Going Out Guide (May 18 – May 24)

Co-founder of Pickering - Polly Taylor

Looking to have a laugh around Tunbridge Wells?

It’s a good weekend for comedy, with three days’ worth of gigs starting on Friday, with the comedy circuit seemingly recovering from pandemic restrictions.

Kicking off the run of shows is Tonbridge Comedy Night at the E.M. Forster Theatre (EMFT) on Friday, featuring magic tricks and verbal gags from Otiz Cannelloni, whose other stage specialty is stupidity.

Supporting him is comedy Welshman Matt Rees, while the compère is the quick-witted Ross Smith.

Comedy as a genre has revved back up after pandemic restrictions, according to an EMFT marketing spokesperson.

“On the dramatic front, there are not as many groups touring, so there’s less choice for venues. Meanwhile, comedians seem to have gone from zero sixty very quickly.”

Comedy gigs were moved out of their usual space in EMFT’s Studio to the main theatre as a Covid-19 measure, but she told the Times, “This does also give us the ability to go above 80 people.”

And she confirmed that ticket sales for the Tonbridge School-based venue were ‘definitely heading in the right direction’.

“Ticket sales are on their way back to where they were, but it’s a matter of holding your nerve,” she added, noting that audiences had got into the habit of waiting to buy tickets out of a fear that someone would have to cancel due to Covid-19, but now seemed to be returning to old spontaneous habits – which can also mean last-minute ticket sales.

“Now people are thinking, ‘Do we fancy going out? Yes, let’s buy tickets.’” She said.

On Saturday night, the spotlight flicks to Trinity Theatre, where award-winning comedian, writer and broadcaster Jarlath Regan is headlining.

He is followed by Anuvab Pal, who has such a reputation for intelligent and engaging wit that one reviewer said ‘will leave you coming away feeling much more intelligent than when you arrived’.

Finally, on Sunday night [May 22], the laughs come from Andrew Bird in the Forum Basement (Sussex Arms), in the Dark Horse Live Comedy show.

Andrew is a headliner in his own right, but has supported the even bigger names of Rhod Gilbert, Rob Brydon and Michael McIntyre – most recently in Michael McIntyre’s appearances at Wembley and the O2.

The show starts at 7:30pm – unless you are lucky enough to have got tickets to the podcast recording at 6pm (only 50 tickets).



On Stage & Screen

IN ‘Hangmen’ at the Oast Theatre (Tonbridge), and a sinister stranger walks into a pub and provokes an executioner… May 21-28 at 7:30pm (Sunday matinée 3pm).

Trinity Theatre is screening a live performance of the Royal Ballet’s production of ‘Swan Lake’, from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on Thursday, May 19 at 7:15pm.

‘To Catch a Thief’ is next Monday’s [May 23] Senior Cinema classic, at 10:30am. Trinity Theatre. As a former cat-burglar, Cary Grant is in the frame for a series of thefts… unless he can find the real criminal.

Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar- and BAFTA-winning film ‘Belfast’ is back onscreen locally, at Rusthall Community Cinema. Saturday, May 21. Doors at 7pm.

At the Odeon, ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ (12A) continues his rampage, with multiple scheduled performances daily. Meanwhile, ‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’ is holding up the side well, with numerous showings.


Going Live

Natalie Black brings her Adele impersonation to Trinity Theatre on Friday [May 20] at 8pm. Can she Make You Feel her Love?

At The Forum, the group Nancy Boys Don’t Cry pay tribute to Placebo and The Cure, supported by TEDDYYBEARR and Tomm Thomas. Friday [May 20] at 7:30pm.

Contemporary folk singer-songwriter Flo Perlin has musical influences from as far away as Iraq, Belarus and the native Colombia of the guitar teacher weho introduced her to Bossa Nova. Hear her mellow voice and music on Sunday [May 22] at 7pm, for Trinity Theatre’s Breathing Room series.

Meanwhile, at The Assembly Hall on May 22, The Carpenters Story tribute duo bring Karen and Richard Carpenter to the stage at 7:30pm this Sunday.

It’s launch night at The Grey Lady on Sunday [May 22], with the premiere of Ash Dodd’s EP ‘Begin Again’. Free copy of the EP included with each ticket. Doors at 7pm.


Family Fun

Knole Fawns, a monthly craft and games group at Knole Park (Sevenoaks), is on this Friday [20 May] at 10:30am to noon. Booking essential (£5), but if you miss out, Knole Park also runs free storytimes every Monday in termtime at 11-11:30am.

The Spa Valley Railway is running this weekend between Tunbridge Wells West and Eridge. Tickets from spavalleyrailway.co.uk.

For adult families (18 and older only), the railway’s Kent Whisky Train leaves Tunbridge Wells West at 2:45pm on Saturday [May 21]. Tickets (£40) include three whiskies from Chatham’s Copper Rivet distillery, with canapés, a mixer and branded whisky glass.

Tonbridge School have given ‘Julius Caesar’ a modern makeover in the setting of 1980s high finance, featuring jealous conspirators plotting to keep Julius Caesar from gaining ultimate power as CEO of Rome Ltd. The run starts on Monday [May 23-26] at the E.M. Forster Theatre (Tonbridge). Performances at 7:30pm.

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