MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
FAMILY: Oxford Christmas Light Festival, Fri 16 – Sun 18 Nov
This year’s theme for Oxford’s cultural celebration is Undiscovered Oxford. Local and international artists have created installations, illuminations and artworks and there are performances and dozens of free events. As usual school kids open the festival with a lantern parade from the Covered Market on Fri at 6.30pm to Gloucester Green. All weekend, you can check out giant sound and light sculptures at some of Oxford’s most iconic buildings, moving to different locations throughout the weekend (Hidden at the Natural History Museum on Fri; Imagine Peace inside the University Church of St Mary on Sat; Talking Maps in the Old Schools Quad on Sunday) including a huge LED cube in the Westgate with constantly changing light artworks and pop-up performances of music, dance and theatre all over town.
ART: Approaching Thunder, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, now until 13 Jan
The River & Rowing Museum are highlighting wartime art in their current exhibition of 1940s prints and drawings by leading 20th century British artists. With materials strictly rationed and a stagnant art market, the likes of Edward Bawden, John Piper and Vanessa Bell turned to paper to record their experiences of life in wartime Britain.
CULTURE: Bacterial World, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, now until 28 May 2019
OK, it might not seem the most thrilling subject but the excellent Museum of Natural History has pulled out all the stops to excite visitors about their new Bacterial World exhibition by installing a giant (92 feet long) inflatable E.coli bacterium (yum), hanging from the ceiling. The sculpture by Luke Jerram is just one of the exhibits aiming to educate people about the oldest form of life on earth. Bacteria are remarkable organisms and scientists are convinced they will help us tackle environmental problems so we really should learn to love ’em.
SHOPPING: Christmas Fair and Carnival, Waddesdon Manor, Sat 10 Nov – Wed 2 Jan
Using the amazing artworks in the Waddesdon collection for inspiration, the house and grounds are a feast for the senses this Christmas. The house is decorated beautifully, inspired by the Venetian carnival and 18th century fancy dress, and the manor is hosting its biggest Christmas fair ever with food and gifts on offer from charming wooden chalets (Sat 10 Nov – Sun 16 Dec). There’s also a light show by the Guildhall School, this year projected onto the stables, and featuring Waddesdon’s objects, gardens and architecture. Until Wed 2 Jan.
MUSIC: OSJ Proms, Ashmolean, Oxford, Tues 14 Nov & Galway Plays Mozart, Dorchester Abbey, Wallingford, Fri 30 Nov
The Orchestra of St John’s will be playing a programme of Variations at the Ashmolean Museum in gallery 21 on Tues 14 Nov. The prom covers Brahms riffing on Haydn, Beethoven’s extrapolations from Mozart’s Magic Flute rearranged for wind trio, and Reger’s musings on Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A, K. 331, conducted by John Lubbock. At the end of the month, their 50th anniversary concert will take place in Dorchester Abbey, Wallingford, and includes the eponymous flutist James Galway playing Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 2 in D major K.314. Sublime.
FOOD & DRINK: Native Feasts, Peterley Manor Farm, Great Missenden, Sat 17 Nov
Following on from the success of their vegetarian feast at Peterley Manor Farm last month, the Native Feasters have decided to do the same for meat-eaters, devising a menu based around the Tamworth pig. Chef Chris will be serving the pork in a multitude of ways from snacks on arrival to hearty mains, but thankfully promises they’ll be no pork in the pudding. There will be the usual cocktails, artisan wines and local ales to wash it all down. Pork scratching, anyone?
ART: Penny Woolcock, Fantastic Cities, Modern Art Oxford, Sat 17 Nov – Sun 3 March
I’m very excited about this super-cool new exhibition celebrating the work of contemporary artist and director, Penny Woolcock, whose work unpicks social inequality. Argentine-born but Oxford-based for many years, she’s won many awards for her diverse range of work from film, opera, documentaries and art projects. This exhibition includes three brand new moving-image commissions exploring how dramatically different peoples’ lives can be within the same city. A real thought-provoker but don’t take the kids as there’s a bit of what my mother primly calls “language”.
CULTURE: One World Festival – Sing! The Ashmolean, Oxford, Sat 17 – Sun 18 Nov
The Ashmolean is celebrating the diverse communities of Oxford with free activities, live music, talks, tours and storytelling in a weekend of faith, folk and song. Whilst you’re there, it’s worth visiting the No Offenceexhibition in its last 2 weeks, exploring the LGBTQ community’s representation throughout history.
THEATRE: National Theatre Live Screening, The Madness of King George, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Tues 20 Nov
The multi-award winning National Theatre production written by Alan Bennett will be screened live from Nottingham Playhouse and you can see it in the comfort of Aylesbury Waterside’s Second Space. Mark Gatiss (of Sherlock, Wolf Hall, NT Live Coriolanus fame) plays the most powerful man in the world (at the time) who, as his mind starts to unravel, is at the mercy of scheming politicians and a Prince of Wales waiting to snatch power.
SHOPPING: The Country Home & Interiors Show, Thurs 22 – Sun 25 Nov & Christmas at Stonor, Wed 28 Nov – Sun 9 Dec, Stonor Park, Henley
The weekend Thurs 22 – 25 Nov, Stonor is once again hosting the Country Home and Interiors Show in stylish marquees in the grounds. More than 100 sellers of crafts, lifestyle products, gifts and homewares will be tempting you with their wares, plus there will be demos from new country businesses. A great opportunity to get your Christmas list ticked off in style. From Wed 28, the historic house will be decorated with the theme Star of Wonder for the festive season. Each room will be individually designed and transformed with lights and decorations in keeping with the family antiques and portraits, and holly, larch and mistletoe will be used from the park. New for this year, you can book a candlelit tour of the house (for one night only on 28 Nov) where you can see many of the rooms by twinkling lights and candlelight.
MUSIC: Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, Sat 24 Nov
Conductor Marios Papadopoulos, soprano Heidi Stober and violinist Natalia Lomeiko play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 in G major plus there’s pre-concert recital when you can hear talented young musicians play.
THEATRE: Cilla, Wycombe Swan, Tues 27 Nov – Sat 1 Dec
The writer of the acclaimed 2014 Cilla Black TV biopic, starring Sheridan Smith, has penned this new musical production, which is garnering a lorra, lorra good reviews. It arrives in Wycombe this week with Kara Lily Hayworth, who beat thousands of others at open auditions to win the part, playing the Scouse songbird. The action all takes part in the ’60s so, fear not, there will be no dodgy recreation of the Blind Date TV set. The perfect choice for a night out with your mum or girlfriends.
COMEDY: Marcus Brigstocke, The Stables, Milton Keynes, Wed 28 Nov
Well known TV comic, Marcus Brigstocke, discusses all thing evil in his new show, Devil May Care, which has delighted the critics. He’s great at satirical comedy and apparently he’s even more funny live than on the telly where you’ll know him from Have I Got News For You, Live at the Apollo and Mock the Week to name but a few.
SHOPPING: An evening with Sophie Robinson, The Bull Hotel, Gerrards Cross, Wed 28 Nov
Design guru of DIY SOS, The Great Interior Design Challenge, This Morning and 60 Minute Makeover fame will be sharing her top tips for styling your home, in collaboration with interiors online store Layered Lounge. Their stylish and affordable products lie somewhere between trend-led high street picks and expensive designer pieces with an eclectic selection of cushions, lamps, tableware and glassware from Buckinghamshire’s best small brands. The event starts at 6.30 with a free glass of fizz, followed by a talk by Sophie from 7pm. Sophie will be staying for the shopping after her talk so feel free to ask questions as you shop.
MUSIC: All Saints, O2 Academy, Oxford, Fri 30 Nov
Back with a vengeance, All Saints’ fifth album Testament has had fans and critics in raptures. The girls are embarking on a winter tour to feature the album plus all their hits and you can catch them in Oxford for one night only.
CULTURE: Queer Encounters in the Museum, Ashmolean After Hours, Oxford, Fri 30 Nov
It’s been 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual relationships. Professor Jennifer Ingleheart (Professor of Classics at the University of Durham and author of Masculine Plural: Queer Classics, Sex, and Education) explores our reactions to the human form and sexual representations we come across in museums. How do we feel looking at Sappho from Lesbos surrounded by women, sexy statues or even to hermaphrodites represented in art?
TOP MOVIE RELEASES
Christmas is coming – so are the family films… so grab the kids and a jumbo bucket of popcorn. Dodgy green face paint is no more as Dr Seuss’ The Grinch gets a remake, released on Nov 9, in 3D computer animation. The trailer, where we get a first glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch in the starring role, already has over three million views on YouTube, no doubt a million from my kids – they’re desperate to see it. The Nutcracker will make the leap, or should I say sauté, from ballet to big screen with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. The film’s got an all-star cast of Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Richard E Grant and Morgan Freeman, released Nov 2. If you’re looking for something a little more thrilling, but still suitable for tweens, dark magic will be creeping into cinemas worldwide as the highly anticipated new Fantastic Beasts film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. is released on Nov 18. Johnny Depp will be reprising his role as the oh-so-evil, bleach blonde Grindelwald alongside good guys Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law. Last up looks like a proper feel-good festive film and comes in the form of everyone’s favourite flying lady- Mary Poppins. The film will follow on from the original with Poppins floating back in to the lives of grown up Micheal and Jane Banks. The umbrella baton has been passed to Emily Blunt who will star alongside Muddy favourites Julie Walters and Meryl Streep. Mary Poppins Returns hits cinemas just in time for Christmas on Dec 21.
Huddled by the fire? Don’t blame you – we’ll be round in five mins with a massive box of Maltesers so get the telly on. Darkly delicious political thriller House Of Cards returns to Netflix on 2 Nov with its sixth and final season, which was hastily rewritten after Kevin Spacey, who played the President, detonated his career. First Lady Claire Underwood makes a power grab – we can’t wait to see what the excellent Robin Wright does with the role now she’s going solo. Back on this side of the Atlantic, series 5 of London police drama Luther is imminent. The BBC are being cagey about the start date but they’ve just made the first four series available on iPlayer so we reckon it’ll be this month. Welcome back Idris Elba – we’re swooning at the very thought of you returning to moodily stomp around the city fighting crime in your swishy wool coat. This time Hermione Norris will be joining him, playing a psychiatrist. On a lighter note, people are going barking mad on social media about Dogs, a new Netflix documentary which drops 16 Nov. It tells six stories of unconditional love between pooch and owner, including one involving a beloved pet being trapped in a Syrian warzone. It looks like a total tear-jerker.
SCREENING: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Science Museum, London, Thurs 1 Nov – Sat 24 Nov
To celebrate 50 years of the 1968 epic, you can head to the Science Museum’s IMAX cinema to watch Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece exploring our prehistoric past and the rise of man versus machine. Oscar winning director Christopher Nolan has created a new print from the original which will look stunning on the giant IMAX screen. Then follow the museum’s Kubrick trail to discover the rich collection of objects from the history of space travel.
EVENT: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park London, Thu 22 Nov – Sun 6 Jan
Go big or go home when it comes to festive fun, London’s Winter Wonderland is huuuuge. Free to enter but once inside, prepare to sell a kidney. The costs can get out of control – particularly if you hit the glühwein a little too hard. What to expect? Winter markets, fairground rides and ice skating. Major attractions this year include the Magical Ice Kingdom Secret Forest, an immersive showcase of woodland animals and mythical creatures created from ice and snow; a Bavarian village offering an authentic Oktoberfest experience; karaoke cabins, ice sculpting workshops, the Winter Wonderland Comedy Club, immersive screenings of The Snowman and plus Peter Pan on Ice.
THEATRE: True West, Vaudeville Theatre, London, 23 Nov 2018 – 23 Feb 2019
Head to town for the West End Premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard’s ferociously funny, modern classic, True West, which opens today. Directed by Matthew Dunster, an Olivier-nominated director, playwright, actor and Associate Director at Shakespeare’s Globe, and starring Kit Harington (of Game of Thrones fame) and Johnny Flynn (Genius) as warring brothers, this sure sounds like a goodie.
CULTURE: Month of Sundays Festival, Royal Opera House, London, Sun 4 – Sun 25 Nov
The Royal Opera House is opening itself up for a month of interactive fun. They’ll be live demos from technicians and craftspeople who work on the ROH productions, you can take guided tours and learn new moves in a dance class, sing tunes from opera classics and make something crafty to take home. The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera artists will be performing in the public areas and there’s a sound installation that explores the history of the Opera House.
ART: Whistler and Nature, Compton Verney, Warks, 20 Oct – 16 Dec
Warwickshire’s Compton Verney is casting a new light on the work of the great late-Victorian master, James McNeill Whistler, in Whistler and Nature (Sat Oct 20 – Dec 16), curated in partnership with The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow. The exhibition, which includes 90 oil paintings, explores the artist’s revolutionary attitude towards the natural world.
THEATRE: Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, RST, Stratford-upon-Avon, 12 Oct – 17 Nov
Directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, this is the company’s first gender-equal production of Shakespeare’s “most testosterone-fuelled” play. Set in a futuristic dystopian Troy, it will involve close collaboration with the virtuoso percussionist, Evelyn Glennie.
ART: Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain, London, until 24 Feb
Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones was one of the most influential British talents of the 19th century and this exhibition will bring together 150 works including paintings, stained glass and tapestry in a major new retrospective. Rejecting the starched world of the Victorians, he looked to myths, legends and the Bible to create his otherworldly work. He wanted to bring beautiful design to everyone and along with his friend William Morris, pioneered the Arts and Crafts Movement.
KIDS: The Cat In The Hat, Aylesbury Waterside, Thurs 31 Jan – Sun 3 Feb 2019
Calling all Dr Suess fans! This Curve (of The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine fame) production of The Cat In The Hat will have kids wetting themselves in excitement. The classic picture book will be retold with original songs, circus skills and lots of mischief so don’t forget to pack spare undies.
THEATRE: The Girl on the Train, Milton Keynes Theatre, Wed 23- Sat 26 Jan 2019
I loved this book by Paula Hawkins and enjoyed the film (although shame it was set in the US instead of London) and now there’s a stage play. Starring Samantha Womack (Eastenders, Game On and Kingsman) critics are raving about it. Even if you already know the story of Rachel Watson and her obsession with her past life, apparently there are plenty of surprises in this gripping new play.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
MUSIC: The Feeling, O2 Academy, Oxford, Thurs 1 Nov
Celebrating 12 years since the release of their mega debut album, Twelve Stops And Home, The Feeling return to the road and will play the whole damn thing so you can dance along to much loved hits like Fill My Little World and Sewn.
THEATRE: Shakespeare In Love, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 30 Oct – Sat 3 Nov
I loved this Oscar-winning (it nabbed seven, no less!) film with Gwyneth Paltrow (before she went all annoyingly 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.
THEATRE: Opera Anywhere, The Players Theatre, Thame, Fri 2 – Sun 4 Nov
We’re loving this company of singers and performers whose aim is to make opera fun and accessible to all and to perform in unique and unusual places. This weekend they are in a more traditional space – the Thame Players Theatre – with classic Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, Patience, and HMS Pinafore.
KIDS: Harry Heape at The Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden, Sat 3 Nov
Author of the Shiny Pippin books, Harry Heape, will be reading from his book Shiny Pippin and the Broken Forest and there’ll be a Shiny animal workshop at the newly-reopened Roald Dahl Museum, as well as a host of other Dahl-inspsired things to do and see.
MUSIC: Hugh Cornwell Electric, O2 Academy Oxford, Sun 4 Nov
Singer-songwriter and guitarist for The Stranglers, Hugh Cornwell opens his set with tracks from his new solo album Monster but most of us will be waiting to hear some of his best known hits like Golden Brown, Strange Little Girl and Always the Sun that will follow.
FOOD & DRINK: Oxford Pumpkin Festival, Tues 27 Oct – Sun 4 Nov
Did you know that a whopping 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin ends up in our bins? Good Food Oxford is on the case with their Carve it, Cook it, Eat it – don’t bin it! message. The Oxford Pumpkin Festival is all about celebrating the pumpkin, encouraging less food waste and learning new skills. On Halloween, you can pop along to the Donnington Doorstep Pumpkin Party where you can carve pumpkins and enjoy lunch round the campfire in the garden. On Sat 3 Nov, you can go to the East Oxford Farmer’s Market to buy your pumpkins and get tips on eating them or head to Bonn Square for Disco Soup where rescued surplus veg and fruit will be cooked up in to a free pumpkin feast with a disco soundtrack. On Sun 4, there’s the Oxford Vegan Market, South Oxford Farmers and Community Market, and the Wolvercote Farmers Market, all selling pumpkins with cooking tips. If you can’t join in this weekend, the festival ends on Sat Nov 10 with a Pumpkin Harvest Supper at the Cuttlesloe Community Centre.
MUSIC: Caesar’s Coin Concert, New College Chapel, Oxford, Sun 4 Nov
Composer Arvo Pärt’s Tribute to Caesar with cappella choir, Vivaldi’s Concerto for 2 Cellos in G minor and JS Bach are performed by Oxford Bach Soloists in this Oxford chapel. Immerse yourself in the music in a beautiful setting.
CULTURE: James Ivory in Oxford, Tues 6 & Wed 7 Nov
Director and screenwriter James Ivory will be in Oxford as a visiting TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) professor. On Tues 6, the Curzon is screening Autobiography of a Princess which Mr Ivory directed, followed by a Q&A with the man himself. On Wed he’s in conversation at the Sheldonian discussing tales of love and history, diversity and equality. He’ll be joined by distinguished academics Richard Parkinson (Professor of Egyptology at the University and the author of A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity Across the World), Katherine Harloe (Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Reading who is currently working on an edition of the love-letter of Johann Joachim Winkelmann) and Jennifer Ingleheart (Professor of Classics at the University of Durham and author of Masculine Plural: Queer Classics, Sex, and Education).
THEATRE: Horrible Histories, Wycombe Swan, 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.
PEOPLE: Nigella Lawson, Oxford New Theatre, Mon 13 Nov
Chatting about her life in food, saucy Nige is on tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of her first cook book, How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food. She’ll be on stage with a chocolate-covered spoon which she will lick slowly and sensuously for two hours (possibly). She may also talk a bit about cooking. Don’t miss the book signing after the performance too.