The best culture for homebodies
New streaming gems to enjoy from within the comfort of your own four walls.
Eris Drew’s house music
Eris Drew spent lockdown living out a fantasy: the 42-year-old DJ left behind the big city for a remote cabin in the forest.
“I always thought it was ridiculous,” she laughs. “I’m a house DJ from Chicago – how can I do that in the woods?” But when the pandemic hit her busy touring schedule “like a train coming to an abrupt stop”, the thought of stillness became enticing.
“There was this desire to heal. I think it’s true of all people, but especially as a trans person, getting into nature, outside of the cultural vortex, is very good for the body.”
In the quiet of New Hampshire, as wild turkeys strolled by, Drew recorded her debut album – some 25 years into her career. Songwriting became a way to fuse the past, present and future, all while ensconced in a house that “felt like living in a guitar, just surrounded by this reverberating wood”. Gentle, anxious and euphoric, Quivering in Time shares the transformative power of her 90s-influenced sets. “Music is the technology for connection,” she says. “It’s filled with our collective dreams.”
It made the cabin a home, building a new sense of community even in isolation. Kinetic, time-bending tracks such as Sensation recreate the full-body heat of the club (“I missed the ritual of that fire”); A Howling Wind captures a stark feeling of loneliness; the title track emits fidgety uncertainty, rockabilly tremolo laced with punchy exhalations of breath. It is cleansing and beautiful, but not quite utopian. “That’s how we get through the muckety-muck of life,” she laughs. “We try to transform it.”
Drew is now back on tour, but you can explore her alternate realities from home. After all, she says, “this is the album I used to travel when I couldn’t”. KH
Quivering in Time is released on T4T Luv NRG, 29 October
London film festival
This year’s LFF isn’t just for Londoners, with new films from Jane Campion, Joanna Hogg, Joel Coen and Edgar Wright screening across the UK. And anyone not ready to return to the cinema can stream selected at-home offerings: the buzziest include Philip Barantini’s single-take thriller Boiling Point, starring Stephen Graham as a stressed chef, Panah Panahi’s Cannes darling Hit the Road and the Sundance prize-grabber Flee, an animated documentary about a queer Afghan refugee. Plus the world premiere of the British playwright debbie tucker-green’s ear for eye, adapted from her 2018 play, is on BBC Two and iPlayer. SH
Selected cinemas nationwide and BFI Player, 6 to 17 October
Soho Theatre Live
The total shutdown of in-person comedy coincided with a boom in standup streaming – but even as the medium jolts back into real life, the trend is set to stick around. This month, the London venue immortalises 10 more shows including Desiree Burch’s sex work stories and Kieran Hodgson’s arty bildungsroman. RA
Amazon Prime Video, from 5 November
This exhibition brings together NFTs created by almost 100 artists including Krista Kim, Jeremy Olson and Miao Ying, whose installations, paintings and video works explore digital humanism, geometric structures and the Chinese internet respectively. The show can be accessed via a custom-built online space where you can view exhibition rooms and interact with artists, collectors and other visitors. KM
Unit London, W1S, to 25 September
National Theatre at Home
Originally launched as a free streaming service during lockdown, National Theatre at Home is now an on-demand subscription and rental service. A stellar crop of productions is available to watch online at a fraction of the normal ticket prices. New releases this month include Gillian Anderson in Streetcar and Michael Sheen in Under Milk Wood. MG
The best ways to dip your toe back in the water
Keen to get back out there but wary of the crowds? Try these more low-key events.
Thomas J Price’s bold bronzes
With his large-scale figurative sculptures of everyday contemporary subjects, typically Black men and women, Thomas J Price has become a trailblazing figure in contemporary British art.
“By monumentalisation of the ordinary” – such as a girl texting on her phone – “we are able to critique what we consider important, what we consider valuable within our communities and what we collectively choose to give public space to,” says the London-based sculptor, whose inaugural exhibition, Thoughts Unseen, arrives this autumn.
The works span two decades, from early sculpture and film to stop-motion animation, plus new figurative bronzes. Price wanted to highlight a concern that runs throughout his work, “readdressing historic narratives connected to public sculpture” and interrogating our “assumptions of power”.
The highlight is All In, his largest bronze to date, standing at a mammoth 12ft tall. Price calls it a “psychological portrait that draws our attention to the systemic racial marginalisation within public sculptures of this scale, and subsequent misinterpretation of Black masculinity and identity”. Meanwhile, his 2018 series Lay It Down depicts the hairstyles of Black women and spotlights restrictive beauty standards, and his 2017 Icon series adopts the ancient Egyptian technique of gilding and places sculptures on luxurious quartzite plinths.
The exhibition takes place not far from Bristol, where the statue of Edward Colston was dethroned last summer. It was a historic moment, says Price: “It acknowledged the existence of new contemporary thinking. If we really want to engage with history, and utilise sculptures in public spaces to do so, then there needs to be consultation with the public to get a sense of what people feel. I would like to see monuments look like people that I recognise and relate to, subverting stereotypical heroic images we have been conditioned to expect.” KM
Hauser & Wirth Somerset, 2 October to 3 January
“Girls like sex / Are you stupid or did you forget?” deadpans L Devine on this summer’s straight-talking hit Girls Like Sex. Championed by the likes of Harry Styles and Charli XCX, the rising Whitley Bay pop singer turns blunt, assertive lyrics about insecurity and sexuality into 80s daydreams that will come alive on stage. KH
25 September to 6 October; tour starts Liverpool
Camberley comedy festival
One step down from a full-blown indoor gig, this marquee-based one-dayer has a small but intriguing lineup: Lou Sanders, whose daffy arrogance can make even basic small talk stunningly ridiculous; Lucy Pearman, known for her bizarre, costume-heavy slapstick; and Kae Kurd, who suffuses political hot potatoes with swaggering levity. RA
London Road Recreation Ground, Camberley, 18 September
Those keen for a big-screen outing but wary of a crowded multiplex might test the waters with an arthouse offering – perhaps the latest from French film-maker Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Girlhood). It’s a mysterious fairytale about a little girl, grieving her grandmother, who meets her double in the woods. SH
In cinemas, 19 November; streams on Mubi, 4 February
Playing at two nature reserves, Murmurations is a response to their unique environments. Written by Steve Waters and created by outdoor theatre experts Tangled Feet, its combination of gentle amble, songs, poetry and physical theatre explores what we need from nature – and what nature needs from us. MG
Wicken Fen, nr Ely, 17 to 19 September; Strumpshaw, nr Norwich, 24 to 26 September
The best crowdpleasers
Blockbusters! Bustle! Get both at this autumn’s biggest cultural happenings.
Roy Alexander Weise’s burden
Acclaimed director Weise cannot stay away from The Mountaintop. This is the third time he has tackled Pulitzer winner Katori Hall’s play, set on the eve of Martin Luther King’s assassination. There was the critically acclaimed Young Vic staging in 2016 and a live-streamed version last year in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Now there is a brand new production to mark Weise’s inaugural show as joint artistic director at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, with ’Tomiwa Edun starring as Dr King and Ntombizodwa Ndlovu as the funny and foul-mouthed maid who spars and smokes with King deep into the night.
What keeps Weise coming back to The Mountaintop, after a directorial roll-call that includes the West End transfer of Nine Night, and Master Harold … and the Boys at the National Theatre? Hall put it best, says Weise, when she observed: “The Mountaintop is a play that never ends.”
He continues: “Until we start to see a world that we understand is just and fair and safe and inclusive for all, then this is a play we must visit every single time it feels necessary to remind the world of all the bloodshed and suffering and extraordinary work that people have done before us to make it possible to live in the world today.”
His perspective on Hall’s play has deepened in time. “I made an incredibly optimistic and hopeful version in 2016. Now I really want to show the ugliness that we have all seen; not to make us depressed, but so that we can all think actively about what our roles will be in shaping the future.”
Yet the play is also funny, moving and sexy: “Even when things feel quite challenging there is always laughter and love and light and beauty amid the darkness,” he says. MG
Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, 25 September to 27 October
As the host of Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Simon Amstell was merciless in his quest to puncture pop star egos. These days, he has ditched the put-downs for a standup style that is more thoughtful and empathic but no less brilliant: his latest show, Spirit Hole, revolves round love, enlightenment and hallucinogens. RA
Touring to 9 November
A previously unseen side to the Turner prize-winning artist is revealed in this large-scale exhibition of new works and selected highlights. Although Himid is best known for her figurative sculptures, this show pulls from her early training in theatre design with a series of immersive scenes designed to place visitors both centre-stage and backstage. KM
Tate Modern, SE1, 25 November to 3 July
Nigerian superstar Wizkid’s blockbuster fourth album is a musical world tour visiting global collaborators such as Damian Marley, Skepta and HER. But, most importantly, Made in Lagos celebrates his home town. Move fast if you want to party with the Afrobeat icon: three nights at the O2 can barely hold him. KH
O2 Arena, SE10, 28 November to 1 December
The Last Duel & House of Gucci
Venerated director Ridley Scott is making up for the pandemic with two glitzy blockbusters this autumn. Both feature Adam Driver, duelling with Matt Damon in medieval France in the former, and pursued by a murderous Lady Gaga in 90s Italy in the latter. SH
The Last Duel in cinemas 15 October; House of Gucci from 24 November
The best culture for cosmic voyagers
Shake off the fug of the last 18 months and venture to some far-out cultural extremes.
Sam Campbell’s absurd standup
The walls of Sam Campbell’s flat are carpeted with tiny pieces of paper. “These are my topics,” explains the Australian comic ahead of his new show, Companion, which debuts this month. He angles his webcam to draw special attention to key areas including car number plates, the orange Monzo bank card favoured by travellers, “the Greek island of Crete”, Futurama and “the royal baby”. Which one? “All of them. I tackle every single royal baby.”
The randomness of Campbell’s theme wall is nothing compared to the absurdity of his actual standup shows. The 29-year-old’s persona is that of a twitchily aggressive nerd, a man hampered only by his own extreme weirdness, often accompanied by bizarre PowerPoint presentations. His online videos also make use of his ability to create peculiarly, gloriously terrible graphic design; for his one-off Channel 4 sketch show, Get Real Dude, he combined a roster of eccentric, terrifyingly self-assured characters with lo-fi special effects to brilliantly unsettling effect.
Campbell started bringing technology into his comedy during his days with Aussie sketch trio Skills in Time. He is still technically resident in Australia, where he is widely acclaimed (he won the 2018 Melbourne international comedy festival award; previous recipients include Ross Noble and Hannah Gadsby), but his talents have also been embraced over here: he is a regular in Sky paramedic sitcom Bloods, has appeared in Stath Lets Flats and Pls Like, and has written for the TV version of cult YouTube show Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared.
But he’s not letting his onscreen work distract from his distinctive strain of standup – instead, he’s keen to point out how he is continuing to hone his craft. “I’ve matured a lot as a performer,” he says. “I still scream, but positive screaming. And no spiralling.” RA
Soho Theatre, W1, 13 to 18 September
Our Silver City, 2094
Speculative fiction is at the centre of this eerie exhibition set in Nottingham near the end of the 21st century. Visitors will be able to time travel into a future shaped by resource wars, evacuations and plastic-eating viruses. Expect a ghostly radio station, a temple inspired by spiritual technologies and a selection of remnants, artefacts and artworks. KM
Nottingham Contemporary, 20 November to 18 April
Set in a car park in Bradford, Peaceophobia was inspired by a car rally held by Speakers Corner Collective, who wanted to unpick the prejudice around young Muslim men, their faith and their cars. Zia Ahmed’s script is based on true stories shared by the company and accompanied by cinematic lighting and an original electronic sound score. MG
Oastler car park, Bradford, to 18 September
A Pryor Engagement
The BFI’s retrospective of the unsparing standup and actor Richard Pryor won’t be for the faint-hearted. Running through September to October, it celebrates Pryor’s brutal humour and raw-edged social commentary. Highlights include 35mm showings of the box-office hit Stir Crazy, filmed comedy special Live on the Sunset Strip and the semi-autobiographical Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, which Pryor wrote, directed and starred in. SH
BFI Southbank, SE1, to 4 October
No Bounds festival
The Sheffield festival curates a galaxy of dancefloor stars for a transcendent return to the rave. Lose yourself in Helena Hauff’s gothy techno, India Jordan’s high-stakes intensity and Skee Mask’s trance-like genre fusions – alongside regular circuit fixtures such as Ben UFO and Joy Orbison. KH
Various venues, Sheffield, 15 to 17 October
Ample time to try
Wet your whistle for the latest Bond film with these appetisers.
After a two-year delay, Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, No Time to Die, is finally arriving in cinemas on 30 September. Will its secret weapon, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, drafted in to polish the script, have managed to skewer (or at least soften) some of the franchise’s signature misogyny? Only one way to find out. Until then – and for anyone awaiting Bond’s home release – here are five Bond-adjacent viewing appointments …
Knives Out (2019): Daniel Craig plays detective Benoit Blanc with a camp southern drawl, a reminder of how fun he can be when freed from the stifling chokehold of Bond’s bow tie.
On Now TV
Jane Eyre (2011): No Time to Die isn’t director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s first stab at adapting a British classic. His take on Charlotte Brontë’s gothic novel is creepy, sexy and criminally underrated.
Captain Marvel (2019): In No Time to Die Lashana Lynch is the new 007, the franchise’s first Black, female agent – albeit not literally “the new James Bond”, more’s the pity. Get to know her as fighter pilot Maria Rambeau in 2019’s Captain Marvel.
Killing Eve (2018 to present): As the creator of Killing Eve, No Time to Die co-writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge is certainly well placed to imagine the internal machinations of trained assassins with expensive tastes.
On BBC iPlayer
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969): In what is arguably the greatest Bond film of all time, one-hit wonder George Lazenby must outwit a brainwashed army of Blofeld’s international Angels of Death in the snowy Swiss Alps. SH
Available to rent
Get beyond the velvet rope
How to sneak into the season’s sell-out events.
The success of Feel Good, Mae Martin’s semi-autobiographical sitcom about addiction, gender identity and sexual abuse, has established the droll and skittish Canadian standup as the zeitgeist’s premier comic voice. Unsurprisingly, their rather small-scale UK tour is sold out, but most gigs have waiting lists – join to receive notifications when more tickets are released. RA
5 October to 11 December; starts Manchester
The North Shields star’s victory-lap tour was postponed last year, so it’s little surprise that his September shows are totally sold out. Anyone angling to witness the live debut of his brassy, Springsteen-tinged second album, Seventeen Going Under, can try Twickets – a fan-to-fan, face-value resell scheme designed to thwart the touts. KH
13 to 25 November; starts Leicester
The rescheduled Cush Jumbo-starring Hamlet was very much sold out at the time of going to press. The show will be broadcast online and there will also be £10 lucky dip tickets, which guarantee standing spots but might – if you’re lucky – be upgraded to the best views in the house. MG
Young Vic, SE1, 25 September to 13 November
Turner prize 2021
The annual prize is for work by a British artist – but this year’s shortlist is made up entirely of collectives: Array Collective; Black Obsidian Sound System (BOSS); Project Art Works; Cooking Sections; and Gentle/Radical. It’s mostly sold out at weekends, so go midweek to catch what will be a historic exhibition. KM
Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry, 29 September to 12 January