Hammer horror, queer dinners, Sgt Pepper, the Improvathon, Light Night. Get out and stay out
Writing On The Wall | Various venues | May 1-31
As the forces of reaction gather strength across the world, it’s little wonder that the Writing on the Wall festival (or WoWFest2017 to give it its hashtag-friendly name) has chosen ‘Revolution’ as its theme this year. After all, this longstanding literary festival has always been more interested in barricades than Bloomsbury.
This year’s event welcomes a battalion of well known writers, artists and others to consider topics ranging from the nature of truth to the spirit of independence in music at venues across the city
Highlights include Chocolat author Joanne Harris with the Storytime Band at the Philharmonic Music Room, Phil Scraton at Blackburne House, and Howard Gayle talking about being Liverpool FC’s first black player.
Although as always at WowFest, there’s much more to this revolutionary line-up than just the big names.
Eat Me and Preach! | Invisible Wind Factory | Friday May 5
Although some may consider the perfect post-dinner pastime to consist of feet up, beer and a snooze in front of the telly, the Invisible Wind Factory has something much more outrageous in mind. On Friday May 5, the venue pairs its Eat Me dinner and drag experience with Preach!, billed as “Liverpool’s only out till late QUEER disco basement club night” (or “a genderfucking mecca for self-expression, regression and exploration” if you prefer). If you think that sounds like a recipe for rampant indigestion you might wish to stay away, as the organisers promise that the gourmet three-course meal will be followed by “a sequined rollercoaster of cocktails, dancing, drag, performance art, cabaret and live music”. It sounds as though the north docks venue will be transformed into a pink-tinted pressure cooker for the night – or a camp furnace, you might say.
Invisible Wind Factory, 3 Regent Rd, Liverpool L3 7DS
The Sum | Everyman Theatre | From Wednesday May 6
Having ventured as far as Ukraine with season opener Fiddler on the Roof and to the Antarctic with The Conquest of the South Pole, it’s time for the Everyman rep company to look a little closer to home. The Sum is a new piece set in Toxteth that turns the problems of everyday life into a play with songs – not a musical, but theatre with music in the tradition of Alan Dossor’s Everyman of old. Written by the acclaimed Liverpool-based writer Lizzie Nunnery with music by Vidar Norheim, the production is said to be a response to austerity, reflecting the concerns and aspirations of city families. Nunnery has created some exceptional small shows over recent years, and it will be interesting to see how her work fares with a bigger cast on the Everyman stage.
Everyman Theatre, 5-11 Hope St, Liverpool L1 9BH
Hammer and Nail Pop-Up Film Festival | Handymans Supermarket | Saturday-Sunday May 6-7
The distinctive old-skool Handymans Supermarket store on Smithdown Road seemed timeless – a 1960s relic that somehow squared up to the orange-aproned big boys at B&Q and survived with its Polyfilla intact. Alas, its doors closed for the final time last September – but DIY’s loss is beer’s gain, as the building is currently being transformed into a pub and microbrewery with a multipurpose back room. And first into that room are the Empty Spaces Cinema team who have put together a pun-tastic programme of films for the first weekend in May including Withnail & I, Wreck-It Ralph and the Hammer Horror classic, The Hound of the Baskervilles. With the Liverpool Small Cinema about to project its final reel, this is hopefully a sign that DIY film screenings still have a future in the city.
Handymans Supermarket, 461 Smithdown Rd, Liverpool L15 3JL
Charles Bukowski Supperclub | Hus | Friday May 12
If the idea of a literary supper sounds a little too Hampstead for your liking, perhaps one dedicated to a laureate of the lowlife might be more up your rain-soaked back alley. Along with three food courses influenced by Charles Bukowski’s nicotine-stained prose, and three booze courses possibly influenced by the fact that he was an alcoholic, Hus is also promising a soundtrack and visuals to match.
Although polite society tends to frown on reading at the table, perhaps a Bukowski supper is the kind of impolite environment in which such slovenly behaviour will be positively encouraged.
HUS, 12 Tithebarn St, Liverpool L2 2DT.
The Eighth Annual Liverpool Improvathon: The Space Age | Invisible Wind Factory | Saturday-Sunday May 13-14
Naming no names, there are a number of people in this city who seem to be making it up as they go along, but the team behind the Annual Liverpool Improvathon has turned it into a real art. This year’s epic improvised adventure goes under the title of The Space Age, and is due to unfold at the Invisible Wind Factory over 2,017 minutes (just over 33 and a half hours) in mid-May. Channelling the spirit of Ken Campbell’s greatest misadventures, the Impropriety theatre company will boldly go where other theatrical lightweights with their scripts and intervals fear to tread. The event blasts off at 1pm on Saturday May 13 and the whole thing is divided into 17 two-hour ‘episodes’, so either watch it all or drop in when you can. As Impropriety put it, “Set your phasers to fun”.
Invisible Wind Factory, 3 Regent Rd, Liverpool L3 7DS.
The Damned United | Unity Theatre | Wednesday-Thursday May 17-18
As the Unity Theatre reopens following its £845,000 renovation, the first company to tread its shiny new boards will be Red Ladder with a new adaptation of David Peace’s novel The Damned United. Based on Brian Clough’s tumultuous 44 days in charge of Leeds United in 1974, the stage rights to the bestselling novel were donated to Red Ladder by Peace following the company’s 100% cut in Arts Council funding. The show’s two-night stay will then be followed by the Unity’s official opening weekend featuring performance artist Aleasha Chaunté ‘reawakening’ the building. Reports that this will include synchronised coughing and the stifled rustling of Murray Mint wrappers are unconfirmed.
Unity Theatre, 1 Hope Place, Liverpool L1 9BG.
Light Night | Various venues | Friday May 19
While Liverpool’s annual one-night arts jamboree is undoubtedly A Good Thing, those who want to do more than experience debilitating choice paralysis are advised to do a little planning ahead. Or discover the secret of teleportation.
With a month’s worth of cultural events compressed into one high-octane evening – over 100 at the last count, including talks, exhibitions, performances and discussions – the city’s cultural institutions and other venues will be welcoming all-comers through the doors at around the time they’re usually locking up.
Quite why so much good stuff has to happen all at once remains a bit of a mystery, but tool up with your speediest pair of running shoes and you might just catch the bits you want to see.
Sgt Pepper at 50, Various venues, From Thursday May 25
We’re about more than just The Beatles, honestly. But did we mention it’s the 50th anniversary of the greatest album ever made? Actually, regardless of your stance on the merits of that era-defining record, the upcoming festival in its honour throws up some intriguing projects involving artists as diverse as Jeremy Deller, DJ Spooky, the John Cage Trust, Judy Chicago, pyrotechnic specialists GroupeF, and Liverpool theatre company 20 Stories High.
Events kick off on May 25 with Pepperland by the Mark Morris Dance Group at the Royal Court, and Jeremy Deller’s citywide project With a Little Help From My Friends. The festival then continues throughout June.
New Brighton Seaside Festival | Fort Perch Rock | Saturday-Monday May 27-29
A couple of years ago, satirical website The Daily Mash ran the memorable headline, “Brighton to become the UK’s first ‘twats only’ town”. Fiction it may be (allegedly), but it’s still reason enough to spurn the resort they call London-on-Sea in favour of its Mersey-scented near-namesake. After all, New Brighton has a beach from which you don’t just stare at the empty horizon, but which gifts you one of the greatest Liverpool skyline views, and now it also has its own three-day festival offering sea food, real ales, live music, a vintage fairground and more.
And while it may lack the ‘royal’ prefix enjoyed by its southern rival, New Brighton Cricket and Bowling Club even has a pavilion.
Fort Perch Rock, Marine Promenade, Wirral CH45 2JU