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13/08/2020

News: Soho Theatre Announces Film Of Hit Play Typical Starring Richard Blackwood


Soho Theatre Announces Film Of
Hit Play Typical Starring Richard Blackwood



Typical
A Soho Theatre And Nouveau Riche Production

By Ryan Calais Cameron
Directed By Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
Starring Richard Blackwood

Where is home?
Thought I was home
I fought then came home
Thought I was home....

A powerful and urgent exploration about how society stereotypes Black masculinity is the subject of a brand-new film created by award-winning creative movement Nouveau Riche and Soho Theatre, London’s leading producer of new theatre, comedy and cabaret.

Photo: Franklyn Rodgers
Typical, written by Ryan Calais Cameron, initially directed for the stage and now for the screen by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, uncovers the man and the humanity behind the tragic real-life story of Christopher Alder, a Black British ex-serviceman.

First performed in 2019 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe before the hit play transferred to Soho Theatre for a sell-out run, this work has been revived to be filmed during the Covid-19 outbreak and shot adhering to social distancing guidelines, on location at Soho Theatre.

Hollyoaks regular and former EastEnders star Richard Blackwood reprises the critically acclaimed part he played in Typical, the stage version. The versatile actor has a career that spans 30 years across stage and screen and was the first Black comic to have his own TV show in the UK. For Typical, he delivers an intense, multi-rolling monologue, that is at times both harrowing and darkly comedic. The tragic storyline highlights the crisis of identity consuming Britain today and how little progress has been made in race relations in the twenty years since Christopher’s story emerged.

Photo: Franklyn Rodgers
Playwright Ryan Calais Cameron says: “Typical is the story of a Black man that is just a man when he is in the comfort of his home, but as he leaves, he must navigate through society’s ideas and prejudices about what it means to be Black.

“I believe this play is vital and should be seen as widely as possible, particularly now given the far overdue global fight for freedom, justice and liberation from overt, covert, and systemic racism. Typical is a slice of our history, that hopes to give insight, education and hope for a better future.”

Soho Theatre’s Creative Director David Luff adds: “Ryan Calais Cameron is a superb new writer and in Typical has created a piece which deals respectfully with past tragic events whilst shining a bright spotlight on injustice in contemporary British society. We first met Ryan on our Writers’ Lab programme, before watching his superb hit production of Queens of Sheba. On reading Typical, we knew straight away that this was a piece that needed to be produced. We were completely taken by the power, beauty and lyricism of Ryan’s writing and supported him in mounting the show in Edinburgh and London.

Photo: Franklyn Rodgers
“The process of adapting the play for screen in this Covid-19 period has been challenging but hugely rewarding, bringing together a superb team of theatre and film creatives. We are extremely proud to have co-produced this new filmed version at Soho Theatre and eager for it to find a wide audience.”

*A percentage of the proceeds from this film will be donated to Janet Alder, Christopher’s sister, who is raising funds to write a book about his story. This film is dedicated to his memory and the many Black men and women whose lives have been destroyed by racism in our society.

From the director Anastasia Osei-Kuffour: “It was so heart-breaking to see that even in a global pandemic racism is still raging, the killing of Black people by police and the fact that the virus disproportionately affected us people of colour more — because of the societal inequalities that racism has engineered — is so hard to stomach. Reviving Typical is part of our protest and fight against the wrong going on in the world, a way we as a team are taking action.

“Shooting this as a film, we are hoping it can reach thousands more than our theatre production did, because there needs to be greater awareness of our own incidents of racism, injustice and police misconduct , problems that we need to tackle here in the UK. I am praying that greater awareness helps us along the way to stamping out racism and injustice here, as people are more held to account for their behaviour. Black Lives Matter, Christopher Alder’s life matters, Typical highlights this.”

Typical is currently in post-production. Further announcements detailing the film’s release will be made very soon.


Creative and Production Team
Writer                                               Ryan Calais Cameron
Director                                            Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
Actor                                                Richard Blackwood
Producer                                          Charlotte Campbell
Producer                                          Gabrielle Leadbetter
Executive Producer                         David Luff
Executive Producer                         Ryan Calais Cameron
Cinematographer                            Jermaine Edwards                           
Editor                                               Oral Norrie Ottey
Assistant Editor                               Robert Cone
Set and Costume Designer            Zahra Mansouri  
Sound Designer                              Gareth Fry  
Original Stage Sound Designer      Duramaney Kamara                                        
Lighting Designer                            Paul Anderson   
Lighting Programmer                       Laurence Russell
Original Stage Lighting Designer    Sorcha Stott-Strzala                               
Voice and Dialect Coach                Hazel Holder
Drama Therapist                             Wabriya King
Movement Director                          Coral Messam
Original Stage Movement Director  Ingrid Mackinnon
Fight Director                                   Kevin McCurdy
Assistant Director                            Jessica Mensah                                
Production Manager                        Sebastian Cannings                                    
Stage Manager                                Sylvia Darkwa-Ohemeng
Make Up Designer                           Ruth McGinty                                    
Casting Director                               Nadine Rennie                    
Camera Operator B Camera            Sean Francis
Camera Operator C Camera            Anna MacDonald
Focus Puller A Camera                    Tim Potter
Focus Puller B Camera                    Marco Alonso
Focus Puller C Camera                    Emma Friend
2nd AC                                              Jean Ash
DIT                                                   John Miguel King
Stills Photographer                           Franklyn Rodgers
Lighting Equipment                          Sparks Theatrical Hire Ltd.
Colourist                                          John Miguel King
Digital Imaging Services                  Digital Orchard
Music Clearance                              Laura Rouxel
Soho Technician                              Kevin Millband
Soho Technician                              Georgina Trott

07/08/2020

News: Northern Stage appoints Natalie Ibu as Artistic Director

 Northern Stage appoints Natalie Ibu as Artistic Director

Northern Stage today announced the appointment of Natalie Ibu as their new Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive. Natalie, currently Artistic Director and Chief Executive of tiata fahodzi, will take up the role in November 2020. She succeeds Lorne Campbell, who joined National Theatre of Wales in March. 
Natalie Ibu Photo: Mathieu Ajan
Natalie Ibu has been Artistic Director and Chief Executive of tiata fahodzi, the only Black-led theatre company committed solely to producing new work in the UK, for the past 5 years. At tiata fahodzi, Natalie’s stand out piece of work was her direction of ‘good dog’ by Arinzé Kene, which was produced in association with Watford Palace Theatre and Tara Finney Productions and toured nationally twice to excellent audience and critical reception before being adapted for screen and shown on BBC iPlayer. 
Prior to joining tiata fahodzi, her career includes time spent as Creative Producer at In Good Company, Derby Theatre; Programme Manager, Roundhouse; Resident Assistant Director, Royal Court and Assistant Director Glasgow Citizens Theatre.  
Natalie is devoted to artist development with a strong record in nurturing new talent, evidenced in her roles as consortium lead of the Artistic Director Leadership Programme and Trustee of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme.  She has a history of working with youth theatre and is passionate about working with local communities to ensure that work can be created in collaboration, to reflect the lived experience, hopes and ideas of the widest society. Natalie is a Fellow of the International Society of Performing Arts (ISPA).  
Chair of Northern Stage’s Board Simon Elliott said, “The time the panel spent reviewing nearly 60 applications and meeting many candidates in interview showed us all the high quality of the sector, both nationally and regionally.  Natalie emerged as the most compelling candidate from a high calibre field because we saw her as visionary, know that she understands and embraces the social responsibilities of theatre and is committed to developing talent.  Her track record is excellent and with her creative leadership I am confident she will enable us to ensure Northern Stage can be the theatre the region needs now and in the years to come.  
“Appointing an Artistic Director at this time is absolutely necessary.  We have an obligation to all the communities of Newcastle and the North East to create, develop and curate the most exciting, engaging and relevant theatre, so that when audiences, staff, theatre makers and participants feel safe, we can be there.  Natalie, working alongside Joint Chief Executive Kate Denby and with the entire team, will imagine and realise that future. 
“And last but not least, I want to acknowledge the brilliant work by Kate who has had to be our sole Chief Executive in this most challenging period – and the whole Northern Stage Staff and the freelance community we work with for all they have done in the last 5 months.  I know that as Natalie takes up the role of Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive, she will work collaboratively to create the possibilities of a better tomorrow.” 

Natalie Ibu said, “As a 17 year old Black Scottish working class girl, I decided I wanted to be an Artistic Director because I longed to work in community – with a team, with artists, with a place and with audiences. Northern Stage is exemplary at this with its commitment to its local and regional community – from Wednesday shared dinners with its neighbours in Byker to the way it shares its building with local artists through the Spare Room programme. I am looking forward to working with the people and places across Tyne and Wear and beyond — where grit joins charm, where a spectrum of celebrations meet at the weekend and where the global is becoming our local – to make loudly relevant work that feels essential to helping us understand who we are, who we’ll be and who we want to be. I know first-hand the game-changing impact a venue like Northern Stage can have on individuals — artists and audiences alike - and it’s an absolute privilege to join this organisation as it continues to emerge as a beacon in these complex times. 

Northern Stage’s Executive Director Kate Denby said, "I'm thrilled to welcome Natalie to Northern Stage as our new Artistic Director. Natalie and I had the opportunity to work together several years ago, and I've followed her career in the years since.  I'm very excited to now build a partnership as we lead Northern Stage into the future." 

The tiata fahodzi Board of Trustees said, “The Board of Trustees and everyone at tiata fahodzi would like to congratulate Natalie on her new role and thank her for the inspiring work she has done as Artistic Director of our organisation over the past six years. From spearheading a new approach to audience engagement with the innovative Friendship Model, to championing inclusive imagery with The Stage photo campaign, Natalie has demonstrated time and again that her creative vision knows no bounds. At the heart of tiata fahodzi is our mission to help create a richer, more multiple mainstream theatre culture and as Artistic Director Natalie has pushed that agenda forward with thought-provoking productions and ground-breaking initiatives that will benefit the sector for years to come. We have no doubt Natalie will take the same unwavering drive and passion with her to Northern Stage and wish her the very best.”

04/08/2020

News: The Customs House has taken the difficult decision to postpone its pantomime

The Little Panto With The Broken Heart

The Customs House, in South Shields, has taken the difficult decision to postpone its pantomime.

Rapunzel, which was due to open in November, will now be rescheduled to let down her hair in 2021.

Ray Spencer MBE
Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer exlpained “With the continued uncertainty around government advice on live performance and with a predicted second wave of Covid this winter, it is with deep regret that The Customs House is announcing the postponement of our 2020 pantomime “Rapunzel” until 2021.

“After months of closure and no clear road map to reopening The Customs House cannot risk the heavy investment required to produce pantomime without some guarantee that we would be able to at least recoup costs.

“All advance ticket sales are now available for refund - please be patient as our skeleton staff work through the high number of bookings.

Happier times - The Customs House panto has won the North East Theatre Guide's "Most Entertaining Panto of the Year a record three times.

“We are refunding tickets rather than transferring them to next year’s dates, with a new performance diary for 2021 being produced soon. As normal these new dates will be offered to Members of our Friends Scheme in advance of them going on general public sale.

“These are extremely difficult times for everyone so I would ask, if you are able, to consider donating part of your ticket refund to The Customs House Charity.

“You remain our greatest asset, our supporters, it is you who will help secure a positive future for YOUR Customs House.

“We will return! OH, YES WE WILLL!”

An email has been sent to all bookers outlining their options for a refund or opportunities to donate part of their transaction to The Customs House Charity.

Those who do not have an email address attached to their booking will receive a call from staff who are working through each show. Customers will be notified when refunds have been processed.

Staff are currently working remotely and are not in the building. They are working hard to contact ticket holders as swiftly as possible, however, if you have not heard from anyone by Saturday 4th September, please email boxoffice@customshouse.co.uk or send a letter to The Customs House, Mill Dam, South Shields, NE33 1ES.


03/08/2020

Preview: Jess Fostekew: Hench at Newcastle Stand


Little Wander Present

Jess Fostekew: Hench
Newcastle Stand Comedy Club
Monday 8th March 2021

Please note show rescheduled from 17 October 2020
Photo: Idil Sukan

Absolute powershed and regular host of The Guilty FeministJessica Fostekew explores her big strong strength.

Have you ever watched a feminist try and take ‘hench’ as a compliment? It’s like watching a snake eat but funny.
In preview, Hench was nominated for Best Show at the Leicester Comedy Festival.
You’ve seen Jess in BBC sitcoms Motherland and Cuckoo and BAFTA Award-winning drama Three Girls.
She's also in forthcoming feature films: Gavin Hood’s Official Secrets and Michael Winterbottom’s Greed. She writes for 8 out of 10 Cats.

Best Show Dave Comedy Award Nominee 2019
‘She finds a new fiercely funny strain of comedy that’s her own’ Times
'Consistently hilarious' Fest
'Wears her smarts on her sleeve, great' Guardian

***** Funny Women
**** Times
**** Guardian
**** Herald
**** Scotsman
**** Chortle
**** Skinny
**** Fest


Preview: Jen Brister: Under Privilege at Newcastle Stand


Jen Brister: Under Privilege
Newcastle Stand Comedy Club
Monday 22nd February 2021

Please note show resheduled from 8 September 2020


Brister has it all: a wife, kids, a house and a job she loves (sometimes) so what the hell is she moaning about? Join Jen as she takes an irreverent look at the often controversial subject of 'privilege'. Who has it? Who doesn't? And why does no one like to admit they have any?

'A powerhouse performance' ****½ Chortle
'A big dose of double up funny' ***** Deadline News
'Glorious raging' **** BroadwayBaby
'Brister uses anger to quite stunning comedic effect' ***** Skinny
'Blisteringly funny' **** List


Preview: My Best Friend’s Wedding at Sunderland Empire

Ad: Tickets are now available from our affiliate ATG Tickets. This means we receive a small share of the sale. Clicking on these links helps us to cover the costs of producing the North East Theatre Guide free of charge to both our readers and theatres.

The smash-hit 90s movie My Best Friend’s Wedding is now a brand new musical comedy and you’re invited!

My Best Friend’s Wedding
Sunderland Empire
Tuesday 28 September - Saturday 2 October 2021

Tickets now on sale: TICKET LINK #Ad



Fiery food critic Julianne Potter has always turned her nose up at romance. It’s the reason she broke up with her sweetheart Michael O’Neal. When she hears he’s about to be married, she vows to win him back for good, but with perfect Kimmy in the way, it’s not as easy as she first thought. Can she derail her best friend’s wedding in time and keep Michael all for herself?

Starring Alexandra Burke (The Bodyguard, Chicago, Sister Act), with book by Ronald Bass (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Rain Man, The Joy Luck Club) and Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful Thing, Gimme Gimme Gimme, Coronation Street), My Best Friend’s Wedding features some of the most iconic songs ever written by the legendary Burt Bacharach and Hal David, including I’ll Never Fall in Love Again, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, Walk on By, I Say A Little Prayer, What’s New Pussycat and many, many more.

Come along and watch it all unfold as this wickedly funny musical rom com is brought to life in a new stage production.

Tickets now on sale: TICKET LINK #Ad

Preview: Credit by Laura Lindow


Credit by Laura Lindow


  • New play based on ground-breaking research into Universal Credit aims to help people understand the impact of the latest and biggest change to the benefits system
  • Exclusive online preview and live Q&A events on 16 September 
A new play by award-winning writer Laura Lindow based on stories and experiences of people living on Universal Credit that was due to open in Newcastle in April will now be streamed online. A rehearsed reading from Credit will be recorded at Alphabetti Theatre and streamed on 16 September, followed by two online Q&A events. With many more people moving onto Universal Credit as a result of COVID-19, the issues highlighted in Credit are now more important than ever to discuss and the panel includes Guardian social policy editor Patrick Butler, Gateshead’s Director of Public Health, Alice Wiseman and writer Laura Lindow. 

Credit draws on an in-depth study published by leading experts into the rollout of Universal Credit in Gateshead and Newcastle, commissioned by Gateshead Council in partnership with Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health. A Guardian exclusive when it was published in 2018 and now part of a growing body of research, the study was among the first to focus on the experiences of vulnerable people and advice and support staff in an area where Universal Credit had been rolled out. 

Co-authored by Dr Mandy Cheetham from Teesside University, Professor Suzanne Moffatt and Dr Michelle Addison from Newcastle University, the study concludes that Universal Credit does not achieve the aims of simplifying the benefit system and improving work incentives, that it is not working for vulnerable claimants and significantly adds to the pressures facing claimants and workload of staff supporting them. 

Professor Suzanne Moffatt is an academic at Newcastle University's Population & Health Sciences Institute with over 30 years’ experience researching health inequalities and the relationship between welfare and health. She says, "Our research clearly shows that many people fall into debt, housing arrears and experience food poverty and serious levels of stress as a result of claiming Universal Credit. 

“Implemented alongside prolonged austerity and other pernicious changes to welfare such as the bedroom tax, Universal Credit no longer provides social security for many of those claiming it, particularly people dealing with ill-health, disability and insecure low paid work. The government chooses to ignore the mounting evidence about the negative consequences of Universal Credit and instead are working hard to roll it out to millions more. 

“By creating a play out of the research, we hope to reach a wider audience. The Q&A sessions will create a space for discussion about whether this is an adequate and fair social security system and if not, how we might, as citizens, increase pressure to substantially improve Universal Credit or scrap it altogether. " 

Dr Mandy Cheetham explains, “The research grew out of embedded research in Gateshead with local communities facing significant challenges, who were concerned about Universal Credit and what it meant for them. We collaborated with people claiming UC and front line staff to obtain ‘lived experience’ testimonies about the impact, building on the research undertaken in 2018. It had been harrowing to hear participants’ accounts of UC, which was described by one interviewee as “insidious brutality”. The play is rooted in these and other claimants’ experiences. 

“We were keen to find creative ways to share the findings and prompt debates about what kind of world we want to live in. Working with Cap-a-Pie has enabled us to bring these issues to a wider audience. With many more people moving onto Universal Credit as a result of COVID-19, these issues are more important than ever to explore.”

Made alongside people who are claiming Universal Credit, support organisations and researchers Credit is an honest picture of how people in the North East are dealing with the ongoing changes to the welfare system.  Director Brad McCormick explains, “As part of the process for making this show we were able to speak to many people who either claim Universal Credit or who work with people who are claiming. Alongside the research this gave us such a clear picture of the situation that people in the North-East are facing under this welfare system and was invaluable in grounding the show in truth. You will see elements of these people’s stories in Credit and they are a mixture of fascinating, darkly funny and heartbreaking.”

Laura Lindow,
Photo: Chris Bishop
Cap-a-Pie has built a reputation for creative collaborations with universities and schools, working with academics and experts alongside their local communities. The company’s last touring production – the critically acclaimed Woven Bones - was developed in partnership with archaeologists from Durham University and offered audiences the chance to walk in the shoes of the long lost ‘Scottish Soldiers’, prisoners of war from the 1650 Battle of Dunbar whose remains were discovered in Durham in 2013. Credit is made in collaboration with Newcastle University, Teesside University, Gateshead Council, Newcastle City Council, Citizens Advice Gateshead, Your Voice Counts, Oasis Community Housing, Women’s Health in South Tyneside, Changing Lives, Larkspur House and Fuse.

Credit is written by Laura Lindow (Woven Bones/Cap-a-Pie). Designed by Anna Reid (Rattle Snake/Open Clasp & Live Theatre). Sound design is by Roma Yagnik (Leaving/Live Theatre). The cast are Christina Berriman Dawson (Key Change/Open Clasp) and Cooper McDonough, a member of Northern Stage’s Young Company and an associate artist with the internationally acclaimed Cardboard Citizens.

rehearsed reading from Credit will be streamed on 16 September at 2pm and 7pm. Each preview will be followed by a live Q&A discussion chaired by Professor Liz Todd, Director, Institute of Social Science Newcastle University with writer Laura Lindow and some of the country’s leading experts on the welfare state including The Guardian’s social policy editor Patrick Butler, and Gateshead’s Director of Public Health, Alice Wiseman. 

To watch the preview and take part in the Q&A events on 16 September visit: www.cap-a-pie.co.uk/credit 


News: Doorstep Music project offers residents the best seat in the house


Doorstep Music project offers residents the best seat in the house

While the theatre remains closed, Northern Stage is taking the show on the road this summer with a pop up music programme for residents on the Byker estate in Newcastle. The Doorstep Music project has been made possible by funding from by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness and Well Newcastle Gateshead.

Musicians will play live while residents are encouraged to come out onto their doorsteps to listen and sing along, in line with social distancing rules.

Musicians Hannabiell Sanders & Linday Hannon
perform live for Byker Estate residents
Northern Stage has a long term commitment to working in Byker, one of the most disadvantaged wards in the UK. The company’s main rehearsal space is next to Byker Primary School and Northern Stage plays a lead role in the Byker Children and Young People’s Partnership (BCYPP), a pioneering initiative comprised of almost 50 organisations working together to raise aspirations, enrich lives and achieve social change. 

During lockdown, the team quickly adapted to meet the changing needs of residents - delivering food parcels and activity packs, and regularly speaking to isolated members of the local community.

front l-r Lucy Stobbart & Damereo Witherspoon and the Nwankwagu family -
back l-r Lindsay Hannon Hannabiell Sanders Caroline Ryan + Jeremy Bradfield
Northern Stage Associate Director Louie Ingham explains, “We’ve been working in Byker for two and a half years now, making great creative things happen with our community.  Lockdown has given us an opportunity to get to know even more local residents in new ways, and we have continued to find out what people need and how they’re feeling, so it’s been been really exciting to co-create Doorstep Music together.  A lot of the people we’ve chatted to don’t have access to digital content - they don’t have data on their phone or wifi at home - so it was important to do something live. We’ve also talked to residents and the Byker Community Trust about how we can make the show accessible, where to set up in different locations around the Estate to make sure everyone can see and hear from their own homes."

Doorstep Music in Byker - musicians Jeremy Bradfield
LIndsay Hannon & Hannabiell Sanders give
a pop up performance for Byker Estate residents
Louie and the team have been taking song requests on their delivery rounds to compile a ‘people’s playlist’ so residents can enjoy some of their favourite tunes from their gardens, doorsteps and balconies. Songs will be played live by musicians Hannabiell Sanders, Jeremy Bradfield and Lindsay Hannon, with BSL by Caroline Ryan. Louie says, “We hope that Doorstep Music will bring people together, even though we have to be two metres apart. It’s a way of connecting people through excellent live music and art, to entertain and bring a bit of joy to the neighbourhood while making sure the musicians, our staff and residents stay safe.”  

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, who part-funded the programme, said: “As soon as I heard about this idea it excited me.  It’s a really open, accessible project designed for the good of the community, bringing everyone together. It‘s about building a sense of pride for local people within their neighbourhood, helping everyone feel safer.

“It’s a real stand out project for me, with really fantastic performances designed to inspire, and it fits in perfectly with my plans around improving lives and preventing crime. I’m confident it’s going to be a real hit with the people of Byker.”

Musician Lindsay Hannon plays while Byker Estate
residents watch from their doorsteps
Well Newcastle Gateshead Programme Director, Mark Mulqueen added, “The people of Byker have a strong cultural identity and with our support we want to encourage creativity community connections especially following the coronavirus lockdown. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a number of changes to our daily lives, not least to how people and communities stay connected. We are using the Well Newcastle Gateshead Arts Fund to support community focussed projects that celebrate their place and their culture, with the aim of improving the health and wellbeing of our communities. The Doorstep Music project is just one of them!”

Northern Stage Associate Director, Mark Calvert said, “It’s been an incredibly strange time for all us during the last 4 months and this project couldn’t have come along soon enough for both the Byker community and our freelance community. It’s so important for our industry and our region that we find ways to unite by creating things together. This project is hopefully the first in a series of projects that supports our independent artists and makers in the North East while also bringing some happiness to this brilliant Byker community. It’s so exciting that after 17 weeks of lockdown, in which we’ve all been isolated, this project allows music to bring us all back together – socially distanced obviously.”

Photos: North News

31/07/2020

REVIEW: Gavin Webster, Hal Branson and Matt Reed at Newburn Route 72 Café


Comedy night
With Gavin Webster, Hal Branson and Matt Reed
Newburn Route 72 Café
Friday 31st July 2020


Was it really the 14th March when I was last at a live performance? A lot has happened since then. By the same token – not a lot of live comedy has happened. We have had enjoyed the Stand Comedy Club and Tyne Theatre live streams on a Saturday night but they were not a substitute for being part of an audience and sharing the experience of a live show. In the last few weeks a venue has started operating outside in an industrial estate on the edge of Newburn. They started with live music at the weekend and tonight they began a regular Friday night comedy show. We were invited along to see three wonderful local comics in action and to try the new place out.


For £10 per person you are allocated a socially distanced booth. Most of these, around the edge are covered and give the venue an overall impression of the shed section of a large B&Q store. A few spots are out in the open in the middle. The area for your group is reserved from 4pm until 8pm, which is when the show ends. A one way system operates to go past a hatch/open window through which food can be ordered – this was toasties and paninis before the show and hot dogs at the interval. This path leads into the building which has the bar and the toilets. 
On the night we were there we had a choice of wine, beer, coffee, lager, spirits and Tyneside Blonde real ale from the adjacent Hadrian Border brewery. You can pay by contactless card and the whole venue has plenty of hand sanitisers everywhere. The venue advertises as being child and dog friendly. The kids will like the live music events but I’d leave kids under 16 at home from the comedy night as the material will be different to what is aired on tv. A number of dogs were in tonight – all were well behaved and some especially loved the interval hot dogs it seemed.

We had a toastie and a panini before the show started and these were delivered to our booth. Along with our drinks, these hit the spot. The three drinks and two food items came to £11.75 so the prices are reasonable once we were in

Matt Reed
Onto the entertainment. Not only have we missed going to shows, the entertainers have missed putting on a show too. Open air venues, like this, are essential if acts are able to get paid work. Tonight’s crowd were up for a laugh and compere Matt Reed warmed the crowd up nicely. It looks easy when a compere works his way around the room, asking what they do for a living or what their dog is called and then turning that quickly into humorous material but Matt took it in his stride. He has a naturally personable side that makes the audience quickly warm to him and they were happy to be a part of the entertainment. Indeed, for a new comedy night, it appeared to be a good room/audience for comedy.

Hal Branson
Hal Branson is one of the stars of the Stand Panto, which we rated as the funniest panto of 2019, and he appeared as the posh lad from Heaton which married someone from Byker. He has had some highs and lows during lockdown with his wife and daughter.  It is funny how simple stuff like teachers names can make us laugh.


Gavin Webster
After the interval we had another slice of comedy from Matt Reed before Gavin Webster took to the stage. He suggested he was a little rusty after not performing for a while but he quickly got into his stride. He is an accomplished comic who understands how to read a room and the timing necessary to deliver the punch in his material. After some new material we were given a treat of the classic Webster’s greatest hits. We love pandas and the brother Kenny routines. After several months of lockdown it was a treat to hear then again.  He is great at the delivery and, even though the North East has many great comics, he is up there with the best that this region has to offer. Gavin has lined up a show at the Tyne Theatre next year (Gavin Webster Plays Live To Actual People - Saturday, 06/03/2021 - Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/TYNEgavinwebster  #Ad).



This was a good evening out. Three funny comics, nice food and cold beer. It was wonderful to see a live show again. The three acts were a pleasure to watch and we’ve already booked to go again next week.


Next week: Britain’s Got Talent winner ‘Lost Voice Guy’ will appear with a North East Theatre Guide favourite Lee Kyle. Matt Reed will compere again. To book go to the venue website: http://route72cafe.co.uk/friday-night-comedy-book-now.

Review by Stephen Oliver

On the web:

Address: Route 72 Café, Preserving Works, Newburn Industrial Estate, Newcastle upon Tyne NE15 9RT