Feb Half Term for Grown-ups!
BEST OF THE EXHIBITIONS:
Degas to Picasso, Ashmolean, Oxford
After the success of last year’s Andy Warhol exhibition, the fabulous Ashmolean Museum in Oxford spools back to 19th century bohemian Paris where Manet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Degas and Picasso were collectively whipping up era-defining paintings and dreaming up the Modernist movement. It promises to be a doozy. And for a post-culture coffee or bite, don’t miss the chic Ashmolean Dining Rooms on the top floor, with its cute outdoor terrace for when things get a bit warmer. ashmolean.org
A Passion for Fashion – 300 Years of Style, Blenheim, from Sat 11 Feb
A fabulous new exhibition tracing the weird and the wonderful fashions that have passed through Blenheim in its 300 years of history from metre high wigs to literally drop-dead make up containing arsenic and lead! There’ll be some beautiful Dior vintage dresses from the 50s and more recent high fashion from Louboutin and milliner Stephen Jones. blenheimpalace.com
24 Pairs: The Bodleian Weston Library, Oxford, Exhibition ends Sun 19 Feb
A cleverly-curated exhibition that’s brilliant for a quick fix of culture if you haven’t got a whole day to spend at a gallery. 24 Pairs niftily selects some of the highlights of the Bod’s 12 million items and puts them in pairs that, even if they are hundreds of years apart, share a subtle influence or similar theme. bodleian.ox.ac.uk
John Piper: A Very British Artist, River and Rowing Museum, Henley
The late artist John Piper lived in Fawley, just outside Henley on Thames, so it’s fitting that the River & Rowing Museum are hosting a retrospective of his life’s work. Ranked alongside Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson as one of the greats of British modern and abstract art, Piper worked in a variety of mediums, including painting, set design, stain glass windows, textiles, tapestry and print. rrm.co.uk
David Hockney at Tate Britain, London, from Feb 9
This is one of the biggies of the year and oh so definitely worth a trip into London. From California swimming pools to Yorkshire landscapes, this exhibition draws together six centuries of work from one of THE most influential British artists of the twentieth century. Don’t miss it! tate.org.uk
BEST COMEDY & SPOKEN WORD:
The Noise Next Door: Uproar! Cornerstone Arts, Fri 10 Feb
Loads of laughs guaranteed with fab Edinburgh Fringe favourites and improv experts, The Noise Next Door. They do sell out so worth getting in there quick! cornerstone-arts.org
Ross Noble, Brain Dump, Oxford New Theatre, Fri 10 Feb
25 years in the business and Ross Noble is as fresh as ever, effortlessly freewheeling through his imagination to bring us his hilarious, and sometimes strangely twisted, observations! atgtickets.com
Hammer and Tongue, Arts at the Old Fire Station, Tues 14 Feb
One of the most established regular spoken-word spots in Oxford, bringing well-known artists and an Open Poetry Slam where eight up and coming poets get a three-minute go in front of judges and the audience. oldfirestation.org.uk
BEST LIVE MUSIC
Kate Nash, O2 Academy, Oxford, Mon 13 Feb
Platinum album-selling, BRIT award-winning, singer, songwriter, style icon and unabashed feminist Kate Nash hits Oxford as part of her UK tour.academymusicgroup.com
Janine Jansen, Sheldonian, Oxford, Thurs 16 Feb
Janine Jansen has already received the highest credit a musician is able to in the Netherlands and brings a unique energy and interpretation to her music. Performing Brahms Violin Concerto in D major & his fourth symphony. Conducted by Marios Papadopoulos. oxfordphil.com
Budapest Cafe Orchestra, Chipping Norton Theatre, Thurs 16 Feb
Jazz violin superstar Christian Garrick leads The Budapest Café Orchestra in an evening of traditional folk and gypsy-flavoured music from across the Balkans and Russia Expect classics like the theme to Schindler’s List and Andy Statman’s beautiful Flatbush Waltz as you float down the Danube. chippingnortontheatre.com
A Shakespeare Miscellany with Elizabeth Kenny on Lute, Oxford, Fri 17 Feb
Yeah alright, it’s a bit esoteric, but it’s a really unique event this one, set in the Jacqueline du Pre music building, which is tucked in the grounds of St Hilda’s College, Oxford. It’s worth arriving for the Pre-Concert Talk at 6:45pm (Prof Tiffany Stern, who’s Chair of Shakespeare and Early Modern Lit at Royal Holloway no less). The evening will be a mix of readings from Shakepeare’s plays, music and singing. jdp.st-hildas.ox.ac.uk
Paul Lewis, Piano, Sheldonian, Fri 10 Feb
One of the world’s most accomplished pianists, Paul Lewis is back at the Sheldonian on Friday playing BAch, Beethoven, Chopin and Weber venues.ox.ac.uk
Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, Oxford, Sat 18 Feb
The St Peter’s Chamber Orchestra perform Mahler’s monumental sixth and also perform the world premiere of a new work by Oxford-based composer Sebastian Black, ‘Idyll-Cortège’.venues.ox.ac.uk
Spillikin – A Love Story, Old Fire Station, Oxford, Fri 10 – Sat 11 Feb
Featuring a state-of-the-art robot as one of the cast members, Spillikin is a surprisingly poignant and touching story that leaps through the lives of a couple from 1970 to the year 2030, when The show was a sell-out hit at the Edinburgh Festival. It’s a strange love story between a old woman with alzheimers whose husband, before he dead, built a perfected robotic version of himself to take his place and give the old lady comfort and company as her mind deterioriates. There’s an after-show Q&A session & a chance to meet the company, and to get up close and personal with the state of the art robot.
Reduced Shakespeare Co: William Shakespeares’s Long Lost First Play, Chipping Norton, Sat 11 Feb
As part of the UK debut tour, the Reduced Shakespeare bring their new abridged play (90 minutes down from 37 plays and 100 hours!) to Chipping Norton, taking a look at our heritage through the eyes of three trainer-clad Americans. Sounds fun.
Written by award-winning writer and poet Owen Sheers, Pink Mist was inspired by 30 interviews with returned servicemen and tells the story of three men deployed to Afghanistan and the aftershocks of war and influences on their loved ones. First staged at Bristol Old Vic in 2015 to huge critical acclaim.
Midsummer Night’s Dream, Young Vic, Waterloo, from Thurs 16 Feb
Director Joe Hill-Gibbins and the unorthodox staging of designer Johannes Schütz bring us a fresh interpretation of Shakespeare’s dark classic.
The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden still have their spectacular Sleeping Beauty running until 14 March.
Flamenco Festival London kicks off this week, running from 15 – 16 Feb at Sadler’s Wells in London.
BEST FILMS TO SEE THIS WEEK
Lots of new (and new-ish still-out-there) releases. Check out recent Muddy feature for the Best New Films To See With Your Gal Pals.
There’s also BAFTA and Golden Globe- winning Moonlight, the story of a black man growing up in a rough Miami neighbourhood, in cinemas from Fri 17 Feb.
Finally (pass me the gin, seriously, it’s been an odyssey!) Gemma Arterton stars as Joan of Arc in Josie Rourke’s production of Bernard Shaw’s play, Saint Joan. NT Live has screenings live from The Donmar across the country on Thursday 16 Feb ntlive.nationaltheatre.org
Over and out people, have fun away from the little people.
But for those of you more thoughtful than me ahere are the more midget-oriented Feb Half Term Guides, including rainy days, outside stuff, local day trips and days out further afield.