It's your weekly guide to culture in the capital. Chris Cooke and Tom Bragg are joined by Tiernan Douieb to discuss the Hobgoblin Comedy Award and his new show the 'Santa Claus Science Experiment'. Plus The Birthday Girls chat about their upcoming Soho Theatre show and perform a sketch, while Richard Tyrone Jones tells us about the very final Utter show taking place next month. We finish with another song from 'Symphony'.

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I love Christmas, me, so any show with the word Christmas in the name is bound to grab my attention (watch out for further Christmassy chats over the coming weeks). Don't make the mistake of thinking that this play is something twee and magical, however; renowned playwright Simon Stephens' play is a story of hope, disappointment, the abandonment of dreams...happily, delivered via the medium of sharply funny dialogue.

'Christmas' was first staged early on in the writer's career, and hasn't really been seen since then, but is now being revived for a month long run at the White Bear. To find out more about the show, and his reasons for bringing the piece back to life, I put some questions to director, Michael Kingsbury. You can read the interview here.

'Christmas' is on at White Bear Theatre from 25 Nov - 21 Dec. See this page here for information and tickets.
CIRCUS: Handspun / Namesake | Jacksons Lane | 28-29 Nov
Following a research at development residency at Jackson's Lane, aerialist Ilona Jäntti gives back to he theatre via this split bill of circus-y works; risky and 'dreamlike' dance-on-a-rope 'Handspun' and 'Namesake', a piece inspired by all-time great aerialist Lilian Leitzel, and by Jäntti's own great grandmother. Details and tickets here.

FILM: Palestine Film Festival | Barbican + various locations | 28 Nov - 11 Dec
Covering all bases (as film festivals typically do) from docs to dramas, from mainstream rom-coms to avant-garde shorts; 2014's London PFF starts with a sold-out gala showing of Najwa Najjar's real-life based West Bank thriller 'Eyes Of A Thief' taking place, as will most of the bigger screenings, at the Barbican. Following that is a real mixed bag, featuring the likes of family-friendly tale 'Giraffada', dark aristocratic satire 'Villa Touma', and, on the non-fictional side, themed shorts sessions on the city of Rmallah and the Gaza Strip, and filmic essays on the PLO's Lebanon zenith, colonisation and refugee return. Details and tickets here.

THEATRE/KIDS: Usagi Yojimbo | Southwark Playhouse | 28 Nov - 4 Jan 2015 (pictured)
Transcribed to the stage straight from the pages of Japanese-American artist Stan Sakai's iconic comic book, 'Usagi Yojimbo' (or 'rabbit bodyguard') follows in the tracks of a young bunny with aspirations to become a samurai warrior. Amy Draper directs a cast of six in this live-action adaptation by Stewart Melton, which is suitable for eight year olds and over. Details and tickets here.

COMEDY: The Barry Wise Wise Tour Of Soho | various locations | 29 Nov (pictured)
Join flat-capped Soho wideboy Barry Wise and his mate Clive for a 4pm or 6pm safari of one of London's most dynamic locales. Disclaimer: the accuracy of pair's facts on Soho's fascinating history may vary, wildly, depending on the whiskey level in their hip flasks. Details and tickets here.

COMEDY: Soirée Subterranea w/ Phil Kay | 'secret underground chamber', Zone 2 | 29 Nov
'Mad Abbot Sir Phil Of Kay' (aka bearded Scotsman Phil Kay) presides over this medieval mix of sit down stand-up and absinthe-based rakishness, which is based loosely on Sir Francis Dashwood et al's elite Hellfire Club of olde. The night is plotted like a ritual induction into a 'tawdry brotherhood' of monks, and will feature the profane comic stylings of honorary friars Ed Aczel, Nik Revell, Michael Brunström and Liberty Hodes; plus Rick Jones on the lute, and an all-important game of Edwardian animal impersonations. Details (which will be revealed on the day of the event) and tickets here.

DANCE: Fresh 2014 w/ Blue Boy Entertainment + Clément Dazin + James Wilton Dance | The Place | 29 Nov
This teen dream of a showcase features short and sweet works from a team of rising young dance companies (not least the jnr wing of Olivier-winning hip hop firm Blue Boy Entertainment), and ace choreographers Clément Dazin, James Wilton and Ben Duke. Details and tickets here.

COMEDY: Aziz Ansari - Live! | Hammersmith Apollo | 30 Nov
Sweet-talking 'Parks And Recreation' princeling Aziz Ansari plants his 'larger than life' solo stand-up show over at the Hammersmith Apollo, which deals with love, feminism, jizz bombs and Ja Rule. Details and tickets here.

COMEDY/FILM/MUSIC: Time Travel With Woody Allen | JW3 | 30 Nov
A Woody Allen-based bolt-on to this year's Jewish Comedy Festival, this event lifts off with a screening of the love/hate director's chillingly dystopian (not) sci-fi vehicle 'Sleepers', followed by space-age comic entertainment, cocktails and live jazz. Details and tickets here.

FILM: Inside Afrofuturism - The Last Angel Of History  | BFI Southbank | 30 Nov (pictured)
Part of the BFI and film curator Ashley Clarke's rich-hued mini-season on Afrofuturism, this showing of John Akomfrah part real, part surreal 1996 'documentary' on the metaphorical significance of AF itself is followed by a panel debate and, separately ticketed, a screening of John Sayles 80s sci-fi oddment 'Brother From Another Planet'. Details and tickets here.
COMEDY: Richard Herring - Lord Of The Dance Settee | Leicester Square Theatre | 1-6 Dec
Noted observational comedian and pedant Richard Herring's apparently themeless latest comic enterprise features material on misheard lyrics, Mexican headgear, and “a man possible named 'Dave Manager'". Details and tickets here.

THEATRE: Hopelessly Devoted | Roundhouse | 1-6 Dec (pictured)
First seen at the Tricycle Theatre earlier this year, spoken word/hip hop artist and playwright Kate Tempest's "devastatingly beautiful" prison-based drama follows life behind bars for one woman, Chess, who copes with isolation and missing loved ones by taking up a music course, and 'the mic'. Details and tickets here.

THEATRE/COMEDY: Mark Thomas - Cuckooed | Tricycle Theatre | 1-13 Dec
Politically-galvanised journalist, activist and stand-up Mark Thomas shifts to the Tricycle his widely praised theatre piece 'Cuckooed' - a sort of autobiographical 'live documentary' about how, at one point, it came to light that a close friend of his was spying on him for Britain's biggest arms dealer (yeah, really); having recently picked it over on the ThisWeek Podcast. Details and tickets here.

DANCE: Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands | Sadler's Wells Theatre | 2 Dec - 11 Jan 2015 (pictured)
In its first major revival since premiering 2005, pop-art choreographer Matthew Bourne's cinematic ballet will feature Terry Davies' same big, eerie scenery and a score of 'shear' brilliance by Danny Elfman, here played live by the New Adventures Orchestra. Details and tickets here.

MUSIC: Nina Nesbitt | Union Chapel | 2 Dec
Pixieish popstar and friend-of-Ed-Sheeran Nina Nesbitt, from Scotland, unplugs to sings songs and seasonal carols as part of this, her so-called Christmas Acoustic Tour. Details and tickets here.

THEATRE: The Picture Of Dorian Gray | secret location, Greenwich | 2-20 Dec
A model-esque young cast (and one horrible old painting) portray the action in The Alchemic Order's take on Oscar Wilde's dark and decadent '...Dorian Gray', which is staged within a 'nineteenth century salon', aka secret Greenwich townhouse given a chintzy Victorian makeover especially for the occasion. Location info is available only on booking tickets. Details and tickets here.

COMEDY: Heroes' Grotto Of Comedy | 27c Throgmorton Street | 3-18 Dec
Stewart 'the grinch' Lee and a team of helper elves pitch camp at the lavish one-time site of Throgmorton's restaurant for this comical Christmas sit-in, in aid of Shelter and Great Ormond St Hospital. One-off shows from Josie Long, Pappy's, John Kearns, Phil Kay and Arthur Smith, a rare PA from Simon Munnery's League Against Tedium alias and the Weirdos Alternative Panto all still to come, the Grotto's first-night Xmas bonanza starts off with a game of John Robertson's acclaimed 'interactive multimedia experience' The Dark Room. Details and tickets here.

MUSIC: Denai Moore | Conway Hall | 3 Dec
Hotly tipped singer Denai Moore released her intimate-feeling new single 'I Swore' earlier this year. Sharp-eared SBTRKT fans may have already heard Moore's silver-lined vocal tones on his track 'The Light' too. Details and tickets here.

THEATRE: 3 Winters | National Theatre | 3 Dec – 3 Feb 2015 (pictured)
Croatian-born Tena Stivicic's hardy first play for the NT, which is directed by the well-versed Howard Davies, traces several generations of a single 'eclectic' family weathering the storm of war-beaten Zagreb between 1945-2011. Details and tickets here.
COMEDY: Alfie Brown - Divorced From Reality (And My Wife) | Soho Theatre | until 6 Dec
Thought-provoking, button-pushing comic Alfie Brown dolls out his fourth show; "another screaming, pretentious, crusading monstrosity" (Brown's words) based on his divorce, Bipolar Disorder, reality and morality at large. "It seems bizarre that we don't ask questions, it seems weird that when we do people tell us we're mad. I'm not mad, you're not mad, society has Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy", shouts its billing. Details and tickets here.

MUSIC: Shamir | Courtyard Theatre | 4 Dec (pictured)
Vegas-based "musician, comedian, singer, rapper, twerker, chef, writer, filmmaker" and "skinny fat ass" Shamir Bailey - who has all the quick-talking sass and panache of, say, Azealia Banks (only in a nineteen year old boy's body) - celebrates his scene-stealing latest single 'On The Regular', and his recent signing to XL Recordings, with this headline show at the Courtyard Theatre. Details and tickets here.

THEATRE: The Secret Life of Your Mobile Phone | Etcetera Theatre | 4-7 Dec
An interactive show for the Wikileaks generation by 'ethical hacker' Glenn Wilkinson and journalist Geoff White, '...Secret Life' takes the proverbial cover off the pedestrian mobile phone, revealing the inner workings of the companies, places and individuals your phone is taking to without you knowing. Until now, that is. Details and tickets here.
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