FEATURE: Lockdown Larder 5

Brian Butler February 28, 2021

It now looks wise of Brighton Fringe to have announced  an opening date of 28 May. The Government’s much-leaked road map out of lockdown gives tentative dates for live entertainment with an audience. On 17 May, at the earliest, theatres and indoor venues can open with the same social distancing rules as last December. There will be an audience limit of 1000 or 50 per cent capacity – whichever is the lower. Outdoor venues will have a limit of 4000 or 50 per cent,  with lower limits for seated events which seems illogical  – the road map seems to indicate a much lower capacity if  you’re seated in the safer environment of outdoors rather than indoors – which presumably is wrong ! Watch this space.

Nica Burns, the boss of Nimax Theatres, has quickly said she’ll open her 6 West End theatres as soon as possible, but there are big issues here for all theatre producers . The Government has said these are earliest dates, and it will confirm them 7 days before the due date. In practical terms this is crazy and unworkable. A week’s notice for audiences, creatives and all other venue staff seems impossible , let alone the problem of advance ticket sales that may yet again have to be refunded.  There’s also the issue of whether so-called “vaccine passports ” will be needed. But let’s keep optimistic and see – hopefully the Fringe can pull something together and give us a kick-start to the summer. Watch this space for news of that too.

In the meantime Glyndebourne  has announced its  opera and concert season will run from 20 May till 29 August. A new productions of Janacek’s Katya Kabanova, Rossini’s Il turco in Italia and Verdi’s Luisa Miller willplay alongside a revival of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. Wagner’s Tristan Und Isolde will be presented in a semi-staged concert with full orchestra onstage.

The Orchestra of the Enlightenment and the London Philharmonic will stage a series of concerts. Info at

The 25th Human Rights Watch Film Festival will take place online at Barbican Cinema On Demand from 18-26 March. Two films in this year’s programme focus on LGBTQ+ rights and representation. On closing night Unapologetic  features the fight for the ivelihood of Chicago’s Black residents by young Black Queer women.

I Am Samuel, streaming throughout the festival, and on BFI Player, is an intimate portrait of a Queer Kenyan man, torn between duty to his family and his dreams for his future in a country where his love is criminalised. There are also online discussions with filmmakers. for full programme .

New York City’s Club Cumming , Daniel  Nardicio and Samuel Benedict present a birthday celebration to mark Liza Minelli’s 75th birthday on 12 March. Love Letter to Liza features a glittering array of stars, including Joel Grey, Lily Tomlin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chita Rivera, Joan Colkins, Ute Lemper, Nathan Lane and many more. Tickets from

Brighton-born singer/songwriter Alex  James Ellison, whose marvellous online musical Fiver was reviewed in Scene last year has now released a cast recording of the terrific songs from the show. details at

And Brighton-born singer Kat Carson, who now lives in Amsterdam, is releasing a new abum with her band The Wandering Bard. It features a track in collaboration with Brighton Early Music Festival Community Choir, produced across 4 countries in lockdown. The album re-tells the life of Henry VIII, using his won words, the music being attributed to the King. Details of the album release at or Bard Without Borders.

Tv still has lots to offer : my recent favourites include: Stan and Ollie, starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly in a film depiction of Laurel and Hardy’s farewell tour of the UK and Ireland in 1953. There are brilliant impersonations, some great comic re-enactments and lots of childhood memories for me at least.

Neil Brand is just brilliant at dissecting the last 100 years of musical theatre in his series Sound of Musicals, which is on BBC iplayer. Sadly a later series , The Sound of Television – which covers theme tunes, ad jingles and stings, is not available right now – I assume because of the many copywright issues involved. Look out to see if it pops up. It’s a brilliant history of music which from the corner of our living rooms has shaped our lives and buying habits .

Much has been written about the amazing Russell T Davies series It’s A Sin, many are re-watching and its about to come out on dvd and appear on US television. Well worth another watch on all4.  It seems Russell struggled to get it on air and has to reduce the episodes from 8 to 5 – how wrong the broadcasters were – it’s a dark, funny true, sad history of AIDS in 1980’s London. If you’ve so far avoided it, you’re missing something very important.

The Oscar Wilde classic The Picture Of Dorian Gray has been reimagined . using elements of radio plays, film, documentary and theatre. Staged online by Barn Theatre, Cirencester, collaborating with the Lawrence Batley, New Wolsey, Oxford Playhouse and Theatr Clwyd theatres.  This version is by Henry Filloux-Bennett, with direction by Tamara Harvey.

The cast includes Stephen Fry, Russell Tovey, Alfred Enoch ,Joanna Lumley and Fionn Whitehead. The show runs from 16-31 March.

Information at

Finally a shout-out for BBC 3’s wonderful uplifting documentary Lily-A Transgender Story , which follows a young Welsh person’s journey to gender re-assignment. Look out soon for my review of it.

Happy viewing