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41 fabulous things to do locally this Feb

You made it through January! Your reward? A jam-packed February of standout theatre, breakthrough art, huge comedy tours, and much much more. It's a good job the days are getting longer...

MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH

THEATRE: RICE, The North Wall, Oxford, 18-19 Feb

Have your finger on the pulse of up-and-coming theatre by catching RICE at the North Wall, Oxford, on 18-19 Feb. The European premiere of an award-winning play by Asian-Australian writer Michele Lee, this is a thought-provoking and funny story about a young hotshot executive of Indian descent, and the bond she forms with the older Chinese migrant who cleans her office. It’s smart, timely, and entirely evocative.

WATCH

So many goodies on the stage and screen this Feb! Starting you off is the Milton Keynes Theatre with Dreamgirls, playing until 5 Feb.

Then it’s time to get your point shoes on, folks: the Russian State Ballet is coming to the New Theatre Oxford from 10-12 Feb, with performances of Snow Maiden, Romeo and Juliet, and Swan Lake. We’re talking passion, tragic romance, captivation, betrayal…and astonishing calf muscles. Can’t wait.

Also 10 Feb at the North Wall, Oxford, is the darkly comic Popelei: PUSH, a one-woman show about a woman staring down the barrel of motherhood. Been there! Though, admittedly, it didn’t prompt me to write an acclaimed show…

Then, on 12 Feb there’s a very different female narrative with the iconic opera Carmen on show at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Can’t make it? You can also see it at the Wycombe Swan on 16 Feb.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day on 14 Feb, you can catch a screening of the Royal Opera House’s ballet classic Romeo and Juliet at Aylesbury Waterside Second Space. Be sure to pack extra tissues! You can also catch it at the Chipping Norton Theatre on 20 Feb.

Then, on 17 Feb, there’s a screening of the National Theatre’s The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage, adapted from the Philip Pullman novel set before the story of His Dark Materials, at the MK Gallery.

On 19 Feb, we’re excited to catch Here’s What She Said to Me at the Old Fire Station in Oxford. Produced by Utopia Theatre, a theatre company that explores Africa’s rich theatrical heritage, the show features a three-woman cast and makes use of music, poetry and movement in its story of a Nigerian family down the decades. There are some particularly rave reviews.

Last but by no means least, up at the Milton Keynes Theatre, the Jersey Boys will be crooning about late December, back in ’63 from 23 Feb – 5 March. See you there.

ADMIRE

You can take your pick of amazing art and exhibitions across Bucks and Oxon this month. First up, Waddesdon Manor has a bright winter pick-me-up on until 27 Feb in the form of its exhibition Illumination: Works by Leo Villareal. An American light artist, Leo Villareal has recently completed the longest public art commission in the world by lighting the nine central London bridges across the Thames. This exhibit celebrates his project, and displays other great works by him.

Meanwhile, from 1-12 Feb, the North Wall in Oxford has a pop-up exhibition entitled Twist, that displays a collection of talented British artists and their works, all available for purchase.

At the Oxford Museum of Natural History, there’s a brand new exhibition on Biodiversity, running 3 Feb – 15 May. This explores the diverse systems of the UK’s wildlife, combining the celebrated art of Kurt Jackson with reflections from Oxford University researchers. There are also accompanying workshops to go with the exhibition, including a talk on the energy of forests on 22 Feb and family events looking at oceans and bugs, respectively, on 14 and 21 Feb.

Also in Oxford, we’re eager for the Ashmolean‘s exhibition on Pisarro: Father of Impressionism, running from 18 Feb – 12 June. This will honour Camille Pisarro, early impressionist and one of the most celebrated artists of nineteenth-century France, credited as influencing both Monet and Cézanne.

Meanwhile at the Banbury Museum, there’s a hands-on educational display entitled Your Amazing Brain: A User’s Guide, that’s available from 12 Feb – 5 June. A close collaboration with the University of Oxford’s Wellcome Trust, this offers diverting activities and illusions for all ages, and explores the way we perceive our surroundings.

For something more arty, you won’t want to miss the new Modern Art Oxford online exhibition branch, available 10 Feb – 13 March. Before you lose interest at the word ‘online’ (we see you!), this is shaping up to be really something: combining game design, interactive storytelling, speculative fiction, and citizen science, branch will experiment with the future in a properly cool and engaging way.

If that’s not enough for you, there’s the exhibition Embodyment at the Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Oxford, which introduces the work of the highly expressive artist Rebecca Swainston, and her exploration of the human form. This runs until 26 Feb.

Over at Blenheim Palace, there’s a display (created in partnership with the Zuleika Gallery) on Weavescapes, running until 31 March. This presents several different series of woven artworks by Oxford-based artist Julia Engelhardt, and explores the painterly and sculptural qualities of yarns and fibres.

You can also still catch Laura Knight: A Panoramic View at the MK Gallery, celebrating one of the most popular English artists of the twentieth century, until 20 Feb.

LISTEN

If you don’t want to haul out to a bricks and mortar theatre this month, The Creation Theatre have an at-home audio drama package entitled Homeward Bound available to buy for £5. Following a family’s attempts to scatter their father’s ashes, it’s a heart-warming story accompanied by beautifully illustrated postcards.

As for music in this fine month, lovers of classical won’t want to miss the celebration of string quartets on 11 Feb at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building in Oxford. While we’re chatting classical, on 23 Feb you can catch a medley of European Baroque music at Keble College Chapel in Oxford.

Then, jazz lovers will want to see this performance of traditional jazz in a gospel concert setting, as BBC Radio 3’s Alyn Shipton celebrates the great New Orleans clarinettist George Lewis. This takes place on 18 Feb at St John the Evangelist Church, Oxford.

Not your scene? Try this one for size: Bastille is performing on 15 Feb at the O2 Academy Oxford, and while we’re there you can also catch the chart-topping Tom Odell on 22 Feb.

LAUGH

Honestly, is there any better time to go to a comedy show than in the depths of freezing February? Shows worth booking yourself into this month start with a night of musical jokes with Welsh songbird and Gavin and Stacey favourite Rob Brydon at the New Theatre Oxford on 1 Feb.

Then Katherine Ryan (mega comedy star and presenter of BBC2’s All That Glitters — anyone else’s comfort watch?) is performing on 4 Feb at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre and then New Theatre Oxford on 5 Feb. Here’s hoping for a glittering set…

Want more big names? TV star Michael McIntyre will be trying out new material on 7-8 Feb at the Oxford Playhouse; the magnificently-maned Ross Noble stands up on 9 Feb at the New Theatre Oxford; and panel-show favourite Ahir Shah can be caught at the Wycombe Swan on 18 Feb.

There’s also generally a great line-up of smaller comedy nights at The Potters Arms in Amersham – it’s a brilliant local pub that’s a major player on the A-Lister comedy scene, so always worth checking if you’re nearby. Upcoming at the moment is Andy Askins on 24 Feb.

KIDS & FAMILY

Between 3-28 Feb, visitors young and old will be delighted by the interactive gallery on The Wind in the Willows at The River & Rowing Museum, Henley. Tea in a caravan, escaping from prison as a washer woman, ousting weasels from Toad Hall…now that’s a day out.

Then spring is slowly springing, folks! See it in all its early glory at one of the Snowdrop Open Days at Thenford Aboretum, near Banbury, taking place 9, 19, and 22 Feb.

And on 12 and 13 Feb, little ones will be absolutely steaming delighted by the appearance of CBeebies superstar Justin Fletcher, who is bringing Justin Live: The Big Tour to the Wycombe Swan. Expect an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza.

Once half term hits, you’ll want to head over to Waddesdon Manor for its sanity-saving half term activities, running 19-27 Feb. These include an outdoor animal trail, a sensory walk, and woodland playground.

Need more inspo? Check out our 2022 Local Culture Guide, and see what’s on in London here.

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