Small Island, National Theatre

    Discover new art and secret gardens in London this weekend

    6 June 2019

    What to see

    Painting by John Wragg, RA Summer Exhibition

    For a glorious few weeks every summer, the Royal Academy draws back the curtain between artists and the public and gives a carefully selected group of hitherto unknown individuals the chance to exhibit work on the walls of one of the world’s most renowned galleries.

    Acclaimed British painter, Jock McFadyen RA has been handed the reins for this year’s Summer Exhibition. Highlights include a ‘menagerie’ in the Central Hall curated by Jock McFadyen RA, a room centred on the theme of time and space and large-scale sculptural works by Thomas Houseago in the courtyard. This is the first time that the courtyard will be dedicated to an artist that is not a Royal Academician as part of the Summer Exhibition.

    Pembridge Square, London

    To find a sanctuary in the heart of the city, make the most of London’s open gardens weekend where you can wander around the capital’s hidden paradises, usually closed to the public. Previous years’ highlights have been the garden at 10 Downing Street and the medicinal garden at the Royal College of Physicians. Visit the website to find out which gardens are opening in your borough.

    (Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)

    If it’s theatre you’re after, then be sure to catch the stage adaptation of Andrea Levy’s novel Small Island at The National Theatre. A company of 40 tells a story which journeys from Jamaica to Britain, through the Second World War to 1948 – the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury. The play centres around three stories: Hortense yearns for a new life away from rural Jamaica, Gilbert dreams of becoming a lawyer, and Queenie longs to escape her Lincolnshire roots. If you can’t get to London to see it in person then Small Island will be broadcast in cinemas by NT Live on 27 June.

    Where to eat

    Romulo’s, South Kensington

    Head to Romulo’s on South Kensington Highstreet for Filipino flavours and a healthy serving of one of Meghan Markle’s favourite dishes: chicken adobo.  Conveniently located on Kensington Highstreet, the restaurant occupies a former Georgian Townhouse. Don’t leave without sipping at the playfully named Imelda Marcos cocktail. She was the former First Lady of the Philippines,  infamous for the 3000+ pairs of shoes she left in Malacañang Palace when she and her husband fled the country. Now there’s an idea for Theresa May.

    Gloria Trattoria, Shoreditch

    If you can get a table at the Italian restaurant on everybody’s lips then scoot straight to Gloria in Shoreditch and count yourself lucky. The kitsch decor is delightfully over the top, as are the staff, yet even the most hardened foodie will struggle to dine without a smile on their face. Try the truffle croquettes or beef carpaccio for signature flavours.

    Where to drink

    Bunga Bunga, Covent Garden

    Bunga Bunga promises all the flamboyance of the Italian Riviera in the heart of Covent Garden from the 5th June, Wednesday to Saturday. Turning the venue into a summertime seaside destination, Bunga Bunga will be kitted out with all the holiday necessities – deckchairs, beach balls, swimsuits aplenty, holiday cocktails, inflatables and parasols. As has come to be expected from this Covent Garden mainstay, guests will be dazzled with live acts, including musical numbers, stand-up comedy, burlesque, acrobatics and of course a few surprises thrown in too.