MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
COMEDY: Oxfordshire Mind Comedy Gala, Oxford Playhouse, Sat 12 Jan
Nish Kumar, Ed Gamble and Felicity Ward rock up for a night of top class comedy in aid of the charity Mind. Nish and Ed are regulars on our screens and Felicity Ward is best known for her part in The Guilty Feminist podcast as well as appearing on Mock the Week and Live from the BBC. Tickets are bound to sell out so here’s the Muddy heads up to get booking now.
MUSIC: A Night at the Opera, Wycombe Swan, Wed 2 Jan
Think Classic FM meets the fat lady singing on a Wycombe street and you have A Night at the Opera by London Festival Opera (LFO). A greatest hits recital of the best of the likes of Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Bizet, Puccini, Offenbach and Gilbert & Sullivan, LFO is made up of performers from the Royal Opera, English National Opera and Glyndebourne, as well as emerging artists so it’s tra-la-laaaaverley way to ease into the New Year.
ART: Spellbound, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until Sun 6 Jan
Eeek! It’s nearly over. Showcasing the history of magic, mysticism and superstition over eight centuries, the Ashmo’s major autumn exhibition draws to a close on Sunday. It has everything from a unicorn’s horn to a human heart encased in lead so if you haven’t yet gone, it’s well worth a visit.
THEATRE: Macbeth, New Theatre Oxford, Tues 8 – Sat 12 Jan
Following its sell out in London, the National Theatre’s production of Macbeth goes on tour round the UK and lands in Oxford this month. Directed by the National’s Artistic Director Rufus Norris, and with the designer of War Horse, Rae Smith on board, this new production takes place in a post-apocalyptic anarchic world. Every possible sign of brilliance, right here.
EXHIBITION: Great War Propaganda, Abingdon Museum, Oxon, now until Thurs 31 Jan
Extended by popular demand, this collection of conscription and propaganda posters explores the social attitudes and underlying stories of the Great War period, giving us some insight into life at home and on the front line one hundred years ago.
MUSICAL: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Oxford Playhouse, Wed 9 Jan
You like to be in control? Not like that *tut*, I meant in the theatre of course. This all-singing all-dancing Oliver award-winning comedy is back in Oxford, in a show where the audience decides on how the production will unfold. Bagsy I request Jamie Dornan in his Fifty Shades outfit.
HOME: Messy Moo Decluttering Workshop, Sonning Common, Thurs 10 Jan
If you’ve been devouring Marie Kondo’s tidying revolution on Netflix, this could be for you. Messy Moo Organised Lifestyle and Lucy Cavendish Counselling will be helping you to declutter your life and mind at a workshop to set you up for a more peaceful and mindful new year. Feel cleansed, calm and damn right pleased with yourself as you ditch the stuff that you just don’t need or want. The £20 workshop includes refreshments.
COMEDY: Adam Kay – This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor, Oxford Playhouse, Thurs 10 & Fri 11 Jan
After sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016, 2017 and 2018, Adam Kay’s best selling book is now being turned into a BBC Series. His hilarious and sometimes stomach-churning observations on his time as a junior doctor are certainly causing a stir and you can catch him for yourself at the Oxford Playhouse.
MUSIC: Oxford Philharmonic, Oxford Town Hall, Mon 14 Jan & The Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, Sat 26 Jan
The incredible pianist Martha Argerich will be with the Oxford Phil on Mon 14 for a concert of Bach, Schumann and Beethoven, whilst on Sat 26 Stravinsky is the focus for a concert of piano and wind instruments accompanied by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral. Both concerts are conducted by resident conductor Marios Papadopoulos as part of the Oxford Philharmonic’s 20th anniversary season.
THEATRE: The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 15 – Sat 19 Jan
If you enjoyed The Play that goes Wrong and Mischief Movie Night, then you’ll be tickled by this hit comedy from the same team. A priceless diamond is being stored by a corrupt city bank – what could possibly go wrong? A mad-cap fast paced caper for a fun night out when you need it most in the middle of January.
EXHIBITION: Christmas Toy Box, Bucks County Museum, now until Sat 19 Jan
OMG, I had one of these Daleks! This retro toy display from the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties looks like a total blast. It includes Dr Who, Thunderbirds, string puppets, the Sony Walkman (yup, had one of those too), jack in the boxes and teddy bears. There are games to play from Giant Jenga, Brio Trains and Duplo, while your bored kids yawn wide and say rude things about you on snapchat.
MUSIC: Someone Like You – The Adele Songbook, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Sun 20 Jan
Katie Markham was hand-picked by Adele herself on The Graham Norton Show to take her music on tour accompanied by a six-piece band. All the hits are belted out, plus some of those by Adele’s musical heroes, including George Michael and The Cure.
HOME: Winter Gardening Workshop, Waterperry Gardens, Oxon, Mon 21 Jan
If your garden is looking like a sorry mess at this time of year (*looks forlornly out at the mud*) it might be time to get some tips and advice from the expert gardeners at Waterperry in this one day workshop. Expect to get your hands dirty as you become your own garden’s very own greenfingered fairy godmother. Brrrrrrring!
THEATRE: The Girl on the Train, Milton Keynes Theatre, Wed 23- Sat 26 Jan 2019
I loved this book by Paula Hawkins and thought the film was pretty good too (Emily Blunt is brilliant in everything though don’t you think?) Now there’s a stage play to complete the triumvirate. Starring Samantha Womack (Eastenders, Game On, Kingsman) critics are raving about the show, and even if you already know the story of Rachel Watson and her obsession with her past life, apparently there are plenty of surprises in the play.
CULTURE: Ashmolean After Hours, Oxford, Fri 25 Jan
A Ceilidh in the Ashmolean Museum? You have to hand it to the Ashers crew, they do try lots of quirky, inventive stuff. And so for your late January delectation, may I present a Burns Night Ceilidh in the lower ground floor cafe with a caller to guide you through the steps. Finish up with a wee dram and then reel yourself to the Greek World Gallery to see Damien Hirst’s The Severed Head of Medusa which is on display until 1 Feb.
COMEDY: Ed Gamble – Blizzard, North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, Sat 26 Jan
Ed Gamble’s show Blizzard pops up for one night only at this excellent arts centre in Summertown. This larger-than-life comedian who crops up on shows such as Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo has sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe so a night of laughs with his personal observations is pretty much guaranteed.
SCIENCE: Stargazing Oxford, Dept of Physics, Oxford University, Sat 26 Jan
Loving Astronomers from Oxford Uni will be on hand throughout this free drop-in stargazing festival to try and answer your questions. During the day, you can pop by to talk to the researchers and explore space science through interactive activities and stalls, there will be space-themed craft activities, talks, an inflatable planetarium and you can even present a space weather broadcast in front of a green screen (weather in space?). As darkness falls, you can observe the night sky through telescopes with amateur astronomy groups to lead you round the heavens.
BALLET: Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Milton Keynes Theatre, Tues 29 Jan – Sat 2 Feb
It ain’t no secret that I’m a massive Matthew Bourne fan – he’s an extraordinary talent and every ballet of his I review is incredible. I saw this menacing, witty production of Swan Lake when it first opened a few months back (read my review) and it’s the easiest ‘go go go’ suggestion of January. Even those who aren’t in love with the ballet will be riveted.
KIDS: The Cat In The Hat, Aylesbury Waterside, Thurs 31 Jan – Sun 3 Feb 2019
Oooh, I’m liking the quirky mayhem of this production. The team behind The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine return to the Aylesbury Waterside with Dr Seuss’s The Cat In The Hat. The classic picture book is retold with original songs, circus skills and some seriously groovy staging. For children 3+.
COMEDY: The Potters Arms, Amersham, Thurs 31 Jan
Live at The Apollo‘s excellent Jen Brister headlines with Dan Evans and Colin Chadwick at this unassuming pub outside Amersham that somehow continuously pulls in big names in comedy. Nothing flash about the venue, but I rather like its rough and readiness, plus you get a main meal with your ticket price.
ART: Penny Woolcock, Fantastic Cities, Modern Art Oxford, until Sun 3 March
Put this super-cool exhibition celebrating the work of contemporary artist and director, Penny Woolcock, whose work unpicks social inequality on your must-see list. Argentine-born but Oxford-based for many years, Woolcock has 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’.
The Favourite, from Tues 1 Jan
Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone star in this love-triangle / power battle that looks wonderfully bitchy. Olivia Coleman is Queen Anne, dominated by her scheming courtier Rachel Weisz. When Emma Stone appears at court she is determined to win the Queen’s favour. What ensues is a jaw-dropping power struggle, played out against the backdrop of England during the Restoration.
Mary, Queen of Scots, from Fri 18 Jan
More period queeny drama as Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I battle it out in in 1569. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as her cousin Elizabeth I. Fab costumes, extraordinary make up and good performances are promised but some critics aren’t happy about some historical inaccuracies. What, you mean Elizabeth I doesn’t marry King Eric of Sweden after all? *thud*
Serenity, from Fri 25 Jan
Interstellar co-stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway reunite for this thriller about a fishing boat captain pulled into a web of deceit when his ex-wife begs him to save her from her abusive new husband.
EXHIBITION: Stanley Spencer: Friends and Family, Stanley Spencer Gallery Cookham, Berks, until Mar 2019
MUSIC: Oxford Philharmonic Anniversary Concert, Barbican, London, Sat 12 Jan
The Orchestra is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a concert involving three world-class soloists – Maxim Vengerov, Anne-Sophie Mutter (performing Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins) and Martha Argerich performing Schumann’s piano concerto. The second half of the programme is dedicated to Beethoven’s ground-breaking Eroica Symphony.
THEATRE: When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Ourselves, the National Theatre, London, Wed 16 Jan – Sat 2 Mar
Cate Blanchett makes her debut at The National alongside Stephen Dilane in this new play by Martin Crimp, based on Samuel Richardson’s novel Pamela. It explores desire, sexual violence and the complicated roles men and women play – blimey!. There’s also a series of talks with members of the production and the playwright throughout the play’s run though Cate isn’t on the menu I’m afraid.
ART: London Art Fair, Islington, London, Wed 16 – Sun 20 Jan
Calling modern art lovers! Get ye over to Islington for this massive art fair offering everything from prints and editions through to major works by internationally renowned artists. There are talks, tours, screenings and curated spaces, plus Photo50, the annual exhibition of contemporary photography and Art Projects, featuring large-scale installations, solo shows and group displays.
CULTURE: Tate Late, Tate Modern, London, Fri 25 Jan
More art, you cultured lot, in this monthly open evening at Tate Modern that includes music, workshops, talks and more as you wander the galleries after hours. This Friday Bridget Minamore, poet, critic, essayist and journalist, will be reading from her debut pamphlet Titanic, which explores love, loss and the struggles we all face in relationships.
THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, The Old Vic, London, until 19 Jan
The smash hit of Dickens’ classic adapted by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and directed by Matthew Warchus returns to the Old Vic and this time Stephen Tompkinson stars as Ebenezer Scrooge. This big-hearted and warm production’s unique staging immerses the audience in the story and there’s music and mince pies if you’re still feeling festive.
KIDS: Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Watford, until Sun 27 Jan
Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas! The festive makeover sees Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors can touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.
MUSIC: Chiltern Arts Festival, various locations, Sat 9 – Sat 16 Feb
World class musicians are descending on various venues in Bucks and Herts with a series of concerts to delight music lovers. The programme includes renowned pianist Steven Osborne playing Prokofiev, Debussy and Schubert, celebrated baritone Roderick Williams in a performance of Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook, and an opening programme by the City of London Sinfonia inspired by the orchestra’s London series, entitled Bach and the Cosmos.
THEATRE: All About Eve, Noel Coward Theatre, London, Sat 2 Feb – Sat 11 May
Not the recent fabulous tv series but a play based on the award-winning 1950s film starring Bette Davis as Margo Channing, a Broadway star, and her young fan, Eve Harrington, who inveigles her way into her life. With Gillian Anderson and Lilly James in the starring roles, director Ivo van Hove at the helm, and with the themes of celebrity and youth at its core, this looks like a dead cert for success.
ART: Jeff Koons, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Thurs 7 Feb – Sun 9 Jun
Behemoth of the contemporary art world, Jeff Koons is curating his own exhibition in collaboration with Norman Rosenthal. Spanning Koons’ entire career and showcasing seventeen works, most of which have never been shown in the UK before, the show will include his popular series Equilibrium, Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and his recent Gazing Ball sculptures and paintings.
EXHIBITION: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Sat 2 Feb
This is going to be maaassive! The V&A is showing the largest House of Dior exhibition ever staged in the UK, tracing the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him. The exhibition is based on the major exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve, organised by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, and there will be a new section exploring Dior’s fascination with British culture. A highlight will be the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, on loan from the Museum of London.