MON 8 - SUN 14 OCT 2018
THEATRE: Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Wycombe Swan, Tues 9 – Sat 13 Oct
Matthew Bourne’s menacing, witty and unique production of Swan Lake has won tonnes of awards and rightly so. It’s best known for the all male corps-de-ballet – unheard of in the ballet world before – but it’s an all-round winner even if you’re not a ballet fan. I interviewed Max Westwell, the current Swan last week (check it out here), and his dedication is fascinating. I’m off to opening night so will report back asap with a review so keep your peepers peeled.
COMEDY: Mike Wilmot, Kelly Convey & Alan Carr: Work in Progress, The Stables, Milton Keynes, Tues 9 Oct
Fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Kelly Convey (So You Think You’re Funny finalist) and Mike Wilmot (Live at the Apollo regular) are hosted by Alan Carr in this under-rated venue in North Bucks.
MUSIC: La Traviata, Cenerentola and War & Peace, Welsh National Opera, Oxford New Theatre, Wed 10 – Sat 13 Oct
As a Cardiff girl myself, I’ve seen more WNO productions than I’ve worn Eisteddfod daffodils (and that’s a lot!). This world-renowned opera company is on tour spreading its passion for opera with three productions – revivals of La Traviata and La Cenerentola, Rossini’s retelling of Cinderella, plus a new production of War and Peace. Go see.
CULTURE: Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature, Film & Music, Woodstock, Thurs 11 – Sun 14 Oct
Lots of authors to choose from, with a focus on celebrating PG Woodhouse and Jane Austen, but we’re liking the sound of leading wine writer Jonathan Ray talking about his latest book called Drink More Fizz (ok, if you insist) on 100 of the world’s greatest champagnes and sparkling wines and offering some tastings. Singers from Italy will be performing Puccini and other great composers, and raconteurs Nicholas Parsons and Gyles Brandreth will be telling stories of their lives on TV and in radio. Biographer Judith Mackrell tells the stories of three extraordinary and unconventional 20th-century women who lived in The Unfinished Palazzo in Venice, and An Afternoon with Jane Austen brings to life some of the novelist’s most memorable characters with actors Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukis accompanied by regency-era music.
COMEDY: Dara O’Briain: Voice of Reason, Milton Keynes Theatre, Thurs 11 Oct
Dara O’Briain is one of our most popular comics and his new show covers such topics as his midlife hypochondria, fame and technology. His stories are so cleverly interwoven that as the show progresses the intricate structure of his show is revealed. Top-notch intelligent comedy seems on offer here so grab a ticket before it sells out.
ART: Poppy Field by Luxmuralis, Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford, Thurs 11 to Sat 13 Oct
Walk through a field of poppies as Christchurch Cathedral is bathed in light sound and music as part of the Remembrance season. Entrance is free but you need timed tickets to experience this beautiful and moving art projected onto the cathedral’s walks and floor.
SCIENCE: IF Oxford Science & Ideas Festival, various Oxford locations, Fri 12 – Mon 22 Oct
There’s all sorts of science-y and ideas stuff going on in Oxford, far too much to mention. As part of this festival, you can learn how to discover stars, build circuits, get hands-on with superconductivity or watch dance and theatre performances with science themes. Check out The Bodleians’ Frankenstein exhibition or head to the Oxford Playhouse for 8 Minutes, where you’ll be taken on a journey through the universe with dance, film and music. In the Explorazone in the Town Hall try games and activities about nuclear fusion, there’s talks about crystals (why they make chocolate taste good and how we can use them to understand our health), and you can look at MRIs of fruit and veg and try to identify them. Head to St Aldates Tavern for a spot of Spouting – a bit like 18th century karaoke with Shakespeare instead of songs or watch a performance of Hertz and get a feel for the sound of everything vibrating from the smallest atom to the largest star. The Naked Mathematician, Tom Crawford, will be at the Oxfordshire County Library where you can learn which foods we should eat to feel full, how hairy you really are and how science can make better wine. Adult boffins to baby Einsteins and everyone in between are catered for with a jam-packed programme of events to blow your mind.
MUSIC: Oxford Lieder Festival: The Grand Tour, various locations, Fri 12 – Sat 27 Oct
This festival of song is one of the leading events of its kind in the world. Singers and pianists from all over descend on Oxford for concerts, workshops, masterclasses, talks, and a bit of networking. The aim is to inspire people to appreciate the artistry of words and music coming together, with loads of educational opportunities and the pleasure of hearing new talent and world-leading songsters perform in beautiful historic surroundings. Events include a family concert in the Jacqueline du Pre building – The Empty Chair – a playful story told through singing, cello and piano and including works by Debussy; a performance of Schubert’s Winterreise by celebrated vocalists Robert Holl and Graham Johnson; the Merton College Choir singing the Eucharist; and Polish tenor Jan Petryka, singing Chopin and Paderewski in the Sheldonian Theatre.
SPORT: Maverick ions-8 Original Oxfordshire Trail Race, Sat 13 Oct
Fancy a wee jog on the weekend? Starting at Stonor Park, you can run a trail from the Thames in Southern Oxon through Bucks, Beds and Herts and back again. Easy peasy. Or you could grab a drink and snack and hang out at Stonor’s lovely gardens and Wonder Woods adventure playground. Just saying…
FOOD: Apple weekends, various locations, Sat 13 – Sun 14 Oct
Celebrating the humble apple, you can head over to Hughenden Manor’s walled garden for harvesting, tastings and apple pressing plus an artisan market of local food, drinks and gifts. Long Wittenham village is holding its annual apple day on Sat 13 Oct with pressing and family-friendly activities. And the Chiltern Open Air Museum is hosting its harvest festival weekend where you can watch a threshing machine in action, see the beautiful display of harvest produce made on the farm, do some themed arts and crafts and listen to folk music on the village green.
MUSIC: OSJ at Dorchester Abbey, Wallingford, Sat 13 Oct
The beautiful Dorchester Abbey plays host to the Orchestra of St John for an evening of Handel and Bach, including the ever popular Halleluia Chorus, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 and Zadok the Priest. Sublime.
MUSIC: Jazz at St Giles, Oxford, Sat 13 Oct
This series of concerts in aid of charity continues with the Trifarious Trio performing from their latest best selling CD, including Russian roulette, The Flying Dutchman, and Triple Riffing, with Tim Redpath on the clarinet, Rachel Calaminus on the violin and viola and Nadine Andre on the piano.
FOOD: Artisan Food Market, Waddesdon Manor, Sun 14 Oct
If you visit Waddesdon to catch the last couple of weeks of Michael Eden’s exhibition, Form & Transform, you can enjoy loads of local food and drink produce at the Artisan Food Market in the visitors’ car park on Sunday. The grounds are lovely this time of year with great walks, and the kids’ adventure playground always goes down well with little ones.
FAMILY: Natural Play, Duck Decoy, Boarstall, now until Sun 4 Nov
One of the National Trust’s more unusual venues, the Boarstall Duck Decoy was once used to trap the famous Aylesbury ducks for the tables of smart restaurants. Now it’s a lovely place for a walk and there’s a new kids’ trail in the woodland with stepping logs, fallen trees to climb and a den building area. You can take your dog on a lead and, once the refurb has finished, take a walk around Boarstall Tower (pictured) too.
ART: Future Knowledge Exhibition, Modern Art Oxford, now until Sat 28 Oct
This exhibition explores climate change through creative presentations. It’s a truly international affair with an epic timeline stretching back 750 million years by American artist Rachel Susan, Eline McGeorge’s weaving works from Norway, and Brit Tania Kovats’ vast steel and salt sculptures, to name but a few. I’m liking the sound of Lucy Kimbell’s wallpaper that changes colour over time in response to air pollutants – might save a trip to Homebase.
EARLY HALLOWEEN, various dates, various locations
If you want to get your spooky thrills before the big night, Fright Nights at Thorpe Park is open. Read Muddy Surrey’s review here. Family-friendly farm and play centre Mead Open Farm transforms itself by night into The Howl for twelve nights from 6 Oct for over 15s and adults into Halloween horror with 5 mazes, street food, live music and a bar. The Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios Great Hall is currently decorated with over 100 floating pumpkins, as seen in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with a Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Arts from now until Nov 10.
FAMILY FUN: World Conker Championships, Southwick, Northants, Sun 14 Oct
Watch the experts as they battle it out to see who is the best at playing conkers in the world! It’s a big event with a kids’ conker competition, stalls, guide dog displays, bumper cars, climbing wall, food offerings, a tea and cake tent, Morris dancers, juggling workshops, a ukuleke band and praise be, a bar.
THEATRE: The Wider Earth, The Natural History Museum, London, now until Sun 30 Dec
Exciting news – there’s a theatre now open in the Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum for the European premiere of award-winning drama The Wider Earth, a play about the young Charles Darwin. Puppets, an original score and cinematic animations make this theatrical event a great draw for kids plus they’ll learn a helluva lot in the process.
THEATRE: Shakespeare In Love, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 30 Oct – Sat 3 Nov
I loved this Oscar-winning (7 no less!) film with Gwyneth Paltrow (before she went all Goopy) and Joseph Fiennes, and the West End hit by Lee Hall is now touring our ‘hood. It’s a great Elizabethan romp and a witty homage to Shakespeare that will give you a warm glow – perfect for a cold autumn night.
KIDS THEATRE: Horrible Histories, Wycombe Swan, Bucks, Tues 6 – Sat 10 Nov
Family favourite Horrible Histories is back on tour with shows Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians, bringing us mummy-making, tomb excavations and an Armada sailing into the audience. We grabbed a quick cuppa with co-director Neal Foster about what grisly goings-on we can expect. Read all about it here.
TALK: Nigella Lawson, Oxford New Theatre, Mon 13 Nov
Chatting about her life in food, saucy Nigella Lawson is on tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of her first cook book, How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food. Nigella manages to make everyday cooking seem sexy and easy and here she talks about her love of food and what it means to be an author, cook and TV personality. Don’t miss the book signing after the performance too.
THEATRE: Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends, The Royal Albert Hall, Sat Dec 1
Tickets for Rob Lowe’s live show are bound to sell out fast (as they have in the States). Inspired by his memoirs of the same name and his previous book Love Life, Mr Lowe will spill the beans on a career from the Brat Pack to The West Wing to Parks and Rec and beyond. Apparently, he’s quite the raconteur with loads of witty anecdotes that touch on his career, fame, Hollywood, fatherhood and marriage.
ALREADY GONE THIS WEEK…
COMEDY: Iain Stirling: U Ok Hun?, Oxford Playhouse, Mon 8 Oct
The Voice of reality series Love Island, Iain Stirling is on stage with a stand-up show, discussing how he’s come to terms with attending all of the posh dinner parties with big names. He also dives into the lives of millennials – the ups, the downs and the ridiculous headlines. Take your teen if they’re in need of something ‘#relatable’.
THEATRE: One Life Stand, North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, Tues 9 Oct
Gig theatre from the Edinburgh fringe, this play by talented writer Eve Nicol, touches on modern relationships in our era of screens, tinder and internet sex. Interspersed with songs from James Frewer and Glaswegian band Honeyblood, this energetic play tells the story of what happens when a young woman leaves her phone on the night bus in a world where the phone is key.