Lennon’s Love Ladder, Macy Gray: London Weekend

Princess Diana Sofa
A sofa that was once in Princess Diana's childhood home at Althorp, England. It is being sold by the 18th-century English furniture specialist Apter-Fredericks at the Masterpiece London fair ending July 4. Source: Apter-Fredericks/Focus PR via Bloomberg

Macy Gray and Linton Kwesi Johnson are the opening acts in a weekend-long celebration of African music and culture.

R&B star Gray performs songs from her new CD “Covered,” while Johnson reprises dub poetry such as “Making History” in the Back2Black festival, imported from Rio de Janeiro.

Hosted by former Brazilian Culture Minister Gilberto Gil, the jamboree also features Roots Manuva and Hugh Masekela on Saturday and Amadou & Mariam on Sunday.

Old Billingsgate, EC3R 6DX. Information: +44-20-7638-8891 or http://www.barbican.org.uk/music/event-detail.asp?ID=13328

Iberica, close to Billingsgate, is known for the quality of its contemporary Spanish cuisine. It’s fine for a meal, or just some tapas and a glass of wine. There’s also a delicatessen. Information: http://bit.ly/LMGKN6 or +44-20-7636-8650.

Also on Friday, Van Morrison brings his increasingly gruff fusion of blues and folk to Hammersmith Apollo. He’s part of the Blues Fest, which also features Nick Lowe and Southside Johnny.

Information: http://www.bluesfest.co.uk, +44-844-844-0444.


The step ladder that is said to have sparked John Lennon’s love for Yoko Ono is on temporary display in Hyde Park.

It’s in the Serpentine Gallery’s well-curated show of Ono works, past and present. On this evidence, the conceptual artist was at her best some four decades ago. Her videos -- of a fly exploring a nude woman, of dozens of naked bottoms -- look very up-to-date. Framed texts recalling the men in her life, including her abortion doctor, seem forebodings of Tracey Emin’s subsequent oeuvre.

You can interact with the peacenik artist in a myriad ways: smile on camera for an ongoing slide show, hang a wish on a tree, play on an outdoor chessboard with all-white pegs (i.e. no winners or losers). You can also tiptoe, in bare feet, through a Perspex maze. Tread carefully or you’ll bang into the see-through walls -- as I did, to the guard’s amusement.

“Yoko Ono: To the Light” ends Sept. 9. Information: http://www.serpentinegallery.org. or +44-20-7402-6075.

Saturday Night

A drag queen gets jilted, changes partners, and hones his parenting skills.

“Torch Song Trilogy,” the three-part 1981 play by Harvey Fierstein, is getting a deft revival at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Talented David Bedella -- from “Jerry Springer: The Opera” -- plays over-the-top Arnold: sequin-clad drag queen by night, love-starved guy by day, with a bisexual boyfriend who can’t quite step out of the closet.

Though “Torch Song Trilogy” sometimes feels dated, director Douglas Hodge and designer Soutra Gilmour deploy some bold stage gimmicks. Windows double as dressing-room mirrors, or as peepholes into a gay-bar backroom. Part II is set in a giant bed, with the four actors emerging -- in different combinations -- from under a giant duvet.

Sara Kestelman is fabulous as the domineering mother. Through Aug. 12 at the cozy Menier Chocolate Factory, Southwark Street, London SE1 1RU: http://www.menierchocolatefactory.com or +44-20-7378-1713.

The Menier Chocolate Factory is near Borough Market, where you can take your pick of good things to eat. One of the best dining places is Wright Brothers, an unfussy establishment serving some of the finest oysters and seafood in London. Information: http://bit.ly/MWAotF or +44-20-7403-9554.


Any interest in owning Princess Diana’s childhood sofa?

The settee was once at her family residence in Althorp and is now on sale at Masterpiece London, the luxury art and antiques fair.

The price is 550,000 pounds ($855,000) from Apter-Fredericks, specialists in 18th- and 19th-century antique furniture.

The fair, which runs through July 4, is on the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London SW3 4SR. Information: http://www.masterpiecefair.com.

Since her death in 2009, choreographer Pina Bausch has become even more of a global superstar, thanks to Wim Wenders’s 3-D documentary “Pina” released last year.

You can try for tickets to two of her city-specific shows this weekend, part of the monthlong Bausch festival: “Palermo Palermo” at Sadler’s Wells on Sunday, and “Agua” (inspired by Sao Paulo) at the Barbican Centre on Friday.

Information: http://www.sadlerswells.com/show/Pina-Bausch-World-Cities-2012.

Muse highlights include Scott Reyburn on art market, Robert Heller on rock music, Jason Harper on cars and Rich Jaroslovsky on technology.

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