The Diary: Soho Theatre; Campus; The Factory; Shakespeare's Globe; V&A Museum of Childhood
Friday 25 March 2011
What lies beneath?
Exciting times at Soho Theatre. This week, the artistic director Steve Marmion laid out his vision for an overhaul of the Dean Street venue, including a new 150-seat comedy and cabaret space in the basement. Soho Theatre Downstairs will open in June and will have a "1920s Berlin meets 1950s New York with a good measure of 2010s Soho" feel, seating audiences around tables and serving up three shows a night until 1am. Among the acts lined up to play there are Bo Burnham, Stewart Lee and Russell Kane. The bar, a prime, underused, spot of Soho real estate, will also be redone.
New works programmed for the theatre spaces include Anthony Neilson's Realism and a co-production of Don Giovanni with OperaUpClose, whose La Boheme won an Olivier two weeks ago. Further ahead, Kim Noble and Tim Minchin are both on commission to Soho. Minchin, who first performed at the theatre in 2006 before moving on to The O2, is working on a new play, The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi, about a 19th-century clown. "Soho theatre was pivotal in my decision to pursue a career in the UK," says Minchin. "It is so often ahead of the game. There is nowhere quite like it."
Showcase to showtime
Not before time, the creator of Smack the Pony and Green Wing, Victoria Pile, is returning with a new comedy. Campus, set in the fictional Kirke University, will screen on Channel 4 from 5 April. The semi-improvised sitcom piloted on the channel's Comedy Showcase in 2009 when it attracted good reviews and a smattering of criticism for describing Stephen Hawking as a "famously disabled spastic" in the first minute. I've now seen the first two episodes and can confirm that that joke, from David Brent-esque vice chancellor Jonty de Wolfe (Andy Nyman), has made the cut, but there is still much to appreciate in Campus. Like Green Wing, the hour-long episodes have a surreal, stop-start momentum, a woozy soundtrack from Jonathan Whitehead and a familiar cast of characters: lecherous lecturer Matt Beer and bespectacled spod Imogen Moffatt are already set to be the show's Guy and Caroline. Watch out, too, for the administrative office, staffed by rising stars Sara Pascoe and Will Adamsdale.
Making an exhibition of themselves
The Factory is back and taking over a venue near you. Tonight, the avant-garde company, whose deconstructed, site-specific Hamlet has won a starry following (Ewan McGregor is a fan) provide the centrepiece for Lates at the V&A. Their promenade piece will take place all over the museum. "We've got free rein," says Liam Evans-Ford, the producer. "The cast won't know where they're going. Only the MC will." Then, from 11 April, the company takes up residence at The Rose, Kingston, performing Hamlet, The Seagull, Round 2, and "a few flashmobs" for the first time under one roof. It's likely to be the last chance to see the production that made The Factory's name. "It's the end of an era," reveals Evans-Ford. "We might do the odd Hamlet but we're moving on to different things." Not least a new version of The Odyssey, which will hit the stage – and the streets – in autumn.
Coming to the end...
When All's Well That Ends Well opens at Shakespeare's Globe next month, it will be the first staging of the comedy at the theatre. Which raises the question: how many more of Shakespeare's plays have yet to have their moment in the moonlight at the home of the Bard? The answer is four: King John and Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3. Might a history-play cycle be in the offing? "We do try to get through the kings," I'm told. "2010 was Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and Henry VIII. Next year we're hosting all 37 plays in a different language, each by a different international company."
Lots to get excited by
A print of Bambi, by Jamie Reid, and Billy Childish's woodcut of a boy on a horse are among 50 artworks up for auction at the V&A Museum of Childhood on Thursday night. The sale will raise funds for Chats Palace, an arts community space in Hackney. Among the local contributors are Gavin Turk, Cornelia Parker and Tom Hunter, who started his career at Chats, on a photography workshop. Known for his seamy modern take on the Old Masters, Hunter has donated a photograph of an East London shop. For those unable to attend on 31 March, an online auction runs to 28 March (www.chatspalace.co.uk).
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