Issue 286
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BE, HERE, SOON

We're reaching peak festival season — that time of year where if you leave the city for a night, you'll inevitably miss some sort of mind-improving happening. And they don't get much more head spinny than BE Festival, a ballsy mash-up of new European theatre, circus, comedy and visual art. The cultural exchange lands in Brum at the beginning of July, and it doesn't give an eff what you think about Brexit.
PROMISE OF UNCERTAINTY
Last year, Marc Oosterhoff necked a load of whisky on stage, then performed some knife throwing. This year, we hear it's balance he'll be toying with, through levers, pulleys and a see-saw, which could hold his weight, or propel him skyward. But is he the cause of his trials or a victim of fate? Tickets
YELLOW PLACE
What did you achieve in the last 720 seconds? Whatever it was, in the same time you could take in this beautifully choreographed Brief Encounters-esque piece, performed by Spanish duo, Ykor'sia, who are so strong, their dance is almost acrobatic in quality. Tickets
I PROMISE YOU THAT TONIGHT
First prize winner from last year's festival, Tom Cassani's new one-manner, demands that we question what people tell us — an interesting proposition coming from an illusionist, who majors on sleight of hand and stage magic to explore deception and truth. Plus he walks on glass. Tickets
SOUL SEEKERS
Conceived following a six-week stint at asylum centres in Belgium and France, Mokhallad Rakem worked with fellow refugees to create a documentary that'll be projected on to a huge, face-filled sheet. You'll view the piece with the artist and maker for company. Tickets
SILENCE
It's the end of the world, and we need to imagine a new one, says Catalan company, Ça Marche. Chaos will reign in this Lord of The Flies-y piece of improvisation, where local kids create that new world, with the help of pirates, snow and a walrus. Properly batsh*t stuff. Tickets
ONE SHOT
Acrobatics and axe throwing around (and from) a really rather high pole is what to expect from this Belgian duo's 40-minute spectacle of a show. All set to a live rhythm and blues score. Natch. Be assured, both apples and axes feature in the trailer. Tickets
PUNK‽
This homage to the punk movement is around about half dance and half concert. Over the course of an hour the piece explores the influence of punk on fashion and culture through specific dance moves, and, of course, some incredible outfits. Also includes pogo sticks.Tickets
DEADTOWN
This cheery sounding number is by The Forman Brothers, sons of Miloš, the Oscar-winning director of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Being performed in the UK for the first time, the cast includes 20 acrobats, dancers and musicians, telling tales from the Wild West. June 27 to 29
From June 27 to July 6, the main festival runs from July 2. See multiple performances with a day pass from £12, right up to a week-long pass (including dinner on stage at The Rep with the performers each night) for £100.
Venue: BA-HA at Churchills, Mailbox, B1 1RL; Facebook
Choice: Nott wings (£6) Chooser: Frankie, Founder

After a year of pop-ups and kitchen takeovers, Frankie and Becky, the ever so smiley team behind BA-HA, have got themselves some permanent digs. Just the second fully vegan hangout in the city centre, their new des res is Churchills — the wine-slash-gin-slash-bubbly bar at the Mailbox — and BA-HA's intro into the canalside spot feels like a Big Foot sort of step for Brum bringing veganism into the mainstream. But is the food any good? Get three small plates for £15, including dishes like the team's moreish take on meatballs, and our pick, BA-HA's Nott wings. Crispy, battered cauliflower is smothered in Frank's Hot Sauce and topped off with black sesame seeds and spring onions  — a seriously satisfying, flavour-filled plate of food. Oh, and for dipping purposes, it's all about the homemade garlic and chive mayo. The bish and chips (£13) is a popular main, made with banana blossom and served up with pea puree and tartare sauce. Though full of texture, a bit more seasoning and punch in the tartare would have elevated this dish for us. And full disclosure — we had basically just smashed a bottle of Frank's finest (see Nott wings above), so our palates were somewhat compromised. Either way, whether you're a hardened meat eater, favour fish or have been plant-based waaaaaay before it became fashionable, give Frankie and Becky's passion project a thorough trying. In addition to the small and large plates, they do
brunch until 3pm and you can make it a bubbly bottomless one any day you like. How very civilised. Book by emailing bahavegan@outlook.com. Menu

THE PEOPLE BEHIND 'PURPLE'


Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple wasn’t the first (or last) film that saw the director reduce us to a sobbing, blubbering mess, as well as making for a less-than-romantic double date. The same’s certainly true for the cast and crew of this completely new musical stage version, which is the first large-scale, co-production for Brum Hippodrome, who have created the piece with Leicester's Curve Theatre. Most of the cast — pictured here in rehearsal — share emotional memories based on their first experiences with either the 1985 Oscar-nominated film or Alice Walker’s novel, and that can be felt through the gospel, blues and Southern-style vocals, which may or may not have caused our staff writer to shed tears during a taster performance. The tale of personal discovery, racism and abuse certainly doesn't make for comfortable watching, but this production is important and does also promise to leave you elevated at the end. From July 16 to 20, tickets are from £21.

NOT JUST JEWELLERY


Great news for us: we'll be coming first in the Jewellery Quarter Festival's giant Scalextric tournament. Great news for you: second place is still up for grabs! The hulking version of 12-year-old you's fave toy (and somebody else has to do all the setting up) is just one of a raft of upgrades on last year's festival. Also resonating hard and loud with our inner child is the new and fully rideable mini steam engine that'll be chugging about Golden Square with both kids and adults atop. Then there's the usual passel of beer making demos, circus acts (pictured), mead tastings, natural wine stalls and street food aplenty — Canoodle being our pick of the latter. Unsurprisingly, every angle of jewellery-making — workshops and whatnot — is covered, and we have it on good authority that there will be at least one popping candy chocolate lecture. Pay attention! June 29 and 30. Programme

JUNE FILM:
TOY STORY 4


Is there another franchise in history where the fourth entry in a series carries no discernible dip in quality? The best we can come up with is Thunderball, of all things. Anyway, Woody, Buzz et al are back in another existential drama disguised as a kids’ film, this time facing down an owner who is beginning to tire of them and Christina Hendricks as a doll with designs on Woody’s voice box. The best new addition is Forky, a spork given sentience through googly eyes and is convinced he belongs in the rubbish. Oh, and the internet’s man of the moment, Keanu Reeves, is in it. Holy moly, this is nigh on perfect.
At Cineworld at Resorts World from Friday. Added extra: Get a VIP card for your visit, which comes with all these deals. Mention 'I Choose Birmingham' at guest services (ground floor) before 8pm on June 27 to get your card.

ROAM THE AERODROME


Art is what you take from it. And from The Aerodrome exhibition, which opened last week at Ikon, we took a sense of awe, as well as a little bit of non-plussity. We're definitely not nuanced enough to appreciate Polly Apfelbaum’s “two bedsheets with hanging baubles” (not its actual title), nor the puddle which forms part of the collection, and, given how wet it was on the day we visited was so underwhelming it really just made us chuckle. But there are also vast, immersive images which demand your attention, such as Boyd & Evans’ Ocotillo Wells Airfield CA (2016) (pictured). Plus 3D sculptures which have you inspecting every inch to appreciate their complexity, like Roger Hiorns' striking, blue copper sulphate engine. And just when you think it's over, an acapella rendition of Ziggy Stardust spits out of the speakers, courtesy of Turner Prize-winning Susan Philipsz. The exhibition itself stretches across Ikon, filling the Tower Room (literally, with salt) and spilling out onto the forecourt (literally, with that puddle). It’s the type of experience where you wonder if you’re 'allowed in this bit.’ Even the Chelsea fan chanting “who the eff are you?” (on a monitor, thankfully) didn’t put us off venturing down into the, well, we’re calling it a dungeon. Dare you. Until September 8, entry is free.
 
With probably the best sign in greater Brummagem, beer boi Wildcat, opened up on Monday. Next for Stirchley's Pershore Road High Street? Eat Vietnam.
Get behind the curtain, in the loading bay and everywhere in between at the Rep this Saturday from 11am until 5pm, with free workshops and look-sees as part of the theatre's Discovery Day.
The fifth Birmingham Indian Film Festival starts tomorrow. Check out the full programme right here.
It wouldn't be a week in Brum without a new opening. For the w/c June 24, it's Slim Chickens turn, doing the whole buttermilk marinated chicken thing in Grand Central from Tuesday. Their fourth UK spot, the operation started in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Friday night bar deals are hard to come by, but Opus Cornwall Opus is beckoning you into its Cornwall Street bar with half-price prosecco, 2 for 1 cocktails and an all new bar snack menu, served from the restaurant's award-laden kitchen. From 5pm to 8pm. More
 
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WORDS: Katy Drohan Tom Cullen, Robb Sheppard
PICTURES: One Shot — A.Piemme; Soulseekers —
Kurt Van der Elst 
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