The Urban Guide to the Countryside

The cool stuff this weekend

15 Mar 2017

Sun’s out, guns out, we’re out! There loads going on this week across the region, and, hey, you may not even need to wear your coat to get your culture fix. Enjoy…

Ran Kan Kan & Lakuta, Arts at the Old Fire Station, Sat 18 March

Broaden your musical horizons with this double-header of live world music. Ran Kan Kan are a Cuban-style big band who play mambo classics, while vivacious eight-piece Lakuta are all about Afrobeat, jazz, soul and funk; with their roots running through Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Malaysia and mainland Europe. What’s more, DJ Si will command the dancefloor with African, Caribbean and Latin cuts through until midnight. Tickets on the door cost £13 and dancing shoes are compulsory.

Arts at the Old Fire Station, George St,

Rick Astley, Oxford New Theatre, Sat 18 March

He’s never gonna make you cry or say goodbye  – in fact, ’80s favourite Rick Astley is doing a 17 date national tour this month and next. He’ll be singing old favourites and new numbers from his imminent album 50, out 10 June. (Can you believe the man is 50? Why hasn’t he aged?! I’ll have whatever night cream he’s having, please). This week Rick rolls into Oxford’s New Theatre with 40m album sales over 30 years under his belt. He’s certainly come a long way from Stock Aitken and Waterman’s tea boy.

New Theatre, George St, Oxford,


Opening Weekend at Cogges Manor Farm, Sat 18 – Sun 19 March

Cogges Manor Farm in Witney opens for the spring this weekend with a range of family-friendly activities. You can feed the animals, make your own birdhouse, do craft activities, exchange your tat at the Swap Shop,  and – our favourite bit – prop up the Cogges bar while listening to live music by local musicians. Our muddy stilettos are strictly metaphorical so we’ll be sure to take our wellies.

Cogges Manor Farm, Church Lane, Witney,


Jenny Eclair, How to be a Middle-Aged Woman (without going insane), Chipping Norton Theatre, Sat 18 March

 With a title that resonates with us just a teensy bit, Jenny Eclair’s stand-up  show arrives in Chipping Norton this weekend – although please note, this performance is a repeat of her 2015 visit. If the straight-talking comedian’s marketing blurb is anything to go by, the show itself should be a gag-fest par excellence: “Jenny is younger than Madonna but eats crisps and likes wine. Semi–bearded and suffering from outbreaks of gout and hysteria, Eclair puts middle age under the microscope. So button your cardi up properly and wipe that lipstick off your teeth.”

The Theatre, Spring St, Chipping Norton,


Goldfrapp, O2 Academy, Oxford, Mon 20 March

Alison Goldfrapp is a proper old school pop star – a bit bonkers, insanely theatrical outfits, breathtaking voice, dynamite stage presence. Hers and Will Gregory’s propulsive disco-electronica is pretty special too. They’re back with their first album in four years at the end of the month, titled Silver Eye, and here’s a chance hear them debut this new material, including infectious new single Anymore. Last time I saw them live, she stalked the stage with a horse-whip so who knows what she’ll have in store this time round.


The Adderbury Ensemble, Morning Coffee Concert, Holywell Music Rooms, Oxford, Sun 19 March

Want to know what beats being dragged to a Hadean soft play centre on Sunday morning by the kids? Well, anything, obviously but in particular the splendidly civilized combo of coffee and classical music at the Holywell Music Room’s morning coffee concerts. This week sees a performance from the North Oxon-based Adderbury Ensemble. Formed in 1986, the revolving cast of instrumentalists (most of whom are principal players with leading European orchestras) play symphonies and concertos by the likes of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms.

Holywell Music Rooms, Holywell St, Oxford,


Some People v Reginald D. Hunter, Mill Arts, Banbury, Sun 19 March

You might know the velvet-voiced Reginald D Hunter from 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown or the BBC2 series Reginald D Hunter’s Songs Of The South which documented his road trip from North Carolina to New Orleans through 150 years of US popular music. The velvet-voiced American with an eye for a brutally honest observation pops up in Banbury this weekend with a new stand-up show.

Anne Sofie von Otte, Sheldonian, Oxford, Sat 18 March

We love all things Scandi, including the excellently named Anne Sofie von Otter. The mezzo-soprano, considered one of the finest voices of her generation doncha know, is performing at the Sheldonian in Oxford. She’ll be exploring Schubert’s Lieder, comducted by Marios Papadopoulos. For glorious music in glorious surroundings, it’s hard to beat.

The Sheldonian Theatre, Broad St, Oxford,


Jack and the Beans Talk, Pegasus, Oxford, Sat 18 March

If you need to keep small children occupied for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, then head down to the Pegasus theatre in Oxford, at 2pm or 4pm, for this witty puppet show matinee, which reimagines the classic English fairytale. It promises lots of audience interaction, a huge beanstalk and a rather stinky giant, and is suitable for children aged 3+.

Pegasus, Magdalen Rd, Oxford,


Lego Batman Movie Days, now until 31 March

Got little people who are mad about the Lego Batman film and its gravelly-voiced hero? Now you can follow up the cinema trip with a themed visit to Legoland Windsor. Throughout March, they’re doing special Lego Batman days, featuring build activities, giveaways, selfie stations and scavenger hunts. Never mind Lego Batman, they’ll think you are a total superhero for taking them there – a good brownie points accumulator ahead of Mothering Sunday, we reckon.

Legoland Windsor,


Disgusting Creatures: Paper Balloon Theatre at Waddesdon Manor, Sat  18 – Sun 19 March

If your children are the kind who are forever picking up worms, they’ll enjoy Disgusting Creatures, an interactive performance by storyteller Alex Kanefsky from Paper Balloon Theatre. Appearing this weekend at the Powerhouse at Waddesdon Manor, he’ll embark on an interactive safari of creepy crawler from around the globe and answer all their insect-based questions. Just don’t forget to frisk them for slugs before you go home. Suitable for children aged 5-16.


Don Juan In Soho, Wyndham Theatre, London, Fri March 17-June 10

Photo: Helen Maybanks

Patrick Marber’s Don Juan in Soho (DJIS) is no other than David Tennant, who’s currently in ITV thriller Broadchurch after touring the galaxies as the Doctor. He’s also played Hamlet and Richard II at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon (where he’s an Associate Artist). Loosely based on Molière’s Don Juan, this modern update is set in contemporary London.  The story follows the last 36 hours of its seductive protagonist – a cruel charmer who lives only for pleasure. A comedy and a tragedy, this is the play’s West End première. Looks pretty bawdy if the rehearsal photos are anything to go by. Over 16s only.

DonJuanInSoho Box office: 0844 482 5120

Gillian Wearing & Claude Cahun, National Portrait Gallery, until MonMay 29

Self-portrait of me now in a mask by Gillian Wearing, 2011; Collection Mario Testino © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York;

Behind the Mask brings together the work of surrealist French artist Claude Cahun and Turner prize-winner Gillian Wearing. Although they were born almost 70 years apart and came from different backgrounds, both artists share a fascination with self-portraits and photography. Claude who lived in the 1930s and 40s liked putting on disguises, assuming male identities and taking self-portraits; Gillian creates portraits of herself as other people including her brother, and her ideal self, using masks.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Bucks & Oxon Edition