THREE sisters arrive at their remote childhood home on the eve of their mother’s funeral.This is the setting for Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water, which comes to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, from Tuesday 21 May to Saturday 25 May.

Having grown apart, the siblings argue and joke as they sort through their mother’s belongings and gradually confide about the realities of their own adult lives. But it’s when they move on to childhood recollections that they discover they remember things differently, leading to a series of dramatic and devastating revelations.

Theatregoers should expect tears and laughter from a cast which includes Juliet Cowan (Cuckoo, EastEnders, Shameless), Nicholas Bailey (EastEnders) and Stewart Wright(People Like Us, Love and Marriage).

IT WON’T come as any surprise to fans of Julian Clary that he still likes to cause a bit of outrage – more than 30 years after he first started baiting audiences in the 1980s. But he says he’s a bit more choosy about his targets nowadays.

“It’s one of life’s pleasures, in my opinion,” he laughed. “It’s one of the reasons people come to see me – they want to see if I’ll go too far. It livens up their otherwise dreary lives I expect. It gets the heart rate going, much like fairground rides or watching a horror movie.”

However, Julian, who turns 60 this month, recalls that this was even more true when he started out in comedy as The Joan Collins Fan Club.

“Yes, because prejudice, ignorance and fear were rife back then,” he explained. “I felt if you talked about the mechanics of gay sex, for example, it would be shocking to them but it would demystify it. They would leave better people than when they arrived.

PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES – Julian Clary is always ready to shock his audience

“That’s changed now. Well, it’s not just me, it’s just, you know, we’ve all grown up. The world’s a better place these days.”

Instead, the Surrey-born comic says that while people may be less easily shocked in 2019, they seem to be far more easily offended.

“It’s funny… the other night I wanted to put something on Twitter. It was about the Duchess of wherever she is, the Duchess of Sussex, being pregnant. My husband said, ‘Yes, but who is the father?’ and I thought, probably years ago I could’ve put that on Twitter and we’d have all chortled. Now, I thought, ‘Well, I just can’t because it’s going to cause outrage.’

“There’s this new word ‘snowflake’, isn’t there? I would blame social media I think, where there’s people who spend all day arguing. Be very careful what you say.

“It’s different, a different sort of controversy. If it was really controversial that I was an ‘out’ gay man on television, then that’s something that I would feel more self-righteous about. Implying that the Duchess of Sussex is putting it about is probably not true at this stage of their marriage! So I can’t really feel self-righteous about that.”

Julian says there’s precious little chance of people actually being offended at his shows. He explained: “I’ve been around the block a few times and if people buy a ticket to see me, chances are they quite like me or they’ve been before. So there is a warmth and affection, but there is a sort of expectation of the boundaries being pushed a bit. So I’m happy to oblige!”

However, no one will necessarily be able to avoid his roving eye and sardonic wit.

“I wander around now, so you’re not safe anywhere,” he said. “I’ve always found people’s lives are more interesting than mine, and so I’m interested in talking to people and improvising, really.

“I did a straight play quite recently, Le Grand Mort, and it was really enjoyable, but I really had to stop myself from talking to the audience. It was in a very small theatre at Trafalgar Studios.

“I wanted to talk about someone’s hair and their handbag and the shoes they were wearing, and you just can’t apparently. I’m told that, when acting in a play, you are expected to say the same words in the same order every night. Who knew?”

So what kind of audience participation can be expected in his latest show, Born To Mince?

“Well, I’ve been reading a lot about gay aversion therapy recently, so I had this idea that we could try heterosexual aversion therapy and get some men out in the audience, wire up their genitals, and show them pictures of Coleen Nolan.

“If there’s any twinge of arousal they’ll get 40 volts through the testicles…it’s what passes for entertainment these days.”

You have been warned.

JULIAN Clary’s Born To Mince tour reaches G Live, Guildford, on Tuesday 28 May.

BEING a blind comedian is tough, but being a blind father is possibly tougher. Just ask Chris McCausland, who’s done both.

“The most challenging parts of life as a comedian for me are all the logistical ones, travelling the country to different venues and even getting to and from the stage at a show,” he explained.

“Obviously, I’ve found solutions to these aspects of the job over the years. Once these issues have been overcome the actual on-stage, stand-up part of the job is the easy bit.”

FUNNY MAN – Comedian Chris McCausland is bringing his Speaky Blinder show to Guildford

Being a dad has raised a few more issues for Chris, who lost his sight as an adult.

“As my daughter has got older and more communicative, being a blind dad has got easier in lots of ways,” he said. “But there was a really difficult period when she was a one-year old, where she was mobile but silent, crawling about on the floor hardly making a peep!

“Looking back, maybe I should have put a bell on her, or a Bluetooth tracker so that I could ask Alexa to find her!

“Now she’s five though, the toughest thing is probably things like not being able to help her properly with her reading and her writing. How many other kids in her class have already got better handwriting than their daddy?”

Chris is now a Surrey resident, having moved to the county from Liverpool in 1996 to study at Kingston University. As a northerner married to a Brazilian, he says there’s often a culture clash – especially their different reactions to temperature.

“Whereas my wife will still require a winter coat in 22-degree sunshine, I struggle to function in anything warmer than about 26,” he said. “This obviously creates a great deal of conflict when the central heating comes into question.

“I talk about this in the show, but I think there is a good chance that one of us may one day be found dead in the hallway with one arm reaching out towards the thermostat, with the other one of us having skipped the country.”

Chris’s stand-up career started at a new-act night in Balham in 2003, but within a year he had won a string of awards and come third in Channel 4’s So You Think You’re Funny competition.

He’s since made many TV appearances and is a regular on the CBeebies series Me Too! But he said his career high point has been filming Live at the Apollo for the BBC.

“Not only was it the biggest career opportunity that I’ve had, but it was also the biggest actual gig that I had done, getting to play in front of 3,500 comedy fans at the Hammersmith Apollo,” Chris recalled.

“I’ve lived near London for over 20 years and have been to see lots of my music and comedy heroes perform on that stage, and so to get to do the same was a dream come true, really.”

Chris brings his Speaky Blinder show to the Bellerby Studio at Guildford’s G Live on Thursday 16 May as part of his later UK tour.

He added: “After this tour is over, I plan to write a book about my own experiences of losing my sight, being a comedian, and becoming a dad.

“They say that everybody has got a book in them, and I reckon I must have at least two. I also plan to become Prime Minister, destroy Facebook, and form the world’s most successful rock band…”

CANADIAN comedy legend Tom Stade is back with a new show. Welcome back to I Swear To…, picking up just where he left off as an hour simply wasn’t long enough.

Canadian Tom Stade

He will attempt to figure out exactly where he fits into this emerging new world of feelings and FaceTime. He’ll be asking questions like exactly when did he, and all his stuff become vintage – and why didn’t he see it coming?

Tom has been on Channel 4’s Comedy Gala, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, The John Bishop Show and Live at the Apollo – and on Thursday 9 May he’ll be at G Live, Guildford.

A NEW work from Olivier Award-winning dancers of the Russell Maliphant Company is heading for G Live, Guildford, on Thursday 9 May.

Silent Lines will see the group working with video artist Panagiotis Tomaras in a co-production with Sadlers Wells to produce “explorations in dance and experiential anatomy using a unique mix of movement, animated video projection, and lighting”.

Russell Maliphant explains: “For this project, I’ve chosen to delve into the resource of studies and explorations I have made over the years in anatomy, biomechanics and in particular the body’s fascial system in relation to movement training and choreography.

“Allowing that to be the theme to inspire and effect the creation, Silent Lines investigates a range of poetic possibilities, using the visually rich and resonant connections between internal and external worlds, the microcosm and the macrocosm.

“Drawing on methodologies from a variety of movement disciplines and setting these within a world of animated light, this creation explores the endless web of connections we encompass and embody.”

A dual-fronted three-piece, Soeur claim to make “pop songs drenched in grunge-heavy noise, with math-rock seeping through the seams”.

However you describe it, the Bristol outfit have started getting noticed and moving in from the fringes of the UK rock scene.

Anya Pulver, Tina Maynard and former Maybeshewill drummer James Collins have already sold out bars and clubs across their native South West and now they’re heading out across the rest of the nation to promote latest track, Fight.

They will play at the Boileroom in Guildford on Thursday (7 March). Other upcoming gigs at the venue include Art Brut on Sunday (3 March), Kizzie (9 March), Rosie Lowe (10 March) and The Orb’s 30th anniversary tour across two nights (16-17 March).

IF THE thought of a Powerpoint presentation sends a shiver down your spine, think again. Comic Dave Gorman is back on the road and is bringing his laptop and projector screen with him.

The man behind TV shows like Modern Life Is Goodish, Are You Dave Gorman? and Googlewhack Adventure has a new show called With Great PowerPoint Comes Great ResponsibilityPoint and he’s bringing it to G Live, Guildford, on Wednesday 27 February.

Dave Gorman

JON RICHARDSON has been on the road for most of this year – but he’s loving it.

The comic, who made his name as a team captain on Channel 4’s panel show 8 Out Of 10 Cats, spends his time on stage pondering the everyday items that have a major effect on his outlook.

Now host of Channel 4’s topical comedy show, Stand Up For The Week, Jon (below) says TV is great but he loves touring more.

“Live comedy is such a rush,” he says. “That’s why I’m not a writer or an actor or a painter.

“There’s simply nothing like the urgency of having 500 people look at you and expect you to be funny.

“I love writing, but it’s a totally different experience. You know that on a 60-date tour, every single night will be different.

“Everyone is there in that particular moment, and it will never happen again. At every show, the room is set up differently and every person in the audience has a different barometer.

“You’re aware that any moment someone might stand up and shout ‘I completely disagree!’ That’s what’s so brilliant about stand-up!”

Jon’s reputation has been built on comedy that strikes a chord with most people.

He says: “There’s nothing better than the laughter of recognition – that sense the audience has felt the same thing.

“I learned that when I did my stuff about obsessive-compulsive behaviour. People listen to you and think, I’m not on my own.

“Nothing can beat the sight of people in the audience nudging their partners and saying, ‘You’re like that’.

“You’re not alone if you find it difficult get out of bed in the morning or if you have moments of sadness. For me, being sad proves you’re still alive. I don’t trust people who say they’re never sad – that shows an element of delusion.

“You have to accept that bad things can happen. You have to notice what’s wrong in order to fix it.”

Much of Jon’s set is devoted to contemplation of growing older and he says: “The core element of every show is about trying to be happy.

“This year I’m turning 30. It doesn’t mean a great deal to me. I’ve always felt a lot older than I am, and I’ve grown more comfortable with myself as I’ve got older.

“But the big dilemma is that I haven’t really had the 20s most people have had. I haven’t slept around or drunk as much as others. Your youth should be about making mistakes, but during my 20s I limited the risks and didn’t take too many wrong turns.

“You should hit 30 and think ‘Now’s the time to knuckle down’ but I went too early with knuckling down. Perhaps the opposite will happen now and I’ll start letting people down.”

Jon is disarmingly honest and that will shine through in the show where he will talk about a recent relationship break-up.

“If you’re discussing something on stage, you have to mean it. You can’t spend your life deliberately ordering the wrong things in restaurants just so you can get a routine out of it,” he says.

“I talk about issues such as the fear of the end of a relationship, which I hope everyone will be able to associate with. But rest assured, if it’s not funny, it doesn’t get into the show.”

Jon, who will also be discussing living with friends, adds: “If I read this interview, I might think, Is this guy a comedian or just too tight to pay for counselling?’

“But ultimately my stand-up is like house renovation. Every year I take the wreck that is my life and renovate it on stage.

“There’s an underlying pessimism to my world view, but I’m like a workman who accepts the damage and still tries to sort it out. Maybe I’ll have to start wearing a hard hat on stage.”

Jon Richardson will be at G Live, Guildford, on Tuesday, September 4.