Cancelled: Eurovision Song Contest 2020
Alternative: Charli XCX’s Self-Isolation IG Livestream (Instagram)
It’s hard to know how long CXCX will continue with her top-notch series of daily livestreams, in which she’s played at talkshow host, communing with collaborators Christine and the Queens, Rita Ora and Kim Petras, or working out with Diplo. But let’s hope they never end. KE
Cancelled: Major Lazer European tour
Alternative: Diplo’s Corona World Tour (YouTube,Twitch, Instagram)
Diplo’s party crew were meant to tour their Soundsystem City Takeover set-up around Europe, with three shows in London on 1 April. Instead, Diplo is embarking on a virtual Corona World Tour with regular live-streaming events, often via his Mad Decent Twitch account, called A Very Lazer Sunday, Corona Sabbath, Coronight Fever, etc. Times vary. You can also donate to a Covid-19 relief fund.
Postponed: The Who tour; Neil Young and Crazy Horse Barn Tour
Alternative: The Neil Young Fireside Sessions
British 60s survivors the Who were due to tour their recent 12th album, Who, throughout the UK with an orchestra, while veteran US troubadour Neil Young has had to cancel his US tour with Crazy Horse. But with the help of his wife Darryl Hannah behind the camera, Young has put a 28-minute solo acoustic session filmed at his home in Telluride, Colorado, up online at neilyoungarchives.com, featuring a number of rarities. The plan is to make these Fireside Sessions a regular thing.
Postponed: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds tour
Alternative: The Red Hand Files
Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds were going to tour his Ghosteen album, which dealt with the aftermath of the loss of his teenage son, in part, by letting love in. It’s no match for the communion of a live set, but the Red Hand Files, Cave’s “ask me anything” web portal boasting a huge archive of thoughtfully answered fan queries, will soon publish Cave’s corona-era thoughts. There’s also Stranger Than Kindness, a new collection of handwritten lyrics, artwork and essays from Cave’s 50 years of artistry.
Cancelled: Glastonbury festival 2020
Alternative: 6 Music festival (iPlayer)
Kendrick Lamar, Paul McCartney,Taylor Swift: irreplaceable as Glastonbury’s 2020 lineup is, the ridiculously recent BBC 6 Music festival has a wealth of high-quality footage you can enjoy online, for something approximating a live music contact high. The famous – Mike Skinner, Kim Gordon, the Selecter and Brittany Howard among them – rubbed plectrums with up’n’coming stars such as Black Midi and Kojey Radical.
Suspended: The Seagull, Playhouse Theatre, London
Alternative: The Seagull to Go (YouTube)
Chekhov’s 1896 drama has some of his splashiest roles for actresses. Jamie Lloyd’s production at the Playhouse, due to have opened in a version by Anya Reiss the week the theatres closed, featured Emilia Clarke, Indira Varma and Sophie Wu. Michael Sommer’s cast, part of his World Literature to Go, is made up of Playmobil figures, with eyes like pennies, or roubles, who are manoeuvred through the action in 10 minutes of deadpan dialogue: “Shut it Kostya.” I am with Doctor Dorn: “Call me weird, but I liked it.”
Postponed: I Remember It Well, Bridge Theatre, London
Alternative: Judi Dench on Front Row (Radio 4/BBC Sounds)
Judi Dench was due to appear at the Bridge for 13 nights of conversation (with Gyles Brandreth) and performance: she said she had been “brushing up on a few things”, including Shakespeare’s sonnets. Interviewed by Front Row’s John Wilson, she canters through her 60-year career, remembering how she was told she had the “wrong face” for film, how she snapped her Achilles tendon when rehearsing Cats and did not cry when M was killed off in Skyfall. She is eager to be cast a villain.
Postponed: The Song Project, Royal Court, London
Alternative: EV Crowe’s Royal Court Playwright’s Podcast
Playwrights EV Crowe, Sabrina Mahfouz, Somalia Seaton, Stef Smith and Debris Stevenson were to join forces with designer Chloe Lamford, choreographer Imogen Knight, Dutch singer Wende and composer Isobel Waller-Bridge. Subjects included birth, death and mothers. Instead, enjoy Crowe, whose play Shoe Lady opened just as the virus struck, as she talks vividly to dramatist Simon Stephens about how being a child of the military was like living in a touring show.
Postponed: 4,000 Miles, The Old Vic, London
Alternative: Little Women (on digital from 11 May); Doc Martin (ITV Hub, Amazon Prime Video)
At the Old Vic, Amy Herzog’s play offered the chance of seeing a peerless pairing of actors. Eileen Atkins was to age up and Timothée Chalamet age down as they played a 91-year-old Greenwich Villager and her 21-year-old grandson. In Greta Gerwig’s 2019 film of Little Women, Chalamet can be seen scampering dissolute and elfin-locked as Laurie. Atkins, impeccably wintry as Queen Mary in The Crown, gives a taste of the sardonic sublime in Philippa Braithwaite’s finely scripted Doc Martin.
Postponed: The Comedy of Errors, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Alternative: Globe Player
Miles Jupp was due to make his RSC debut on May Day in Phillip Breen’s staging of Shakespeare’s shortest, most confusing drama: a tangle of twins and identity crises. Anyone with Bard starvation can find more than 130 filmed productions on the Globe’s video-on-demand service. Among these are The Merchant of Venice, with masterly Jonathan Pryce, and Twelfth Night, with Mark Rylance as an astonishing kabuki Olivia. Also A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Korean and some good vids, including Ruth Negga on how annoying it is when actors pose wistfully.
Postponed: The Company of Wolves, New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Alternative: Nothing Sacred: Selected Writings by Angela Carter (Virago Modern Classics)
“The wolves have ways of arriving at your own hearthside.” Angela Carter’s sexy-beast riff on Red Riding Hood was due to be seen at the New Vic in a sharp adaptation by artistic director Theresa Heskins. Carter’s original short story can be read in her collection of reimagined fairytales, The Bloody Chamber. Her carnival quickness and straight talking is on coruscating display in Nothing Sacred, which contains essays on Linda Lovelace, Japanese tattooing and lingerie as “hyper-culture”. SC
Closed: Titian: Love, Desire, Death, The National Gallery, London
Alternative: Online exhibition tour (Facebook)
This gorgeous tour-cum-lecture of Titian at the National Gallery opens with a rapid pan of the whole show and then homes in on each painting one by one. The curator, Matthias Wivel, gives an impassioned account of Titian, his art and times, with a charming sign-off for us all to keep safe. The camera peers at the pictures just as we might, though it’s slightly whistlestop and you might want to look at each image more slowly on the NG website as back-up. Titian died in a pandemic, but not before painting this marvellous mythological cycle: infinite riches in a little room.
Closed: Andy Warhol, Tate Modern, London
Alternative: Watch his films on Artnet
Can’t get to the Warhol? Never worry: some of the best things in an ill-assorted show were the films. And you can see a wide selection of them in one place on Artnet. Here are the Screen Tests, including Dennis Hopper, Edie Sedgwick and Lou Reed swigging and smoking before Warhol’s laconic camera. Here is Chelsea Girls, with its wild goings-on in different rooms of the famous Chelsea Hotel. And best of all, the most electrifying moment in the whole of Warhol’s eight-hour Empire, when the sun goes down and the lights glow on the Empire State Building – eight minutes of the 1960s to perfection.
Postponed: Artemisia, The National Gallery, London
Alternative: YouTube films
The show of the year, if not the decade – 29 works by this heroine of art, precocious successor to Caravaggio, Italian baroque star – is indefinitely postponed. But while we’re waiting, there are plenty of films on YouTube, including a terrific talk by art historian Jesse Locker focusing on Gentileschi’s radical originality. But if you’ve got the money, nothing beats the catalogue, which includes magnified details, superb biography and all the newly discovered letters, revealing a woman as passionate as her paintings.
Postponed: Candice Breitz: Love Story, Tate Liverpool
Alternative: Watch the film on Breitz’s website
Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin “star” in this riveting and poignant film installation by South African artist Candice Breitz. At first, they appear to be talking about themselves, two privileged actors, then their monologues turn into narratives of disaster, suffering and war. On the second screen, you see the real people whose stories they were voicing – child soldiers in Angola, Indian untouchables, Syrian refugees. Which moves you more? It’s now available on Candice Breitz’s own website.
Postponed: Arctic, British Museum, London
Alternative: Amber Lincoln’s Arctic blog
This sequel to the British Museum’s bestselling Ice Age Art show remains, as it were, on ice until further notice. A great guide to the show, but also to the revelatory idea of Arctic art – from 28,000-year-old jewellery, newly discovered in thawing ice, to sculptures of men and dogs carved from walrus ivory - is brilliantly discussed in a blog by Amber Lincoln on the BM website. Lincoln takes you deep into a land where the ice can blind and temperatures regularly fall to -40C. Excellent words and images for both adults and children. LC
Postponed: Bath comedy festival
Alternative: The Stay at Home festival (cosmicshambles.com, YouTube)
Sure, live comedy is often about the vibe in the room and audience interaction - “crowd work”, as standups call it - but tending to be one person and a mic, it also translates well to live streaming. A host of top comics have teamed up for this free online festival (although you can drop a coin into the tip bucket), hosted by Robin Ince. There’s a gig or two per day, with some available on-demand for later viewing. This week’s bills include Josie Long, Adam Kay, Al Murray, John Hegley and Nikesh Shukla, with more acts added all the time.
Postponed: Brighton Fringe
Alternative: Comedians Against Living Miserably
The Dave channel’s hit mental health podcast Conversations Against Living Miserably has released two special comic-led instalments to help people stuck indoors. Episode one has tips on self-isolation from Jenny Eclair, Lou Sanders, Jayde Adams, Matt Richardson, among others. Episode two features contributions from Ahir Shah, Pippa Evans, Elf Lyons, Dane Baptiste, John Robins and Sophie Duker. It’s hosted by geordie standup Lauren Pattison and mental health author Aaron “TechnicallyRon” Gillies. Far funnier than it sounds. Find it “at your usual podcast provider”, which has become the 21st century equivalent of “at all good newsagents”. MH
Postponed: Akram Khan: Creature, Sadler’s Wells, London
Alternative: Tamara Rojo online
This was a much-anticipated creation from a choreographer whose Giselle for English National Ballet was such a sensation. You can discover how ENB hone their skills thanks to a class led by artistic director Tamara Rojo, available on the ENB’s website and Facebook page – a look at the hard work that goes into stage perfection. If you want to start to dance yourself, the Royal Ballet’s Bennet Gartside is doing beginners’ ballet from his kitchen on Instagram on Wednesdays.
Postponed/Cancelled: The Dante Project, Royal Ballet
Alternative: The Metamorphosis
The collaboration between choreographer Wayne McGregor and dancer Edward Watson began in 1999 and has encompassed nearly every work McGregor has made for the Royal Ballet. They have been working intensively on The Dante Project, a full-length piece based on The Divine Comedy. You can watch Watson’s uniquely dramatic commitment to his work in The Metamorphosis, a version of Kafka’s story choreographed by Arthur Pita, available on 17 April at 7pm on the ROH’s Facebook and YouTube channels. SC
Opera and contemporary music
Postponed: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scottish Opera
Alternative: A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Aix-en-Provence (YouTube)
Scottish Opera’s collaboration with Dominic Hill, artistic director of Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre, should have opened this week: a new staging of Benjamin Britten’s magical, witty opera, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with a fantastic cast of young singers conducted by the company’s music director, Stuart Stratford. Instead, watch online the 2015 revival of Robert Carsen’s much-loved staging from 1991, a Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and Opéra National de Lyon co-production. The mostly British cast and Trinity Boys Choir are conducted by Kazushi Ono. Be transported to the open-air, midsummer warmth of the courtyard of the Archbishop’s Palace in Aix. And listen for the birdsong.
Cancelled: Laurie Anderson’s All the Things I Lost in the Flood, Kings Place, London
Alternative: Her book of the same name
In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded the New York basement that Laurie Anderson lived in with her husband, Lou Reed, destroying a lifetime’s photographs, electronic equipment and ephemera. Anderson, who trained as a concert violinist but whose music fits no easy category, produced a book of essays and a solo show inspired by this loss. She was due to perform this next week. So read the book, listen to her music, and hope Anderson will be back soon to show us a way forward. FM