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Spring breakout! The London culture to book now




Spring breakout! The London culture to book now

t almost doesn’t seem possible. Going out? Like, out out? To do stuff? Yes, it’s happening – the world is reopening, slowly, and even though it’ll be socially distanced, and a lot of big events are yet to announced, you can already book some amazing culture in London. Remember though, all these opening dates are dependent on the government announcements over the next few weeks, so they could always change. Nonetheless, we can’t actually wait, so here’s our pick of the spring awakening.


Alice: curiouser and curiouser

Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet Alice in Wonderland

The inquisitive young woman who first went down a rabbit hole is arguably one of the most influential fictional characters of all time. This fabulous new exhibition explores how she has inspired art and culture from dance to fashion, literature to photography, painting to theatre. Something for everyone, from mad hatters to respectable people.

Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty

The rejection of conventional beauty and finding the poetry in everyday life is the focus of radical 20th century artist Jean Dubuffet – and while we’re all sick to death of the everyday things that have surrounded us for the past year, this show might just allow us a new perspective on the ordinary.

Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy

Dance of Peace

/ Estate of Eileen Agar/Bridgeman images

With painting, sculpture, photography, collage and ceremonial hats, the experimentalist artist Eileen Agar (she didn’t much like being called a Surrealist) explored sexual desire, classicism, nature and the unconscious with wit, verve, dynamism and originality. This is the biggest exhibition of her work to date.

The American artist (best known for his Cremaster Cycle, and being Björk’s ex) returns for his first solo museum show in the UK for over a decade, with another stunning film that uses choreography and the figure of a hunter pursuing wolves across the wilderness to trace the tale of Diana and Actaeon, interwoven with cosmology and contemporary American political narratives. It’s likely to be baffling but beautiful.

David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy 2020

No. 125, 19th March 2020

/ David Hockney

If you’re keen to indulge in deep lockdown bolthole-envy, this show of 116 new iPad pictures – created on the tablet with a stylus and then made into a print – by the British artist, made at his Normandy home last year as the world slowed to a stop, will have you gnashing your teeth. Still, they’re very, very lovely.

Horoscope of Iskandar Sultan, 1411

/ Wellcome Collection

How much do you know about art, design and culture from Iran? Not a lot, probably, and this, yes, epic show wants to change that, by exploring the last 5,000 years of this great civilisation through some astonishing objects, from lavish ceramics to exquisite paintings, intricate textiles and fabulous photography.


Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Melissa Jacques and Noah Thomas as Margaret and Jamie

This day should be marked on every calendar: musical theatre is back. It may not be scientifically proven, but we think it’s obvious that people singing in sparkly costumes will save us. Thank God, then, that the show kicking us off is Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the tale of a teen from Sheffield who just wants to wear a dress to his high school prom. If you need us, we’ll be enthusiastically applauding and crying into our warm white wine. Apollo Theatre,; from May 20

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Going to the Globe is a summer rite of passage in London. Last year we missed all the rituals: from packing several layers in case of inclement weather to the moment in every performance where an actor has to stop for a bit while a helicopter roars overhead. Pandemic-proof the Bard may be (he wrote King Lear during the plague, did you know?), but we’re glad to have him back – and what more joyful reopening than A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Courtney Bowman as Anne Boleyn

This phenomenal musical theatre success story, which brings Henry VIII’s six wives back to life and turns them into pop princesses, was due to have its opening night on Broadway on the very same night that it shut down. The show’s return to the West End (after a false start in December disrupted by lockdown 746, or whatever it was by then) will hopefully bring things full circle, and allow these queens to continue on their journey to world domination.

One of the things we’ve missed most about going to the theatre is great writers confronting the issues of the day. So we’re triply excited for this triple bill of short new London-set plays at the Lyric Hammersmith, by Tanika Gupta, Simon Stephens and Roy Williams. From a man forced to confront the racist views of his late father to a black security guard at Westfield who witnesses a crime, the plays will interrogate themes of race, identity and belonging.

It’s true – it will soon once again be legal for men with a laissez-faire attitude to clothes to sweatily writhe around in front of the general public. Surely there’s no greater sign of the recovery. And to make it a truly cathartic experience, tickets include bottomless prosecco delivered to your seat if you book before August. Probably best to make sure you eat your tea beforehand.


English National Ballet presents five works by renowned choreographers and rising talents that were created and filmed last year, and now appear live on stage for the first time. Includes pieces by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant , Yuri Possokhov, ENB Associate Choreographer Stina Quagebeur and Arielle Smith. We can’t wait to hear the soft thud of feet on boards filtering through music by Shostakovich, Purcell, Strauss and more.

Abigail Prudames as the Marquise and Joseph Taylor as Valmont

/ Emma Kauldhar/Northern Ballet

The London premiere of Northern Ballet’s new production Dangerous Liaisons, based on the French 18th century epistolary novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. This story of sex, love, envy and deceit among the decadent French aristocracy is set to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, played by the Northern Symphonia. On the same bill is Contemporary Cuts, a selection of excerpts from works by contemporary choreographers including Cathy Marston and Jonathan Watkins.


Riz Ahmed picked up his first ever Oscar nomination for his role in this visceral indie, which has been out in the US for months but will only make its way to this side of the Atlantic this spring (sound familiar? A similar thing happened with Promising Young Woman – that’s now been announced for Sky Cinema and Now on April 16). Ahmed plays a heavy metal drummer left reeling when he suddenly loses his hearing.

Emma Stone


Do we need a 101 Dalmations prequel? We were erring towards ‘no’ until we watched the trailer for this unhinged Cruella de Vil origin story, starring Emma Stone stomping around Seventies London in a series of punky outfits. Her De Vil is an aspiring fashion designer, who intrigues scary style maven Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson). Directed by I, Tonya’s Craig Gillespie and with a script from The Favourite scribe Tony McNamara, expect something spikier and darker than your average Disney fare.

Florian Zeller’s ingeniously fractured, heartbreaking play about an elderly man with dementia has now been made into a multi-award-winning movie, directed by the playwright and starring Anthony Hopkins as the titular patriarch, with Olivia Colman as his frustrated, stretched daughter. Astonishingly it’s Zeller’s screen debut, and it’s up for a best picture Oscar.


Lin-Manuel Miranda’s other musical sensation is finally making its way to the big screen after the now inevitable delay. The action unfolds over the course of three days, unpicking the impact of gentrification in a Latino neighbourhood in New York. Original Hamilton cast member Anthony Ramos takes the lead role of bodega owner Usnavi, with Crazy Rich Asians’ Jon M. Chu on directing duties.


It was one of the first London venues to reopen after the first lockdown, and now this Camden favourite is looking to repeat the trick. Things will kick off on May 17 with a live band taking us through a night of neo-soul classics, and from then it’s a strong line-up: Dele Sosimi’s Afrobeat Orchestra (May 19, 20), James Yorkston (May 22), Camilla George (June 2), Zara McFarlane (June 5) and more.

Soho’s favourite jazz haunt was another of the venues to make a bold return in the autumn of 2020, with the traditional club layout tweaked ever so slightly (think sophisticated see-through screens between the booths) to make it Covid-secure. Reuben James reopens the place on May 20, with Osibisa (May 29), Lokkhi Terra (June 13) among the upcoming highlights.

Brixton Courtyard

/ Jake Davis

This relatively new venue is the offspring of Brixton Jamm, a popular late-night spot that moved things outside in the summer of last year. It’s a music-focused affair, with DJs spinning tracks to people sitting in booths, with drinks and street food on offer. A lot of the early events have sold out, but there are still tickets left for the likes of Joe Goddard (April 25), Tristan Da Cunha B2B Voigtmann (May 7) and Crazy P (May 21), with free entry on many days.


What London’s Studying Now




What London’s Reading Now: the top five hot titles

What White Persons Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition by Emma Dabiri (Penguin, £8)

From the Irish Nigerian writer of Never Contact My Hair comes this essay which troubles the entire genre of anti-racism guides that have grow to be the new darlings of the publishing field. Putting black squares on your internet site just doesn’t slice it. Purchase it below

Klara and the Sunlight by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber, £20)

Klara, an artificial pal – ie a robot – to young Josie, is curious to master much more about the odd entire world close to her, like the sophisticated emotions of individuals. Set in an imaginary futuristic town somewhere in the US, the Nobel Prize winner’s seventh novel packs a devastating emotional punch with light willpower. Buy it below

Detransition, Toddler by Torrey Peters(Serpent’s Tail, £14.99):

Could this be the most unconventional enjoy tale ever published? Reese, a trans woman breaks up with her girlfriend, Amy, also trans, who then detransitions, only to impregnate his boss, Katrina when Katrina becomes expecting, Reese has the possibility to turn out to be a mother. Extensive detailed, albeit controversially, for this year’s Woman’s Prize. Purchase it below

Letters to Camondo by Edmund de Waal (Chatto, £14.99):

Subsequent the success of his bestselling The Hare with Amber Eyes, de Waal imagines by way of a series of created-up letters to Rely Moïse de Camando, the lives and turbulent moments of the rely and his household, as he wanders via their treasure-crammed Parisian palace, the Musee Nissim de Camondo, unchanged due to the fact 1936. Invest in it in this article

Editor’s Preference: Bear by Marian Engel (Daunt, £9.99):

Hailed as an erotic masterpiece when it was initially printed in the 1970s, this Canadian feminist tale, posted in the British isles for the initially time, about a woman obtaining sexual intercourse with a bear in the wilds of northern Ontario, is fully nutty but oddly beguiling. Purchase it right here

This checklist has been compiled with many thanks to and Daunt Books

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