An innovative pop-up theatre is about to unfurl in Canary Wharf bringing with it six days of theatre and entertainment.
Names including comedian Richard Herring and Tom’s Kitchen founder Tom Aikens have been lined up to take their turn in Roundabout, a circular arena which arrives in Montgomery Square from Tuesday, May 9-14.
The portable space is the invention of theatre company Paines Plough which for five decades has been on the road taking shows around the country.
Formed by two friends in 1974 over a pint of Paines Bitter in The Plough pub in Bedford, the company aims to nurture new playwrights.
It has produced more than 170 new plays and fostered the talents of creatives such as Dennis Kelly, who co-wrote Matilda The Musical, poet turned playwright Kate Tempest and Charles III writer Mike Bartlett.
Now thanks to Roundabout, it is breaking more boundaries and is able to come to Canary Wharf for the first time.
Co-artistic director George Perrin said: “Roundabout came about because we found there were parts of the country we couldn’t tour to because they didn’t have a theatre. So we decided to build a pop-up one.
“It took several years and we made some technological break-throughs along the way.
“It ended up being able to do much more than we originally thought.”
The theatre will arrive on the estate flat-packed in a lorry and can be assembled by just two people using only an Allen key and without the need even for a ladder.
Inside it is kitted out with surround-sound and 627 individually controlled LEDs.
“Normally they produce quite cold light but a guy called Howard Eaton invented ones that can go through the full spectrum of colours,” said George.
“Everything can also be pre-programmed so we plug in and are ready to go.”
He added: “Theatre is important because it connects people in a communal experience. Increasingly one of the most precious and rarest things we have is shared experiences.
“We spend so much time looking at hand held devices but this brings people together.”
Paines Plough will put on four performances of its own show Every Brilliant Thing which been seen by over 42,000 people across the world.
Duncan Macmillan developed his own short story with Paines Plough over a decade ago and it has had a number of guises including an exhibition, a Facebook group and an installation, before becoming a theatre production in June 2013.
The one-man show is about the lengths we go to for those we love, told through the eyes of a seven-year-old boy, played by James Rowland.
When his mum is hospitalised after a suicide attempt he makes a list of everything that’s brilliant and worth living for in the world and invites audience members to play his supporting cast.
George said: “It invites people to notice small things around them and recognise their value. It has universal appeal, based on how many people have seen it. We will keep on touring it as long as people want to see it.”
“Too many plays these days are on for a few weeks and then never seen again.”
Tuesday, May, 9
11-11.45am: Baby Sensory (fully booked)
5.30-6.30pm: A Journey through Spain by Ibérica (£20)
Join Ibérica’s wine expert on a journey through Spain, travelling through four different regions and tasting four delicious wines. In just one hour, find out what makes Spanish wine so special as you sample Cava Perelada Brut, white wine Ramon Bilbao, Verdejo from Rueda, rose wine Chivite Las Fincas, Tempranillo and Garnacha from Navarra, red wine Sierra Cantabria Reserva Tempranillo from Rioja.
7.30-9.30pm: Richard Herring – The Best (£15)
Comedian, King of the Edinburgh Fringe, Metro columnist and the UK’s Podfather (RHLSTP, AIOTM) picks his favourite routines from his 12 one-man shows and crams them into 90 minutes for your delectation. Will your favourite routine make the cut? A great introduction to this influential comedian for the newcomer and a welcome greatest hits for long term fans.
Wednesday, May 10
11-11.45am: Bach to Baby family concert (Adult £8, child £6, under 2s free but must book a free ticket)
It took Phileas Fogg 80 days, but star harpist Fontane Liang will whisk you around the world in under an hour, stopping off to dance the tango in Argentina, sing an ode to the Jasmine Flower in China, and groove to the funky jazz beats in America.
Tots can dance, roam about and revel in the wonder of live music while adults take a moment to enjoy the performance.
1-1.30pm: The Art of Fermentation with Tom Aikens (free)
Award-winning chef Tom Aikens and Tom’s Kitchen’s executive chef Richard O’Connell will teach the audience the art of fermentation, including the fermentation of vegetables and making Kombucha a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drinks that can support your health and immune system.
6.45–7.45pm: Every Brilliant Thing (£10)
Paines Plough’s award-winning and heart-warming one-man show by Duncan Macmillan about depression and the lengths we go to for those we love.
James Rowland plays a seven year-old boy whose mum’s in hospital because she finds it hard to be happy.
He makes a list of everything that’s brilliant and worth living for in the world and invites audience members to play his supporting cast.
8.30-10pm: The Black Cat Cabaret (£12)
A dark and daring evening hosted by compère Dusty Limits. The glamorous evening in the round will include special guests Florian Brooks, Miss Frisky and Giddy Heights and feature acrobatics, juggling, music, comedy and more.
Thursday, May 11
6.45–7.45pm: Every Brilliant Thing (as above)
8.30-10pm: The Black Cat Cabaret (as above)
Friday, May 12
11-11.35am: Teddy Bears’ Picnic (Adult £8, child £6, under 2’s free but must book a free ticket)
Combining classical ballet, physical theatre, gorgeous visuals and storytelling, innovative company Let’s All Dance aims to engage and enthral all children, including those with special needs. The teddies would love you to join them as they eat, dance, play and have fun Little ones can bring their own teddy, clap along and have their photo taken with the dancers.
6.45–7.45pm: Every Brilliant Thing (as above)
8.30-10pm: Comedy Club (£12)
Expect wit, satire and silliness from this line-up of five emerging and established comedians.
Confirmed acts include Mark Oliver who recently completely the first leg of a national tour supporting Russell Howard, Dave Fulton an American comedian who has appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Steve Coogan’s Saxondale, and Jen Brister a comedian from South London and regular at comedy clubs around the UK.
Saturday, May 13
11-11.45am: Baby Broadway family concert (Adult £8, child £6, under 2s free but must book a free ticket)
This show brings West End musicals to your doorstep. The whole family can sing and dance along to well-known songs from hit shows such as Mary Poppins, Oliver, Beauty And The Beast, Frozen and many more performed by West End singers.
2.30-3.30pm: Boppin Bunnies (Adult £8, child £6, under 2s free but must book a free ticket)
An interactive musical show for families. Go on a journey through the movies led by the SoundSpark quartet and pick up Boppin’ Bunnies Classics with percussion instruments for full audience participation.
Go prepared to sing and join in with the award-winning team of musicians in this high energy, musical experience.
4.30–5.30pm: Every Brilliant Thing (as above)
Sunday, May 14
12-1pm: Tales from the Shed (Adult £8, child £6, under 2s free but must book a free ticket)
Vibrant, interactive theatre shows by Chickenshed Theatre in north London that are perfect for young children.
Informal, lively and engaging, the performance will reflect the diverse world we live in where everyone is included.
Expect colourful puppets and live songs featuring the same much loved characters – from Can-Can the beautiful bird to laid back Lion Down and The Thing That Goes Blurgh!
Children (and adults) are encouraged to make a lot of noise and to make the story happen.
2-3pm: Tales from the Shed (as above)
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook