Category Archive: In praise of…

In praise of… Scotland

The first search result on google images for "Scotland". Not bad, eh?

As a country to whom Paines Plough owes a great debt for the many world-class playwrights it has produced, we thought there was no better way to celebrate last Friday’s Burns Night than to ask twitter for a full set of its favourite Scottish plays.

As we followed a great Scot’s path to the Australian Open final on the radio (we were so hopeful for Sunday after that display…), we loved watching your suggestions pour in. Confirmation if you ever needed it that there’s a lot of love out there for Scots scribes.

The most popular choices were Gregory Burke’s BLACKWATCH, David Greig’s OUTLYING ISLANDS, MEN SHOULD WEEP by Ena Lamont Stewart, David Harrower’s KNIVES IN HENS and THE CHEVIOT, THE STAG AND THE BLACK BLACK OIL by John McGrath.

Here’s the full list, with a few disqualifications at the end:

365 by David Harrower
A WHOLLY HEALTHY GLASGOW by Ian Heggie
BE NEAR ME by Iain McDiarmid
BLACK WATCH by Gregory Burke
BLACKBIRD by David Harrower
BULLET CATCH by Rob Drummond
DECKY DOES A BRONCO by Douglas Maxwell
DIG by Katie Douglas
DUNSINANE by David Grieg
EUROPE by David Grieg
FLANEURS by Jenna Watt
FUTUREPROOF by Lynda Radley
GAGARIN WAY by Greg Burke
GOOD WITH PEOPLE by David Harrower
IRON by Rona Munro
KNIVES IN HENS by David Harrower
MANCUB by Douglas Maxwell
MEN SHOULD WEEP by Ena Lamont Stewart
MIDSUMMER by David Grieg
NORMAL by Anthony Neilson
OUTLYING ISLANDS by David Grieg
ROADKILL by Stef Smith
SHIMMER by Linda McLean
STITCHING by Anthony Neilson
THE ARCHITECT by David Grieg
THE BIG PICNIC by Bill Bryden
THE CHEVIOT, THE STAG AND THE BLACK BLACK OIL by John McGrath
THE HARD MAN by Tom McGrath and Jimmy Boyle
THE SLAB BOYS TRILOGY by John Byrne
TRAINSPOTTING by Irvine Welsh
YELLOW MOON by David Grieg

Disqualified

MACBETH (too obvious)
THE GUILD SISTERS (too Canadian)
THE BACCHAE in a new version by David Grieg (too old)
GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (have we missed something?)
BRIGADOON with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe (too musical)

Let us know if your favourite Scottish play isn’t on the list.

In praise of . . . Newcastle

The sight of the bridges across the Tyne seen from an East Coast train carriage will never fail to impress. The curving green, regimental blue and criss-cross browns stretch out towards a kink in the river for some brief seconds before jackets are pulled on to face the Geordie chill. It’s Newcastle all over really – the sublime quickly succeeded by a firm and familiar slap on the back.

We spent two weeks there with Simon Stephen’s London, and the staff at the Live Theatre treated us very well indeed. Cast and crew spent their free time exploring the town and peripheries, so we thought we’d put a list together of where they went and where they’d have gone given more time.

Just after we left, the news broke that Newcastle City Council will be making some pretty drastic cuts to the arts budget. Paines Plough’s stance will no doubt be obvious (read Lee Hall’s impassioned but ultimately doomed manifesto we re-tweeted). Instead, this is a blog to celebrate what is already great about the city, rather than lamenting an uncertain future.

So here’s where Paines Plough would send you, given half the chance . . .

The Quayside

There will always be a chorus role for stag and hen does in Newcastle. They descend every weekend to spend amounts rivalling even what the capital might take. And though you probably don’t have them on your cultural bucket list, it’s more than likely you’ll experience it all through osmosis. Breathe in the air of the Quayside on a Saturday night and you’ll have effectively sunk four Bacardi’s chased by a generously-measured Jagerbomb before you’ve spotted the next cheesy-chip stained mini-skirt.

Even by day the Quayside is a heady experience. It has undergone some remarkable regeneration over recent years which have slowly erased the few traces that stood from the days of ship-building. Amidst the anodyne high-rise flats that now puncture the horizon, prized possessions of the Newcastle trendies and Geordie Shore ‘actors’, you also have the magnificent Baltic Flower Mill, The Sage and the Millennium Bridge. The first is home to most of town’s contemporary art, the second a wood-panelled acoustic phenomenon, housing world-class concerts every day of the week, and the last a ‘blinking bridge’ – probably the most photographed structure in Newcastle.

There is, of course, the Live Theatre. It’s a theatre whose trajectory charts a building proving itself through quality and determination, rather than nostalgia and Noel Coward. We’ve just played there with London and look forward to returning soon. And whatever you end up seeing on stage, you’d be denser than a Maccum walking alone through central Newcastle on a derby weekend not to try one of the Broad Chare’s scotch eggs afterwards. Pure bliss.

Pink Triangle

The gay quarter of Newcastle is quite something. With bars as gregarious as the spray-tanned clientele they attract, there are also slightly more demure establishments. Like most bars in Newcastle, they change their name as quickly as pints change hands with the bartenders, but there are plenty worth a visit.

Though not strictly within the Triangle, just over the road there is The Forth. That’s the place to go for a trendy pint and just opposite is the Jazz Café. It looks shut most of the time but push the door open and you’ll more often than not find a friendly crowd. It’s known for the live jazz, but the salsa night has something to say for itself too.

This part of town is also the place to go for late night music – regardless of whether you like boys, girls, or both. Head of Steam often has live gigs, and if your ears are not ringing when you spend a night on the tiles at Digital, you’ve probably been there too often. And for those who can hack it, a final fling on the Powerhouse dancefloor is an experience to be remembered. Like most other superclubs, the building has been handled by many a grubby owner, but the size and fun factor keeps them coming back, whoever is profiteering from the overpriced drinks.

Oh and there’s also the Discovery Museum and the Centre for Life in the same area, which are both museums worth a visit – but take those how you will.

The coast

Ask any Geordie residing somewhere other than their home town what they miss, and one of the first things they will mention is the sea. The stretch of coast that is no further than a twenty minute metro ride from the centre is worth the £3 or so it will cost you to get there.

And there’s fierce contest for the bonniest beach. Some might say the forerunner is Tynemouth, but those from south of the river will probably direct you to South Shields or even Marsden. Go there in the summer and you’ve practically saved yourself a flight to Spain (sort of). But whatever the season, combine some a fish & chips with a Minchella’s ice cream, and you’re laughing.

You’ll also be able to spot the numerous ships on the horizon, both recreational and mercantile, reminding you of Newcastle’s recent past. Though few and far between nowadays, the ride to and from the town will whisk you past the remnants of the shipyards that once thrived all along the Tyne.

Night at the dogs

There’s a line in a well-known Geordie play that goes something along the lines of if you’re coming to the region and you’re not into whippets or leeks, then you’re stuffed. Granted, they’re talking about a town outside central Newcastle without libraries or other such distractions, but with the way thing are going perhaps it bears repeating.

Whether the libraries stay or go, dogs will remain a central preoccupation to many. Although televised in the bookies up and down the country, nothing beats the real thing. Pie and ale in hand, for just a few quid you can soak in the atmosphere and howl at your newly sponsored friend for the evening.

Grainger Market

It’s probably the smell of the place that is its distinguishing feature. The covered market is far from being reduced to sepia-induced instant nostalgia just yet. That’s probably because of the range of goods (counterfeit or otherwise) that can still be bought there. Whether you’re replacing a smashed phone screen, or you’re in need of a cut – of either the meat or mop variety, Grainger Market will no doubt do it for you. At a decent price too.

Ouseburn valley

If your idea of a night out is sweaty bump-grinding to Rihanna, then this part of town is not for you. We have nothing against her, or her obnoxious base lines, but the Ouseburn valley offers something of a respite to the traditional Newcastle scene.

First and foremost it is the green so near the centre of the city that will keep you coming back for more. The Town Moor offers this too (maybe not for much longer . . .) but there are few other distractions that are found in such abundance as down the Ouseburn. The Cluny’s reputation precedes it and deservedly so. It nurtures local music talent and has a food and drinks menu to cater for everyone. The atmosphere is second to none, as is the ale selection.

Finally, if you’re not taken by what’s on at the multiplex, The Star and Shadow cinema is an arts venue running film, art and music catering for a huge range of tastes. The whole outfit is volunteer run so definitely deserves your support.

So that’s it really . . . 

Find an ale of your liking, go to the stadium if that’s your wish, but most of all enjoy Newcastle and send it our regards. Until we return.

 

In praise of… Manchester

Our autumn tour of Simon Stephens’ LONDON closed in Manchester last month at the Royal Exchange Studio, our home from home in the North West. Having grown up just south of Manchester, our AD George lists his top tips if you’re visiting the city (having promised us they won’t all be pubs). 

The Northern Quarter

Amidst an increasing and rather thinly-veiled marketing trend to brand areas of cities ‘quarters’ (and increasingly ‘neighbourhoods’) , the Northern Quarter stands out as an exception. Independent shops, bars and restaurants cluster around Affleck’s Palace, just south of Ancoats and Picadilly station and before you reach Market Street and the Triangle. Importantly the area is home to  around 500 residents – it serves, and is supported by, a local community. Beautiful flats sit atop the shop fronts in converted warehouses and factories. Creative industries populate office block conversions. It’s telling that the area doubled as New York Village in the film remake of Alfie.

The Craft and Design Centre

Over 30 years old, and with a seal of approval from Elbow’s Guy Garvey, The Craft and Design Centre is home to around 30 photographers, potters, jewellery-makers, clothes designers and more who all sell their wares direct from their on-site workshops. A guaranteed one-stop shop for your Christmas list.

The Squares and Gardens

As you walk through the city centre, it’s not long before the street opens on to one of Manchester’s ten squares and three gardens. They’re at their best at this time of year when the ever-expanding Christmas markets take over their every square inch and become truly communal spaces. Manchester International Festival turn Albert Square in to their festival bar every two years.

The full list is Albert Square, St Peter’s Square, St Ann’s Square, Motor Street Square, Catalan Square, Stephenson Square, Exchange Square, Shambles Square, Crown Square, Great Northern Square, Cathedral Gardens, Piccadilly Gardens and Parsonage Gardens.

The Kings Arms, Salford

Whilst not technically in Manchester, a quick nip over the canal brings you to one of our favourite watering holes in the whole of the UK (come on – there was bound to be a pub sooner or later). We’ve written about The Kings Arms before. Aside from being owned by the legendary Paul Heaton, it serves as the setting for a large proportion of Fresh Meat who arrive to film on location on a weekly basis.

Grill on the Alley / Grill on New York Street

Admittedly part of a (nonetheless independently owned) chain, these are still two of the best restaurants in Manchester, as long as you are a meat-lover. Essentially upmarket diners, they serve beef from cows that for their life-spans have been consistently massaged and fed on beer. Call us suckers for a gimmick but if I’m going to eat cow I want it to have lived the kind of life I aspire to.

Beetham Tower

A brave piece of design, engineering and town planning, this hotel, restaurant and apartment block dwarfs the rest of the Manchester sky-line. The sheer scale and height of the tower in comparison to everything around it is awesome. Costing £150 million, it’s the highest building in Manchester, the tallest residential building in Europe and the 7th tallest building in England standing at 168.87 metres high, with a total of 47 floors and home to the Manchester Hilton Hotel, 219 luxury apartments and 16 penthouses. The café/bar  Cloud 23 is only half way up yet on a clear day offers panoramic views of Greater Manchester and beyond to the Peak District. They’ll tell you it books months ahead for afternoon tea but with a little bit of charm you can talk your way up there for a quick look around. It’s well worth the effort. The tower is used to beautiful metaphorical effect in Sarah McDonald Hughes’ COME TO WHERE I’M FROM, which you can listen to here.

Metroshuttle Free City Centre Bus Service

I don’t quite remember when this arrived on the scene but it is brilliant and every city should have one. Three routes get you to any corner of the city in under 10 minutes. For free. ‘Nuff said.

The Oast House

According to their website, “Oast Houses have their roots steeped in the traditions of beer making. Warm air from fired on the ground floor would rise through the building drying the hops scattered across the floors above ready for the Master Brewers to then begin their work”. The difference with this one is that it sits in the middle of the ultra-modern and ultra-sleek Spinningfields development and not a German field.

Old Trafford

As a United fan I’m biased, but this stadium is incredible.

In praise of…Salisbury

This autumn our production of LONDON by Simon Stephens opened it’s national tour in Salisbury. As part of our regular blog series, our AD George sings the city’s praises. (PP ED: Is there a theme emerging here…?)

There’s no doubt that the Cathedral is the head-liner  but there are many more gems to be found in the nooks and crannies of this beautiful Wiltshire city.

The River Avon

Meandering through the heart of the city and out to its suburbs, you can’t beat an autumnal river-side stroll along this stretch of the Avon.

Summer Lightening Ale

Brewed by Hop Back in Salisbury since 1986, this superb golden ale is available in most good pubs in the local area.

The Haunch of Venison

If you can nab the snug, bar-side ‘horse box’ seating area before the German tourists beat you to it, a visit to this beautiful old pub is a must. Aside from the barmaids’ tales of Churchill’s clandestine cabals, a severed hand still holding the card he was caught cheating with found stuffed up the chimney and secret tunnels to what used to be an upstairs brothel, they serve a superb selection of locally brewed ales, including Ringwood’s superb FortyNiner and, of course, Hop Back’s Summer Lightning.

Boston Tea Party

A tiny high street shop front opens out to labyrinthine staircases and huge ceilinged refurbishment of an inn dating back to 1314 serving excellent coffee and delicious pulled pork wraps.

Stonehenge

You can’t go to Salisbury and not visit Stonehenge – even if the last time you went there was on a rainy school trip in the 80s. You can’t get as close as you used to be able to (unless you’re a Druid, goes the rumour) but it’s still pretty impressive, as collections of big rocks go.

The Cosy Club

Once we found this place it became a daily regular with its excellently priced and very tasty dishes, free wifi and friendly staff. Cary Crankson says: “The Ham hock – get it down ya.”

The Chough

Tiny up front but huge inside, this became a Sunday haunt due to the pub quiz. We never won. But we had fun.

We’re back in Salisbury next year, so if there’s anywhere we’ve missed off our list that we should make a must-see next time we’re local let us know by posting a comment below or by tweeting us @painesplough.

In praise of . . . Glasgow

‘There’s been a wee boo-boo’ . . .

. . . is the phrase that will be remembered from Paines Plough’s rehearsal period in Glasgow this summer gone. Not a reference to our production of Good with People, it is instead the reaction of a pensioner in the local press talking about the North Korean Olympic flag debacle.  But rather than being a cause for continued embarrassment, we think it encapsulates our opinion of the city perfectly.

Because there has been a wee boo-boo if anyone south of the border thinks that Edinburgh is the only Scottish city worth visiting. Glasgow is the veritable arts capital of the country. It has a proud past, striking architecture and is the jumping off point for some of the most breath-taking scenery that the United Kingdom has to offer.

We’re off to the The Tron Theatre next week with London (have you booked yet?), so it’s just the right time to update our Glasgow hit list.

Oran Mor

Paines Plough knows this part of town well. We have worked on numerous of the Play, Pie and a Pint productions at Oran Mor. It’s a lunchtime thing where the main course is a hearty portion of new writing, with a side order of pie and ale all at an extremely reasonable price. We think the clue is in the name. The setting is a gutted church, and the atmosphere inside is what brings us back each time. Safe to say it is less about worship and more about revelry as the additional comedy nights, live music and unbeatable whisky selection retain the parish’s congregation. Worth mentioning also is the surrounding West End area. Set in the backdrop of Kelvingrove Park, it is home to Glasgow University and some impressive Victorian architecture.

Citizens’ Theatre

We promise to stop talking about theatre in a second (sort of). The third venue in town that is always worth a visit is the Citizens’ Theatre. They’ve recently done a co-production with Mike Bartlett on his re-write of Medea and they also hosted us on the Love, Love, Love tour. Its trademark black and bright pink interiors are all part of the fun. National Theatre of Scotland often use the space for their productions and under Dominic Hill’s artistic direction, we are always looking forward to what they come up with next.

Trongate 103

This is somewhere we are yet to visit but which comes highly recommended. Billed as an arts resource space, it is home to trendy creative organisations and has a year round gallery space. The people in charge also programme talks and readings to bring together the creative folk of Glasgow and whilst PP are there, composer Nigel Clark will be hosting one of his regular gigs with actress Judith Williams.

Arisaig restaurant

Bringing food to share with another Paines Plough staff member is a bit of a double-edged sword. Sure, you’ll be greeted with smiles and warm wishes, but you’d be fooled to think that your colleague is demonstrating a particularly spirited reaction to your presence in the office. They’re really just wondering what’s in your Tesco bag and woe-betide if it’s not at least 60% glucose based. Although not sugar, Arisaig does venison sausages and some of the snappiest seafood going. If you’re in town to watch London, try this place in Merchant City for pre or post-show dining. Just don’t go with one of us lot – blink and you’ll only have those especially bloody chunk of haggis left on your plate.

FOUNDATION Glasgow

Ok, so we’re sort of back to theatre with this one. But seeing as Sarah had reputedly never gone further north than the Watford Gap before starting at Paines Plough, we’ve already booked her into this Glasgow museum. It’s theatre because the centrepiece is a black box sound and light show. Over fifteen minutes the entire history of Glasgow is projected onto the floor from an impressive looking rig to educate those new to the city, or just unaware. It also shows how the Commonwealth Games in 2014 are going to look.

The Botanic Gardens

By night, the glass domes of Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens look like giant glowing spinning tops – and if you were lucky enough to catch Three Sisters at the Young Vic you’ll know how mesmerising those can be. With walks next to the River Kelvin, the gardens are immaculate and provide a welcome break from the rumble of the city. Although not quite the Highlands, it’ll do for a few hours for script reading and switching the iphone onto flight mode.

The Tron

Last but not least is our home for the week, The Tron. It is home to the majority of Glasgow’s new writing and is one of the leading players is Scottish theatre. The week before we are there, friend of the family Blythe Duff will be giving another stalwart performance in Rona Munro’s thriller Iron, and just after us there is a Macbeth partly in Gaelic. Michael Boyd was at the helm once upon a time, and it is real pleasure to be playing the space on our London tour. We cannot wait.

Have we missed anything out? Let us know.

And have you booked your tickets yet? Do it here.

In praise of…stationery.

Here at PP HQ we’re proper stationery geeks.

This week we’ve happened upon a rather exciting discovery, otherwise known as the Rhodia A4 Meeting Book. Having previously been big fans of the Moleskine (classic) and Muji’s recycled A4 and A5 notepads (retro) we think we might just have been won over by Rhodia’s practicality and funky design. It has separate sections for date, notes and action points with two sides of one detachable page per meeting. Drool.

Check out our gallery below.

Tweet us or post below to tell us about your favourites.

Write About Love

In celebration of St.Valentines Day, we’ve been collecting the very best ‘lines about love’ from plays written in the past 50 years. Twitter has been ablaze with #linesaboutlove from Simon Stephens, Alan Bennett, James Graham, Patrick Marber and Stephen Sondheim, amongst others.

So, as promised, here are our favourites from your hundreds of suggestions:

joerosswilliams: @painesplough “You pulled my shirt up… You listened to my heart” PENETRATOR (Anthony Neilson) #linesaboutlove

Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/joerosswilliams/statuses/169403187625857024

SianGoff: @painesplough “I’m so in love I could puke.” (Love&Money, Dennis Kelly) #linesaboutlove

Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/SianGoff/statuses/169409960462131200

camillavalerie_: @painesplough “Anyway I thought I’d pop by. Change the flowers. I don’t know if I’ll get much of a chance to pop back here so, anyway…I love you.” (LUNGS BY DUNCAN MACMILLAN”

Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/camillavalerie_/statuses/169419007961731072

garethjandrell: @painesplough “Have you ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist, wrapped in blood” Patrick Marber, Closer #linesaboutlove

Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/garethjandrell/statuses/169420567907274752

gabz331: @painesplough “Dearest darling beautiful wonderful thing do u know how much I love adore lust fantasise want need have to have must have love passionately eternally perpetually love u desire u want u?” (Stockholm Bryony Lavery) #linesaboutlove

Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/gabz331/statuses/169463664779337729

But our undoubted favourite (and yes, it’s all one line) came from @kellizezulka:

@kellizezulka @painesplough #linesaboutlove I love this monologue from Crave by Sarah Kane. A bit long for Twitter; here’s a link: http://t.co/qJ1cxY6U

Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/kellizezulka/statuses/169393251294523392

Here is the line reproduced in full, taken from Sarah Kane’s CRAVE:

“And I want to play hide-and-seek and give you my clothes and tell you I like your shoes and sit on the steps while you take a bath and massage your neck and kiss your feet and hold your hand and go for a meal and not mind when you eat my food and meet you at Rudy’s and talk about the day and type your letters and carry your boxes and laugh at your paranoia and give you tapes you don’t listen to and watch great films and watch terrible films and complain about the radio and take pictures of you when you’re sleeping and get up to fetch you coffee and bagels and Danish and go to Florent and drink coffee at midnight and have you steal my cigarettes and never be able to find a match and tell you about the the programme I saw the night before and take you to the eye hospital and not laugh at your jokes and want you in the morning but let you sleep for a while and kiss your back and stroke your skin and tell you how much I love your hair your eyes your lips your neck your breasts your arse your

and sit on the steps smoking till your neighbour comes home and sit on the steps smoking till you come home and worry when you’re late and be amazed when you’re early and give you sunflowers and go to your party and dance till I’m black and be sorry when I’m wrong and happy when you forgive me and look at your photos and wish I’d known you forever and hear your voice in my ear and feel your skin on my skin and get scared when you’re angry and your eye has gone red and the other eye blue and your hair to the left and your face oriental and tell you you’re gorgeous and hug you when you’re anxious and hold you when you hurt and want you when I smell you and offend you when I touch you and whimper when I’m next to you and whimper when I’m not and dribble on your breast and smother you in the night and get cold when you take the blanket and hot when you don’t and melt when you smile and dissolve when you laugh and not understand why you think I’m rejecting you when I’m not rejecting you and wonder how you could think I’d ever reject you and wonder who you are but accept you anyway and tell you about the tree angel enchanted forest boy who flew across the ocean because he loved you and write poems for you and wonder why you don’t believe me and have a feeling so deep I can’t find words for it and want to buy you a kitten I’d get jealous of because it would get more attention than me and keep you in bed when you have to go and cry like a baby when you finally do and get rid of the roaches and buy you presents you don’t want and take them away again and ask you to marry me and you say no again but keep on asking because though you think I don’t mean it I do always have from the first time I asked you and wander the city thinking it’s empty without you and want want you want and think I’m losing myself but know I’m safe with you and tell you the worst of me and try to give you the best of me because you don’t deserve any less and answer your questions when I’d rather not and tell you the truth when I really don’t want to and try to be honest because I know you prefer it and think it’s all over but hang on in for just ten more minutes before you throw me out of your life and forget who I am and try to get closer to you because it’s a beautiful learning to know you and well worth the effort and speak German to you badly and Hebrew to you worse and make love with you at three in the morning and somehow somehow somehow communicate some of the overwhelming undying overpowering unconditional all-encompassing heart-enriching mind-expanding on-going never-ending love I have for you.”

Happy St.Valentines Day.

In praise of…Hull

Along with the SIXTY FIVE MILES company, I have been up in Hull since the beginning of January, rehearsing Matt Hartley’s beautiful play in time for its opening last week. One of the great joys of this job is the chance it offers to travel, getting to know the UK’s many towns, villages and cities along the way.

Despite having lots of friends who came to University here (Matt included), I didn’t know Hull at all before we decamped here for the month. Having spent three years living in Sheffield when at University myself (and a considerable amount of time back in the city for last year’s Sheffield Theatres collaboration, ROUNDABOUT), I’ve noticed certain similarities between these two Northern Giants; the warmth of the people, the positive effect of a large student population, the tension between historic and modern and the important place the theatre plays in the cultural landscape.

So in celebration of our collaboration with Hull Truck Theatre, here are my five favourite things about Hull:

Hull Marina

Whilst it feels slightly disconnected from the centre of town, the Marina is a beautiful new development where I have had the great fortune of living for the past five weeks. On cold, crisp days, with the sun hanging low in the sky, it’s a beautiful area for a head-clearing, pre-rehearsal stroll. Close to the old town and near to the brilliant The Deep (a sub-marium).

Princes’ Avenue

Much like Eccleshall Road in Sheffield, Princes Ave (as it’s known locally) is a residential area packed with independent restaurants, bars, cafes and shops and has been our first choice hang-out on Sundays. We tend to start with a drink at the laid-back Pave, with its choice of around 30 different international beers and live Jazz. Then it’s on to Brimbles for a roast where the informal atmosphere, good wine and well-priced beef and turkey combo goes down a treat. A contingent also enjoyed a great meal at Marrakech one night last week.

Shopping

For a town that has three different shopping centres, you’d expect to be able to pick up at least one or two choice pieces – not least during the January sales. The St.Stephens Centre in between the theatre and the station is the pick of the bunch, but Katie and Amy managed to dig out a few timeless classics at the two big city-centre charity shops. Needless to say we’re all a little lighter in the pocket but better dressed as a result.

Hull Truck Theatre

For several reasons, Hull Truck Theatre is a jewel in Hull’s cultural crown. The spirit of the theatre’s roots still lives strong in its audience – there is an ownership and investment in the informality of the company’s tradition that permeates the building and its patrons. Clearly the ethos of Mike Bradwell and John Godber of making fiercely entertaining, locally relevant, brand new and deeply personal theatre in a democratic space is cherished by the people of Hull. But now it’s got the added dimension of being complemented by a much bigger theatre, a broader repertory of work (including co-productions with neighbouring theatres, classic work and community projects) and a modern approach to collaboration and touring. Moreover, it does some of the best food in the whole of Hull. The Fish Pie (served with smoked salmon Caesar salad) is one of the best any of us have ever tasted. Craige is officially addicted to the Eggs Benedict, and between us, Ian and I just about drank them dry of locally brewed Wold Gold. A fantastic team of people, both front of house and backstage, only adds to the feeling that Hull Truck is a lovely place to work, eat, drink, watch and play.

The Star and Garter

The rule is that what happens on tour stays on tour, and never has this been truer than when we discovered The Star and Garter. On a Thursday night, the DJ will play whatever you want, there are free shots for every customer between 2 and 3am, and last orders is at 5. There’s enough haze to satisfy any lighting designer, the sound system is suitably deafening, and whilst the Guinness tastes like liquorish, its practically impossible to leave. No photos for this entry I’m afraid – The Star and Garter has to be experienced first hand…

Whilst we hope to have the chance to take the production on tour at a later date, SIXTY FIVE MILES is currently scheduled for a limited run in Hull only. You can book tickets here.