Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 612

11 AUGUST 202 2 4 1 WEEKENDING Photography: Chris Blacklay, © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY, Brinkhoff-Moegenburg BOOK IT NOW Quentin Letts The theatre critic’s guide to what’s on love and laughs Laurie Davidson and Natalie Simpson (both right) JACK ABSOLUTE FLIES AGAIN NATIONAL THEATRE, LONDON Richard Bean’s new comedy, based loosely on Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 18th-century classic The Rivals, is a belter. The setting is now the Battle of Britain and Spitfire pilots are pursuing their lovers during pauses between dogfights. The result, complete with Caroline Quentin wringing every drop of laughter out of muddle-wordedMrsMalaprop, is amixture of wit, wordplay, romantic frolics and a deft application of tragedy. The one thing to warn you about, in case you were thinking of taking children, is that some of the jokes are adult and the language becomes a little ripe at times. It would suit older teenagers, though. The staging has the bright colour and whimsy of a cartoon book. The pace is hectic. The tone is artfully ironic, with actors acknowledging the presence of the audience, yet throwing themselves wholeheartedly into their roles. There are even some computer graphics to convey the battle scenes. These are, admittedly, more Biggles than Top Gun, but never mind. Laurie Davidson’s dashing fighter ace Jack is in love withNatalie Simpson’s cool Lydia Languish, who flies planes for the Air Transport Auxiliary. It is obvious to everyone except Lydia that they should be an item. Jack’s uncle Sir Absolute (amagnificent, barking turn fromPeter Forbes) turns up and rotates his bulging eyeballs at MrsMalaprop. Amid all this, plus other romantic pursuits and shenanigans and amaid who cheerfully admits she is merely a plot device, lurks the constant, credible danger of war. For me, that gives Bean’s play an element of jeopardy superior to Sheridan’s original. What is best about this delightful show is that it pokes fun at our lusts and foibles and our British reserve, while never descending to unkindness. On the National’s Olivier stage until 3 September. nationaltheatre.org.uk RAISING AGENTS WARWICKSHIRE Perky four-actor show in praise of that fine outfit, theWomen’s Institute – but that’s only part of the fun. It is performed by theMikron Theatre Company, which at this time of year mainly gets fromA to B by canal boat. Tonight, Friday and Saturday (11-13 August) they are at venues inNapton on the Hill, Southamand Leamington Spa. Maeve Larkin’s play is about aWI branch facing a fight for survival. A ‘PR guru’ comes along with a whizzymodernisation idea and theWI (though not, we hope, Mikron) get a sinking feeling. mikron.org.uk INTERNATIONAL GILBERT AND SULLIVAN FESTIVAL HARROGATE ROYAL HALL After a week in Buxton, the 28th International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival moved toHarrogate last night. This remarkable shindig is ignored by the Londonmedia because the Victorian comic operettas of G&S are not deemed fashionable. But with hundreds of singers andmusicians coming fromall over the globe to entertain thousands of theatregoers, something must be going right. Shows include TheMikado, The Gondoliers, Iolanthe and HMS Pinafore. Until 21 August. gsfestivals.org DISCOVER THE WORK OF A FORGOTTEN GENIUS Working as a nanny in 50s New York, VivianMaier spent her spare time photographing the life of the city, from carefree children and glamorous housewives to the homeless and destitute. She took hundreds of thousands of stunning photos, but her talent was only discovered in 2007, after she died and her belongings went to auction. TheMKGallery inMilton Keynes has brought more than 140 of her pictures together for its summer exhibition, VivianMaier: Anthology – the first time her work has been the subject of amajor UK show. Along with audio and video, the photos tell the story of a woman now considered one of the 20thcentury’s most important street photographers, and the city she caught on film. Runs to 25 September. mkgallery.org SIT BACK AND LISTEN Award-winning comedian – and Strictly contestant – Jayde Adams (left) is the guest on this week’s Dish podcast fromWaitrose. A keen foodie who’d rather spend her cash on a delicious meal than anything else, she talks about working with Heston Blumenthal on TV series Crazy Delicious and cries at the prospect of Angela Hartnett cooking for her – a summery steak with polenta and rojo sauce is on themenu. waitrose.com/dish HIT THE ROAD ON TWO WHEELS Getting children out on a bike is a good thing, but it can get costly with each growth spurt. A new alternative is better for the environment and your pocket, in the form of Bike Club, a kids’ subscription service. From £4.49 a month, you rent a child’s bike, then exchange it for a bigger one each time it’s outgrown. Bike Club delivers the new model, collects the old one and refurbishes it to be enjoyed by a new family at a reduced fee. Bike Club says that each of their two-wheelers saves 336kg of CO2 compared with one that’s bought and owned. The range includes balance bikes, hybrid, road, BMX and mountain bikes, from brands such as Frog, Forme and Puky. You can choose via their interactive änder, or if you’re near Stratford, East London, test out a ride at the John Lewis store there. bikeclub.com freeze frames Explore the work of Vivian Maier at The MK Gallery in Milton Keynes