The best of the arts in London and beyond this month.
This is one hot ticket, combining a brand new play with Bond’s new Q, Ben Whishaw. In Against Whishaw plays Luke, an aerospace billionaire who believes God has started talking to him. Whishaw returns to the Almeida following his celebrated role there in the 2015 production of Bakkhai. His Hamlet at the Old Vic, at age 23, was called ‘unforgettable and lovable’ by The Telegraph so the omens are theatrical gold. Pulitzer-nominated writer Christopher Shinn’s plays include the polemic Teddy Ferrara, which tackles homophobia on a US campus. The previews are sold out, so book now – or pray for a transfer.
Tickets from £10, available from 21 August to 30 September. Book online or telephone on 0207 359 4404.
Here’s something lush for your summer 2017 soundtrack. Grizzly Bear have emerged from a five-year hibernation to release their fifth album, Painted Ruins, and tour the UK, too. The Brooklyn indie band’s sweet harmonised vocals and experimental electronica is often atmospheric and sometimes melancholic, but moody rarely sounds so good. Rolling Stone declares the new album’s first single, Three Rings, ‘spellbinding’ while their hypnotic sound has seen them cast in cinematic soundtracks and as support for Glastonbury headliners, Radiohead. When they turn up the tempo, they even sound a bit U2 on new track Mourning Sound.
Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!
Step into the world of Grayson Perry at The Serpentine with an exhibition of some 20 works. It’s populated by the personal – a colossal self-portrait nude and Perry’s childhood teddy bear Alan Measels); the political (his latest ‘Brexit pots’) and the popular icon – Kate Middleton is cast as a medieval Madonna engraved on a skateboard (the Kate Board). Perry’s social commentary is multi-medium, from his famous ceramic pots to tapestries including the 20-ft wide Battle of Britain 2017, and often features the Turner Prize winner’s trademark collage vignettes. The show’s centrepiece is the Remain or Leave pots, A Fine Pair 2017, which are inspired by Brexit. ‘These things act as smelling salts,’ says Perry. ‘As an artist I find it exciting.’
Until 7 September. Free. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am -6pm.
Rizzo from Grease is treading the London stage. It’s a far more interesting prospect than a revival of the 1978 teen musical though. Stockard Channing stars in Apologia, a family drama where matriarch Kristi Miller hosts a birthday do for her clan and friends which conjures up personal demons and drama. The cast includes Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael, Dr Who’s Martha Jones, played by Freema Agyeman, and Olivier Award-winner Desmond Barrit. It’s a theatrical must-see, least of all for Channing, live, at 73.
From 1 August to 18 November. Tickets from £15. Book online or by telephone on 0844 871 7632.
Head, or high-kick, your way to the National Theatre for a dazzling new production. Follies takes us to New York in 1971 for a reunion of the famous Follies girls, 30 years after their final performance. We are transported to the stage at the iconic Weismann Theatre, due for demolition the following day. It is time for a drink to toast past performances and reminisce to a score including Broadway Baby and Losing My Mind. There’s a 21-piece live orchestra and stars include Imelda Staunton who won an Olivier for Gypsy. You’ll sing about it from the rooftops.
From 22 August to 3 January. 7.30pm. Tickets for performances from August to November now sold out but £20 Friday rush tickets will be available. Tickets for November and beyond on sale to members. See website for details.
Matisse in the Studio at the RA
This charming exhibition of the work of Henri Matisse includes 40 of his personal objects, artefacts and paintings alongside a selection of major works including around 80 paintings, drawings and bronzes. Collected during the artist’s travels to the Far East, Mali and North Africa, the eclectic items – from an Andalusian vase given a starring role in two of his still-lifes to textiles from the Islamic world – made their home at Matisse’s Nice studio. Matisse himself cited the items as an inspiration and as an extension of his creative process, likening them to actors. In 1951, he said: ‘A good actor can have a part in ten different plays; an object can play a role in ten different pictures.’ Now visitors to the exhibition can conjure clues to Matisse’s creative process.
15 August to 12 November. Tickets £15.50 (without donation £14). Concessions available. Friends of the RA and under 16s, when with a fee-paying adult, go free. Book online or telephone on 020 7300 8090.
Tate Modern hosts this impressive retrospective for an artist of ‘force and originality’, with a colourful back story. A Turkish princess (she married into the Iraqi royal family), her life chapters include taking tea with Hitler and nearassassination, told in a variety of locations from Berlin to Baghdad, London to Paris and Jordan in the 1970s. Zeid was classically trained in the 1920s as one of the first women to attend the Academy of Art in Istanbul but embraced the avant-garde. Her signature works are huge, ornate abstract canvasses. She later used turkey bones and resin to make sculptures, and painted portraits of family and friends in her 50s. But it’s the monumental kaleidoscopic abstracts from the 1950s, including My Hell (she suffered depression) that star here. It’s a life writ large – and bold.
Until 8 October 2017; tickets £11.30 (without donation), under-12s and members free. Tickets can be booked up to 8 hours in advance online or up to 24 hours in advance by telephone on 020 7887 8888.