Choose your county, choose your fun!
Feel like exploring somewhere new? Muddy tenticles cover the South of England and who better to know the cool stuff that’s hard to unearth than our brilliant regional Muddy editors (all national journalists in their own right) who are constantly scouring their counties for the best arts and cultural highlights? Whether you’re day tripping or planning for a longer stay, here are some of the treats in store for you this week.
The Vanishing Man, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Fri 10 Feb
This is my top tip for this week and for one night only, so hurry! The Vanishing Man at Norden Farm is a show about magic (rather than a magic show – thought I’d make that clear in case you’re expecting David Blaine to show up). The play is based on the true story of Hugo Cedar, an Edwardian magician – the titular Vanishing Man – who created the perfect trick by disappearing in front of his audience… forever. Check out these credentials: it’s performed by Simon Evans, who is magical consultant to the NT, Old Vic and Donmar Warehouse, and two-time winner of the Close Up Magician of the Year award, and directed by David Aula, who directed Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden as the headline show at the Vault Festival. Quick, before it disappears in a puff of smoke. Tickets £12. You can see The Vanishing Man at New Greenham Arts in Newbury on 23 Feb.
Norden Farm Maidenhead, Norden.farm
MUDDY BUCKS & OXON
Creation Theatre’s ‘1984’, The Mathematical Institute, Oxford, Sun 5 Feb – Sun 5 March
Oxford-based Creation Theatre has a new production to shout about – an adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 starting this Sunday. The big news here is that the performances take in the space-age Mathematical Institute on Woodstock Road, with the classic novel adapted using the cafe, corridors and seminar rooms as the set so it should be a really exciting production. Suitable for 12+ as it contains nudity and some disturbing scenes but you can also book what they call ‘discreet performances’ if you’re feeling prudish.
e-Luminate, Festival of Light – Fri 10th Feb
The e-Luminate Cambridge contemporary arts festival returns in 2017 with the theme of ‘Play’, taking place in multiple venues across the city, and will include for the first time an innovative conference in the Corn Exchange and Guildhalls. The event is officially switched on at 6.30pm in Market Square, but over the course of the next five days you can listen to Cambridge’s groundbreaking musical collective, We Are Sound, try wine tasting, play ‘glow’ sports (yup, netball, badminton, and basketball in the dark with neon glow lights to see who you’re whacking), a light painting workshop and even an e-sports day for dedicated gamers out there. Sounds funky.
Cambridge Corn Exchange, 2 Wheeler St, Cambridge CB2 3QB, cambridgelivetrust.co.uk
Guest Chefs and Supper Clubs
On Fri 3 Feb, The Exchange in Penzance has its first supper club of the year, with Lafafa Catering putting on an amazing Middle Eastern feast. On Sat 4 Feb, Ryan Venning of Little Gem Catering (formerly head chef of the Porthminster Beach Café) is dropping in for the night at Ben’s Cornish Kitchen to whip up a four-course dinner, inspired by his travels round the world. And on Mon 6 Feb, Emily Scott will be in the kitchen at Oliver’s as part of the restaurant’s 12Nights12Chefs charity series.
Middle Eastern Supper Club at The Exchange – email to book: firstname.lastname@example.org; Ryan Venning at Ben’s Cornish Kitchen – email to book: email@example.com; Emily Scott at Oliver’s – go online to book
Jay Raynor: The Ten (food) Commandments, Ivybridge Watermark Theatre, Fri 3 Feb
The award-winning restaurant critic and Masterchef judge has turned into a culinary Moses as he attempts to lead us to the edible promised land. Thou shalt always eat with thy hands, why thou should most definitely worship leftovers, these are the kinds of issues that you can expect to be tackled in hilarious fashion. Includes a Q&A and book signing. Tickets £15, 8pm ivybridgewatermark.co.uk
Rex Whistler: More Than Murals, Mottisfont Abbey, until 23 April
If you love 20th Century art, theatre, or interiors then this one’s for you. A new exhibition at The National Trust’s Mottisfont Abbey, reviewed here by yours truly, showcases work by Rex Whistler, the prodigiously talented illustrator, set-designer and fully paid up member of The Bright Young Things who died young. Whilst you’re there, don’t miss the Abbey’s magnificent Trompe L’Oeil Room: the artist’s neo-classical hymn to 1930’s decadence. Mottisfont Abbey, Mottisfont, Romsey.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Letchworth Broadway, Tues 7 Feb
It’s new! A concert presentation of a new musical based on the Disney Fantasia story. Before it goes to the Smoke, the very first performance is in Letchworth, the world’s first Garden City. Age 8 and above. Tickets
Re:Birth, Russell Brand, Dartford, Chatham, Margate, Canterbury, Tunbridge Wells, on sale Fri 3 Feb
“What am I going to tell my daughter about conformity and responsibility? What happens if she grows up to be like me or, worse, date someone like me?” This is just one of the questions hell-raiser and new dad Russell Brand will be addressing in his latest show. His tour dates have just been announced, locally they are: Orchard Theatre, Dartford 9 April; Central Theatre, Chatham 25 April; Margate Winter Gardens 26 April; Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury 29 May; Assembly Halls, Tunbridge Wells 20 Sept. Tickets for all the gigs go on sale at 10 am on Fri 3 Feb and they disappeared in a day last time, so if you’re a fan stand by your phone. See individual venues’ websites or the link below for details.
Top of the Terrace Motown & Soul Night, Norwich City Football Club, Norwich – Sat 4 Feb
A football pitch may seem like an odd location for disco, but this duo – hosted every two months – seems to go down a storm. Expert DJs will spin classic and rare Motown and Northern Soul vinyl until the early hours at the Top of the Terrace. There won’t be talcum powder on the floor but you can definitely expect great music and cold beer. Tickets £7 in advance, £8.50 on the door. 8pm-2am.
Tel: 07990 618293. tinyurl.com/ncfcsoul
78 Derngate, Centenary exhibition, Northampton 1 February – 29 April
78 Derngate, the only house in England designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, is set in the heart of Northampton. This county town has a rich heritage spanning 800 years and there is much to engage visitors around the town and in the wider county of Northamptonshire. Starting from 1 February is a special centenary exhibition “Charles Rennie Mackintosh & The Great War”. This major exhibition will tell the story of Mackintosh’s late career and how it was impacted by World War One. With stunning exhibits and designs from major collections. Entrance to the Visitor Centre – with shop, galleries and restaurant is free of charge.
The Miser, Theatre Royal, Bath, Weds 8-Sat 18 Feb
Passion, purse strings and some household names meet head on in this adaptation of Moliere’s famous comedy. First performed in 1688, the production is playing in Bath before transferring to the Garrick Theatre, so see it here first, folks. Griff Rhys Jones is the paranoid Harpagon the eponymous miser who wants to marry his kids to rich spouses to prevent them getting their hands on his cash, Trouble is, his daughter’s in love with penniless valet Valere (Matthew Horne), he’s fallen for a woman with no dowry – and his son feels the same way. You can see the problem. Lee Mack as Maitre Jacques is on hand to ‘help’. Help.
Mary Wondrausch: A Return to Painting – Watts Gallery – ends 19 Feb
Aside from the beautiful paintings and collages on show in this exhibition, by one of Britain’s most respected ceramicists, there’s also a particularly touching story. Mary Wondrausch worked in ceramics for more than 35 years, returning to painting in 2015 when she was 92. Sadly she died on December 26 last year, not long after she had put the finishing touches on her curation of this exhibition. It’s being shown in the Watts Contemporary Gallery, and entry is free. But if you’re hoping to snavel one of these deliciously wonderful pieces, you’re out of luck as all the artwork has sold out.
Watts Gallery and Artists’ Village, Down Lane, Compton, GU3 1DQ. Tel: 01483 810235. wattsgallery.org.uk
Saturday dinner/ Sunday roast, Rathfinny, Alfriston, Sat 4 & Sun 12 Feb + half term deal
I wrote about the gorgeous accommodation at Rathfinny Wine Estate a few weeks back and here’s a chance to try one of their meals for non-guests which come up on selected dates. There’s a Saturday dinner on 4 Feb with local fish, meats and homemade desserts, then Sunday lunch on February 12 (£20 for two courses, £27 for three). Check availability and book ahead on 01323 874 030, firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a family getaway for half term, stay two nights at the Flint Barns and dinner is on them.