Rd, Brighton (01273 709709)


More bloody performance art. A couple of weeks ago we had Orlan, a self- mutilating French artiste who likes to put herself under the scalpel. Not to be outdone, Italy's Franko B hits the capital tonight using his "own drawn blood as a symbol of carnal reality". Publicity suggests that Franko's performance as a "mute body-object, achromatic and cadaverous" is a "stark portrait of the existential self".

ICA, The Mall, London SW1 (0171-930 3647) 8pm pounds 5

tuesday 14


After playing Withnail, Grant was dismayed to find himself stereotyped in roles that called for a similarly morbid mien. Here, the tomb-faced star reads from diaries which chart his career from that first, cult movie to the indescribably appalling Hudson Hawk. Casting a sharp, satirical eye over a landscape of film celebrities and wannabes, Grant reveals himself to be a witty raconteur, unfraid to ruffle a few Hollywood feathers.

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Quarry Hill, Leeds LS2, 5.30pm, pounds 2


Algerian born Pierre Benususan is a musician's musician, whose compositions have been described as orchestral music for the acoustic guitar. Quite simply, critics and audiences can't get enough of him. Tonight he teams up with Didier Malherbe for a melting pot of sounds from North Africa, America, India and Brazil.

Purcell Room, RFH, South Bank, London SE1 (0171-960 4242) 7.30pm, pounds 10


This moving story of two Armenian immigrants brought together in an arrranged marriage marks the directorial debut of Peter Brook's daughter Irina. Aram is a photographer, Seta his "mail order" bride. After surviving the Turkish massacres of 1915, they travel to America, where they learn to survive and to love one another.

BAC, Lavender Hill, London SW11 (0171- 223 2223) 8pm, pay what you can


Somewhere between theatre and ballet exists the mighty Maly Drama Theatre of St Petersburg. Based on the only novel to be banned by the Gorbachev government, this latest production follows a dizzying carnival of drop- outs, drunks, criminals and junkies, conscripted into the construction armies of Siberia. As men are sucked through snow holes, and lovers on a flying piano play Mozart with their toes, Gaudemus drenches the viewer with memorable images. Audiences for tonight's premiere can grab two tickets for the price of one.

Newcastle Playhouse, Barras Bridge, NE1 (0191-230 5151) 7.30pm, pounds 8-pounds 15

wednesday 15


Tim Booth gets a bit handy with the camera in this new exhibition which brings together 35 photographs of famous and not so famous mitts. Inspired by Albrecht Durer's "Praying Hands", the photographer snapped these studies of sportsmen and women, musicians and dancers in black and white. The pictures, which include Jeffrey Archer's hands (perhaps with pen poised trembling above his latest hardback masterpiece?) demonstrate the strength, skill and character of their owners.

The Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park, London SW11, 11am-7pm


The barefoot, profoundly deaf and fabulously talented percussionist plays a mixed programme which premiere's a number of new pieces. Among them are a new work by Django Bates. Look forward to hearing an acoustic assault that moves from a featherlight touch on the marimba to drum rolls that rattle against the walls

like gunfire.

Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool L1 (0151-709 3789) 7.30pm, pounds 6-pounds 17


The show that gives a whole new meaning to prison camp starts a national tour today. Based on the popular late-night TV series, this musical blows life into the cardboard japes of jack-booted warress Joan "The Freak" Ferguson and the other lovely ladies of the laundry. In a new twist, English flower Lily Savage finds herself slammed up in the infamous nick, wrongly accused of shop-lifting, prostitution and murder. Cat fight for a ticket.

Lyceum Theatre, 55 Norfolk St, Sheffield S1 (0114 2769922) 7.45pm, pounds 8- pounds 12


Those squeaky little friends of Satan are the object of enquiry tonight in a spooky ramble through the grounds of Wakehurst Place in West Sussex. Walkers will have the opportunity to discover the real bat cave, moving through known habitats with electronic detectors to seek out the different species. Scaredy cats can stick to the short slide show.

Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, Sussex RH17 (0181-332 5067) 8pm, pounds 3

thursday 16


Combining mask theatre with music from Bach to Bacharach, the Trestle company's new production explores Nineties rites ofpassage. The relentlessly touring group have recently taken their big-headed drama to Australia, Uzbekistan and China. Now it's Warwick's chance to lap up this professional mix of comedy, suprise and pathos.

Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry CV4 (01203 524524) 7.45pm, pounds 6.95


Originally intended as a seven-minute filler for the Eurovision Song Contest, this traditional step dancing has got completely out of hand. The video of Riverdance has become the biggest selling music video ever, fans take out personal ads in desperate last-minute bids for tickets and scandalous sackings plague the performers. After taking America by storm the high stepping gang are back in Britain. Watch them and decide whether they deserved the hype or whether they should have remained a foil for Terry Wogan's more understated talents.


The archetypal rebel and bequiffed dream boy of a thousand bedroom walls sulks his way through this classic teen pic by Nicholas Ray. Dean, who early death preserved his good looks in celluloid aspic, is great as the problem teen, getting into fights with the other kids and trouble with his middle-class parents. Natalie Wood provides some romantic sympathy.

NFT, South Bank, London SE1 (0171- 928 3232) 7.30pm


In contrast to the bumping and grinding of other R&B men today, rising star Tony Rich pushes subtle, hooky dissections of male-female pas de deux. His latest album is called Words and for once, these are worth listening to. Mid-paced in tempo, Rich's gospel-trained voice delivers a smooth set that includes "Ghost", a touching tribute to a father that died at the start of his career.

The Clapham Grand, London SW11 (0171-344 0044)