The cool, quirky and unmissable in Oxfordshire, Bucks and beyond this week.
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 kicks off on Friday 12 May at the circus’s home ground of Fennells Farm near Stroud for four nights, then moves to Sudeley Castle from Thursday 18 to Monday 22 May, before heading off to Oxfordshire and London, and then returning to Gloucestershire in August.
Liscious Interiors Flash Sale, Oxford, Sat 13 – Sun 14 May
Tucked away behind Farrow and Ball in Oxford’s Summertown is super fabulous, Liscious Interiors, an absolute gem of a vintage shop. From 10am sharp this Saturday, there’s a flash sale with vintage and collectible armchairs and sofas going free to a good home if they get the upholstery job, along with mirrors, chandeliers and discounted fabrics and trimmings.
Last week to catch Grayson Perry at Banbury Museum, until 13 May
Over at the Banbury Museum the last two weeks to see Julie Copes Grand Tour: The Story of a Life – a pair of large-scale striking tapestries by none-other-than Grayson Perry, winner of the 2003 Turner Prize, cross-dressing delight and national treasure. The tapestries are on show until 13 May and then they’re off on a national tour so catch them while you can.
Phil Peskett, Spin Jazz, Oxford, Thurs 11 May
Haven’t been to Oxford’s jazz club yet? Set above the Wheatsheaf Pub on the High St, a never-ending list of big name musicians come through its door. The latest of which is Phil Peskett, who studied piano at the Guildhall before becoming a fixture on the London jazz/funk scene, playing with Moloko, Natalie Williams and The Cinematic Orchestra. The shows starts at 9pm so you can go out for a civilised dinner first.
Woody Harrelson Q&A, Phoenix Picturehouse, Oxford, Sat 13 May
It’s not often a Hollywood actor drops into your local cinema, but Woody Harrelson clearly likes to do things differently. In January, the American star of Natural Born Killers directed and starred in an unprecedented live feature-film event: a comedy shot in real time in central London in a single take and broadcast live to cinemas across the world. Lost In London follows Harrelson, playing himself, as he struggles to get home to his family after a scandal threatens to ruin his marriage. It’s showing at the Phoenix Picturehouse on Saturday and Woody happens to be hanging around Jericho that night with nothing better to do than drop in for a Q&A.
Eduardo Paolozzi , Whitechapel Gallery, London, until 14 May
If you’re up in London anytime soon, be sure to catch this exhibition showcasing the work of the ‘godfather of Pop Art’ Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005). One of the most innovative and irreverent artists of the 20th century, his collages, sculptures and prints challenged artistic convention, from the 1950s through to the Swinging Sixties and advent of Cool Britannia in the 1990s.
Beverley Craven, Ugland Auditorium Stowe, Fri 12 May
Where did Beverley Craven disappear to? The BRIT Award winner gets back in the musical saddle at Stowe as part of her UK tour to promote her latest album Change of Heart though it sounds like a very grown up gig, promising a ‘witty narrative’, a running time of 100 minutes, and an interval.
History Festival, Milton Keynes Museum, Sat 13 – Sun 14 May
A live representation of 2000 years of history at Milton Keynes Museum this weekend – I know, nothing like an ambitious project! You can expect to see Roman traders demonstrating early wax tablets and selling everything from jewellery to potions, join the Vikings in battle, have a go at Medieval archery, live like a local during the War of the Roses, talk to a Tudor surgeon and watch a Civil War re-enactment group. Sounds like a lot of fun.
Milton’s Cottage Garden Open Day, Chalfont St Giles, Sun 14 May
A chance to think up your very own Paradise Lost in Milton’s back garden. Fleeing the outbreak of the Bubonic plague in London, Milton came to Chalfont St. Giles with his wife and daughters in 1665, where a house had been secured for them by Milton’s friend Thomas Ellwood who famously referred to it as ‘that pretty box in St Giles, Chalfonte.’ Milton was a keen botanist (fellow poet, Emily Dickinson, called him The Great Florist) and the garden at his cottage in Chalfont St. Giles is planted with trees, flowers and herbs referenced in his poetry. It is the only cottage garden in the Chilterns listed by English Heritage as a Grade II Registered Historic Garden.
11am – 5pm. miltonscottage.org
Kazem Hakimi: Portraits From A Chip Shop, Old Fire Station & Modern Art Oxford, from 6 May – 2 July
How cool is this? The first major exhibition of portraits by photographer Kazem Hakimi, taken in his fish and chip shop on Iffley Road. For two years, Hakimi has photographed his eclectic customers, posing them against the same white wall – the result is a beautifully rendered cultural snap-shot of Oxford.
Oxfordshire Artweeks, Across the County and central Oxford, until 29 May
Amazing art in open studios and private spaces across Oxfordshire over the next three weeks and totally freeeee! The first week focuses on exhibitions along the Thames from Faringdon to Henley and the Ridgeway from Wantage to Thame, and during the second, visit beautiful North and West Oxfordshire where venues can be found nestled from Burford and Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds across to the historic market towns of Bicester and Banbury (this image comes from Lane End Vintage in Bampton). The third week will take place in Oxford in 200 art spaces across the city.
Forgotten Faces, Christchurch Picture Gallery, Oxford, until 15 May
It’s been extended once already but this lovely exhibition, Forgotten Faces: Portraits from our Storeroom at the Christchurch Picture Gallery, ends this week. A chance to see beautiful portraits of the unknown or overlooked from centuries gone by.
Christchurch Picture Gallery, Christ Church, St Aldgates, Oxford, chch.ox.ac.uk
Wycombe Arts Festival, High Wycombe, until Sun 4 June
The Wycombe Arts Festival is a real mix of professional and amateur around High Wycombe, Marlow and the Chiltern hills. Think classical and jazz concerts, open air theatre, cultural offerings like an Open Day for the water-powered corn mill Pan Mill in High Wycombe (this Sunday), ‘Frogfest’ festival on Sun 28 May with music, roaming performers and kids activities, and a grand finale at Wycombe Swan with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Giacometti, Tate Modern, 10 May – 10 Sept
Here comes a biggie. Tate Modern presents the UK’s first major retrospective of Alberto Giacometti for 20 years. Celebrated as a sculptor, painter and draughtsman, Giacometti’s distinctive elongated figures are some of the most instantly recognisable works of modern art in Tate Modern’s ambitious and wide-ranging exhibition of over 250 works. It includes rarely seen plasters and drawings and showcases the full evolution of Giacometti’s career across five decades, from early works such as Head of a Woman [Flora Mayo] 1926 to iconic bronze sculptures such as Walking Man I 1960.
BOOK NOW FOR…
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.
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.
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.