Seeking reasons to stay alive? How about Matt Haig’s story, York’s short films fest, the return of Making Tracks, a school trip, comedians fed up with division and a wartime tale of survival, suggests CHARLES HUTCHINSON

Solo gig of the week

Amanda Palmer, An Evening Of Piano, Pain & Laughter, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 7.30pm

AMERICAN dark cabaret artiste Amanda Palmer, once of The Dresden Dolls, promotes her third album, but her first in six years, on a solo tour. There Will Be No Intermission tackles the big questions: life, death, grief and how we make sense of it all.

York play of the week

Reasons To Stay Alive, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday

AT 24, Matt’s world collapsed under the weight of depression, and Reasons To Stay Alive is the true story of his journey out of crisis: a profound, uplifting exploration of living and loving better.

Author Matt Haig, formerly of York, says of April de Angelis’s theatrical adaptation of his bestseller, imagined for the stage by director and choreographer Jonathan Watkins: “Very intense for me obviously. Watching the worst moments of my life being acted so brilliantly on stage.”

Welcome back to…

Spector, The Fulford Arms, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

SPECTOR play York on a 23-date autumn tour to promote new single Half Life, the follow-up to their surprise return with I Won’t Wait earlier this year.

Lifted from a forthcoming EP on their own Moth Noise imprint, the song sees the reinvigorated London five-piece embrace their less urgent side, while showcasing their trademark sublime melodies and poignant lyrics.

School play of the week

Tom Gates Live On Stage!, Grand Opera House, York, Wednesday to Saturday

TOM is doing everything possible to stay out of trouble but somehow he has acquired three sad faces on the school achievement chart. One more, and he can’t go on the school trip. Can his best friend Derek help?

Liz Pichon’s new story is transferred to the stage with songs and Pichon’s illustrations in a children’s show written by the author with Birmingham Stage Company actor-manager Neal Foster, whose company has brought Horrible Histories and Gangsta Granny shows to York.

Festival of the week

Aesthetica Short Film Festival, all over York, Wednesday to Sunday

NOW in its ninth year, York’s ever-expanding short film festival assembles 300 short films, 16 features, guest programmes, a new industry marketplace with 40 exhibitors and more than 100 industry events, masterclasses, an Immersive Experiences Lab and more besides.

Best place to start? Grab a chunky, 288-page brochure around York or go to

Hopeful hit of happiness of the week

Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Jonny & The Baptists in Love York And Hate B**tards, The Crescent, York, Thursday, 7.30pm

“WE live in a divided world and we want to cross that divide,” say musical activist-comedians Jonny &

The Baptists, who are sick of being political and divisive. “This show is about how everything is definitely fine. Let’s just get along!”

Following up swiftly…

Paul Smith, Following, York Barbican, Thursday, 8pm

AFTER selling out his September gig, cheeky chappie Liverpool comic Paul Smith makes a hasty return to the Barbican with his stories of marital disharmony, looking after his autistic eldest son and being a secret eater. Please note, expect swearing and adult content from Smith, who reckons he is hard to put up with. “It’s funny on stage,” he says. “But in real life, you’d punch my head in.”

Friday’s Barbican performance of Welsh firebrand Rhod Gilbert’s The Book Of John show has sold out. Curses.

Remembrance play of the week

In Loyal Company, Pocklington Arts Centre, Friday, 7.30pm

IN the lead-up to Remembrance Day, In Loyal Company charts the survival story of missing Second World War soldier and prisoner of war Arthur Robinson, written and performed by his great-nephew, David William Bryan.

Bryan’s account of Liverpool packer Arthur Robinson, a private in the 18th Reconnaissance Division, being declared missing after Japanese dive-bombers destroyed his ship in Singapore, received five-star Edinburgh Fringe reviews. Members of the Royal British Legion are entitled to discounted tickets, by the way.

Folk gig of the week

Brighde Chaimbeul, The Band Room, Low Mill, Farndale, Friday, 7.30pm

WINNER of the 2016 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, Gaelic-speaking Isle of Skye singer and piper Brighde Chaimbeul roots her songs in her language and culture, but also draws inspiration from Cape Breton, Eastern European and Irish piping traditions. Her concert will be built around her debut album, The Reeling, launched at Celtic Connections in Glasgow.

World music concert of the week

Making Tracks presents Rapasa Otieno, Kaviraj Singh and Louise Bichan, National Centre for Early Music, York, Friday, 7.30pm

THE newly re-launched Making Tracks returns with an ambitious new modus operandi, bringing together emerging artists from across Britain and the world to initiate new collaborations and “contribute towards a global community of socially and environmentally engaged musicians.” Making music together in York will be Rapasa Otieno, from Kenya, on nyatiti (an eight-string lyre), Leeds-raised Kaviraj Singh on santoor and Louise Bichan, from Orkney, on fiddle


BLUES legend John Mayall, 85, has called off his remaining UK/Ireland/European tour dates for “health issues”, including York Barbican on November 6.

“Though he is recovering well, the doctors are recommending that he take some time to rest and recuperate before he resumes touring,” a statement read on Facebook. “We are working on rescheduling the cancelled shows for next year.”