MON 15 - SUN 22 MAY 2017
My guide to the cool, brilliant and totally unmissable in Bucks & Oxon this week.
Live Friday, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Fri 18 May
Party like it’s the 1600s! Mr Elias Ashmole, founder of the Ashmolean museum, would be 400 years old this year, so this Live Friday includes a parade of Civil War Cavaliers and Courtesans led by King Charles I on horseback at 6.30pm, from Broad Street to the Ashmolean steps. Finally, a chance to dig out my Jacobean ruff and wig… Live Fridays are free (well, apart from the new introduction of the £1 booking fee) and offer multimedia delights amongst the antiquities. For ‘Happy 400th Birthday Mr Ashmole!’ expect period dancing, music, quizzes and a prize for the best dressed.
7pm – 10.3opm. ashmolean.org
Future Knowledge, Modern Art Oxford, Sat 20 May – Sat 25 June
A five week exhibition that turns the brilliant Modern Art Oxford into a public studio, with artists from different disciplines presenting artworks, projects and events that take ‘Oxford’ as its starting point.
So it includes Kazem Hakimi’s photographs of customers to his East Oxford fish and chip shop; Gustav Metzger’s invitation for visitors to select and out articls to contribute to a growing news item collage; and Playback, a series of 150 short films made by young artist filmmakers. The breadth of the art on display mean you won’t love everything but I bet it’ll be more hit than miss.
Sister Act, New Theatre Oxford, Mon 15 – Sat 20 May
Alexandra Burke has a whole new career as a musical star – having nailed the lead role in The Bodyguard musical for three years (I saw it in Oxford in 2016) she’s taking on Sister Act, another classic film-turned-musical with Burke taking on the Whoopi Goldberg’s comedy shoes as Sister Dolores. Directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, it should be a corker.
Enchanted Museum, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Sat 20 May
A special late opening for this charming open air museum in Chalfont St Giles, as part of the national after-dark experience ‘Museums at Night’. Families can spend the evening exploring the Museum’s historic local buildings lit up by candle, lantern and firelight, and walk through the woods trying their hands at fairytale crafts and activities. There’s a BBQ on the Village Green, beer, cider and Pimm’s for the over 12s (no, not really just checking you’re still concentrating), and kids can take part in Knight’s School (age 5-12), make candles, toast marshmallows and watch a princess ride a unicorn. As you do.
Oxfordshire Artweeks, Across the County and central Oxford, until 29 May
Amazing art in open studios and private spaces across Oxfordshire with two weeks left to go and totally freeeee! This week the focus is from Burford and Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds across to Bicester and Banbury. The third week will take place in Oxford in 200 art spaces across the city – this painting is by Kamal Koria exhibiting at The Jam Fam Factory, Oxford until the end of the month.
Babylon Plants and Flowers Open Day (plus Afternoon Tea and Mozart!) Sat 20 May
Usually just open to the trade, the brilliant Babylon Plants and Flowers is opening its doors to the general public for the day as part of the Chelsea Fringe. Plants will be for sale followed by a tea time music concert at 4.30 pm, where the award-winning Carmilla Ensemble will be playing a programme of summery music composed by blokes called Mozart and Beethoven. Entry to the Plant Open Day is free, tickets to concert cost £10 and includes a free drink. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to buy tickets.
Gangsta Granny, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Thurs 18 – Sat 21 May
A colourful production of the well-loved David Walliams’ tale of a seemingly boring, cabbage farting granny with a secret jewel thieving past. The world premier from the acclaimed producers of Horrible Histories.
Scraps of Laughter, Christchurch Picture Gallery, Oxford, 18 May – 20 Aug
The beautiful Christchurch Picture Gallery remains one of the most under-the-radar exhibition spaces in Oxford. Along with its permanent collection of old masters, it’s currently showing this fascinating ‘scrap’ exhibition giving a glimpse into the beginning of caricature and satire in Italy and how it was taken up and thrived in Britain.
Christchurch Picture Gallery, Christ Church, St Aldgates, Oxford, chch.ox.ac.uk
Giffords Circus, throughout Glos & Oxfordshire, Fri 12 May to Sun 24 Sept
The once quirky and small Gifford’s Circus has become big business, but it still retains its sense of creativity and theatrical pizzazz. This year they promise to recreate a 17th-century Spanish court with the usual accoutrements of gymnastics, dancing horses, a live band and the now-famous-in-his-own-right Tweedy the clown. It started last week, and moves to Sudeley Castle from this Thurs 18 to Monday 22 May, before heading off to Oxfordshire and London, and then returning to Gloucestershire in August.
On the Town, Regents Park Open Air Theatre, 19 May – 1 July
Strictly finalist hottie Danny Mac dances his way into a new musicals career, starring in the classic Gene Kelly/Frank Sinatra classic On The Town at the acclaimed Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Directed and choreographed by Olivier Award-winner Drew McOnie with a score by Leonard Bernstein, Regent’s Park is a 10 minute stroll from the train at Marylebone. What more do you want, good weather while you’re watching it?!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, New Theatre, Oxford, Mon 22 – Sat 27 May
The National Theatre’s internationally acclaimed production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time comes to Oxford’s New Theatre. Winner of seven 2013 Olivier Awards and five 2015 Tony Awards, including ‘Best Play’ it’s at the top of my must-see theatre lists (I should know, I’ve seen it 3 times already!). Christopher, 15 years old, with Asperger’s, has an extraordinary brain – exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under the suspicion of killing Mrs Shears’ dog, it takes him on a journey that upturns his world. Brilliant.
Great Antique Vintage Car Boot Fair, Stonor Park, Sun 28 May
Looking for a vintage find? This upmarket car boot fair was a massive hit last year and it’s back in the gorgeous surrounds of Stonor Park this month. You can celeb spot – last year Russell Brand, Pete Doherty and Mary Berry were all on the rummage for a bargain – and you can make a day of it with food from Matthews Kitchen (ex Rick Stein chef) and the Wonder Woods play area. A day’s fun right there.
Half Term Longridge Activity Days, 30 & 31 May
Just outside Marlow and a brilliant way for your kids to try different sports (and get them out of the way for the day). Activities vary daily but could include climbing wall, outdoor go-karting, water orbing and laser tag. An activity day starts at 8.30am and either finishes at 4pm and costs £40 for 4 activities or 5.30pm and costs £50 for 5 activities.
David Hockney, Tate Britain, until 29 May
If you still haven’t managed to catch this exhibition then chop chop, there’s only two weeks to go – eeeeek. This exhibition gathers together an extensive selection of Hockney’s most famous works celebrating painting, drawing, print, photography and video across six decades, some of which have never been seen before in public. The exhibition has caught the imagination of both the critics and the public and is pretty much required viewing.