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What’s in – your guide to fun at home

There are cultural delights galore this week from world-class theatre and film to virtual exhibition tours and concerts in your living room.


Image: Johan Persson

Top of my cultural hit list this week is a free online stream of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire on YouTube. Starring the always brilliant Gillian Anderson (if you haven’t seen her in Netflix’s Sex Education get to it, stat), Ben Foster (Lone Survivor), and Vanessa Kirby (The Crown) the critically acclaimed production was filmed at the Young Vic in 2014 by National Theatre Live. Available to watch until 28 May. 

Also on YouTube is Globe Theatre’s next release The Winter’s Tale (2018) – the theatre has been treating us to free shows throughout lockdown and this one looks like a goodie for satiating your wanderlust. Set in the Sicilian courts and Bohemia, expect festivals, travel, playful costumes and a much-needed dose of escapism (available until 31 May). 

Fancy front row seats at the Royal Opera House? Part of the venue’s #OurHouseToYourHouse series you can watch Kenneth MacMillan experimental and poignant ballet Anastasia, about a woman who believes she is the daughter of the Russian Tsar. The story’s set to the haunting tune of Martinů’s Sixth Symphony. Warning: you may need tissues. Watch until 28 May. 

LOCAL OPTION: Reading’s fantastic Children’s Festival has moved online, Between 23-31 May loads of fun activities will be streamed on FacebookTwitter, and via the new Reading Culture Live platform. Loads of half term fun from live netball skills class, arts and craft activities, music, storytelling, theatre, the list is endless and leaves you a bit breathless. So go to the Facebook page and take a look at the schedule. Just don’t overthink the screen time (ahem, did we ever?)


Calling all film buffs! If you’re in the mood to watch some top-notch content (Come Dine With Me just not cutting it anymore?) then tune into We Are One Festival, starting this weekend. The 10-day global film festival has been co-curated by over 20 film festivals from across the world (including BFI London Film Festival, Cannes and Tribeca), with funds going towards COVID-19 relief funds (29 May – 7 Jun). Watch here.


The Royal Albert Hall is doing its part to keep us entertained with a series of over 30 free live broadcasts filmed from artist’s and musician’s homes whilst the venue is shut. This week you have a rare opportunity to see Ivor Novello-winning producer, writer, singer, multi-instrumentalist and technologist Imogen Heap– if you haven’t heard of her, she’s an absolute creative powerhouse and has won a Grammy for her work with Taylor Swift and was Grammy-nominated as the Composer & Arranger for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on the West End (29 May). Wowzer.

Also on the bill is a live concert from Leeds-born indie band Kaiser Chiefs (of I Predict A Riot fame) and special classic performance for children by the Albert’s Band’s cellist Samara Ginsberg and pianist Leo Nicholson. All ages welcome, plus it’s a great opportunity to get the kids doing something cultural (no, PlayStation doesn’t count). 

And finally, to the joyous cries of over 40s everywhere, Robbie Williams is reuniting with his fellow Take That bandmates for a one-off concert streamed live from their homes. For Take That stans (stalker fans) it’s a big deal – the band hasn’t performed as a whole since 2018. Watch here

LOCAL OPTION: Norden Farm is streaming a smorgasbord of events during lockdown, including The Vinyl Frontier on 26 May– its super popular music trivia. Its host Jeff will be nerding out on New Wave classics by Blondie, Elvis Costello, The Police and The Boomtown Rats. Will you agree with his choices? Who did he leave out? You can buy tickets (£6.50) to watch the show and join the debate.

Exhibitions & Museums

Missed the V&A’s Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk? The museum has released a five-part series on YouTube to take you on a personal tour of the exhibition with its curator Anna Jackson. The exhibit features stunning garments dating back to the 1660s and charts the history of the kimono and its aesthetic and social significance. 

Meanwhile, the Natural History Museum is releasing loads of brilliant content on its YouTube channel with live talks from scientists and the museum’s curators. Topics so far include, the museum’s famous giant blue whale skeleton, whether there’s water on Mars and everything you’ve always wanted to know about dinosaurs. 

And finally, fancy taking a trip (and not the holiday kind)? You can now view a virtual tour of Somerset House’s whacky Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi exhibition. The show brings together work from over 40 artists, designers, and musicians with highlights including works from Beatrix Potter, Tom Dixon, Carsten Höller, plus this cool ‘Mindful Mushroom’ by London-based visual artist Seana Gavin.

LOCAL OPTION: Fancy wandering round a museum for the afternoon? You can do just that (sort of) at the Pitt Rivers, in Oxford, with the museum’s virtual tour. It’s been created with super-groovy tech (it looks a bit like a video game) so kids will love it too. 


Loved The Office? Steve Carell and Greg Daniels are back with a brand new mocumentary series Space Force, Netflix’s first foray into an original sitcom. It’s promising a similar set-up, about a group of colleagues who work at the newly formed Space Force (29 May). Alternatively, if you’re looking for a hard-hitting documentary, also out on the streaming giant this week is Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, which features stories from survivors (27 May). 

Over on BBC Two is a brand new series of QI hosted by Danish pocket rocket Sandi Toksvig. Expect all the usual quirky facts, comedy, and ‘quite interesting answers’ (28 May, 9pm). 

And finally, Bake Off: The Professionals starts this Tuesday (26 May) over on Channel 4, hosted by funnyman Tom Allen and Bake Off break out star Liam Charles. Who knows, with all the banana bread I’ve been making, maybe I’ll be appearing on the show next year?

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