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This week

Mon 28 Jan - Sun 3 Feb 2019


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.


SHOPPING: Celebrating China pop-up boutique, Bicester Village, Tues 29 Jan –  Sun 17 Feb

Curated by fashion influencer Susie Bubble, this pop-up boutique of ten cutting-edge Chinese designers is opening to celebrate Chinese New Year. It includes rising stars Ryan Lo, Mukzin and I Am Chen and with Chinese designers starting to make their mark on catwalks around the world it’s definitely worth checking out what they have to offer.


THEATRE: Enron, Oxford Playhouse, Wed 30 Jan – Sat 2 Feb

Lucy Prebble’s critically acclaimed play is performed by Oxford University students as the frenzied traders, joined by velociraptors and even Arnold Schwarzenegger, in this true story of one of the greatest financial scandals of recent times. You would think the subject matter could be rather dry but the writing is fast-paced, witty and deals with themes still very poignant today. The fall from grace is a spectacle to behold and the political satire is certainly an important case study for today.


MUSIC: Sounds of the Sirens, The Stables, Milton Keynes, Thurs 31 Jan

This female funk duo are making quite a name for themselves and got to perform with U2 and Take That on TFI Friday last year. Appearing at The Stables, their warm lyrical acoustic pop sounds like a lovely way to slide into the weekend.


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.


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+.


EXHIBITION: Great War Propaganda, Abingdon Museum, until Thurs 31 Jan

Extended by popular demand, it’s your last chance to see this collection of conscription and propaganda posters exploring 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.


ART: Alison McWhirter, Carina Haslam Art, Great Missenden, until Thurs 7 Feb

Muddy Award winning gallery Carina Hallam Art is exhibiting the talented Alison McWhirter whose bright studies of flowers are so popular with collectors. Her fabulous use of colour is bound to cheer you up on a cold January day in this solo show.


EXHIBITION: Robotazia, Milton Keynes Library, until Thurs 31 Jan

This free small exhibition of robots built by robot enthusiasts includes The Iron Giant, a Star Wars droid, Transformers and a robot constructed from old make-up compacts but the most fun is Amy, the robot waitress. Head to the cafe area and Amy will serve you drinks at your table. Your kids will love it but hurry, it ends this week.


MUSIC: MASH Marathon, Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, Oxford, Fri 1 Feb

This annual music festival concert is a hot bed of creativity. Immerse yourself in experimental music, live electronics, contemporary classical instrumental music and video. Works by Michael Zev Gordon, Jonathan Packham, Nicholas Moroz and Ensemble Isis will be performed if those names ring any bells. Go on, be adventurous, you know you want to.


SUPPER CLUB: Sneaky Supper Club, Isis Farmhouse, Oxford, Fri 1 Feb

We love a supper club at Muddy and the Sneaky Supper Club’s Doombuster event at the charming and rustic Isis Farmhouse looks rather spesh. The menu includes Jerusalem artichoke soup, pork and ricotta ravioli, seared mackerel, duck with a port sauce and a pear meringue tart to finish. They’re happy to accommodate any dietary foibles if you let them know in advance.


EXHIBITION: An Earthly Paradise: William Morris & the Thames, River & Rowing Museum, Fri 1 Feb – Sun 14 July

This exhibition’s focus is on how the Thames and its tributaries influenced William Morris’ work. He had a rural retreat in Oxon and enjoyed angling and boating and the influence of the river can been seen in his textiles and designs. Pieces have been collated from the V&A, The William Morris Gallery and the British Library to make this exhibition possible and it also delves into Morris personal life and his politics so you get a sense of the man as well as his iconic work.


MUSIC: Tenebrae & the Academy of Ancient Music, Oxford Town Hall, Fri 1 Feb

Bach’s B Minor Mass is performed by one of the world’s leading choirs and period instrument ensembles, conducted by Nigel Short. Both the Tenebrae choir and the Academy of Ancient Music have won numerous awards and accolades and Bach’s masterpiece is considered by some to be one of the greatest musical works of all time. Not to be missed, classical music fans!


COMEDY: Suzi Ruffell, Nocturnal, The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, Fri 1 Feb

Well-known on the comedy circuit and for cropping up on shows such as Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo, Suzi Ruffell’s show has had critics raving. Confident, energetic and described as a female Lee Evans, her show is all about anxiety (arguing that the world is so messed up you’d be a fool not to be anxious) with a good dollop of sexual politics thrown in. Sounds like a blast.


DANCE: Spanish Night, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Sat 2 Feb

Dream of sunnier climes with Cornerstone’s popular Spanish Night. Flamenco Express are apparently the Flamenco company in the UK, flying in top artists for each show from Spain. Dancers La Joaquina from Madrid and gypsy singer, Juan Jose Suarez from Extremadura, are joined by guitarist Chris Clavo for what promises to be an authentic and rousing show. Get swigging the sangria and you can pretend you’re on your hols.


EXHIBITION: Glorious Glass, Bucks County Museum, Sat 2 Feb – Sat 23 Mar

Showcasing the works of 39 artists from across our region, this exhibition culminates in the Contemporary Glass Makers Fair on Mar 23. Learn about the different techniques used to create beautiful glass objects and works of art or attend a workshop and have a go yourself. Also on at the Museum until 27 Apr, Hands-on Victorians let’s you discover what life was like during Queen Victoria’s reign with lots of things to touch, see and do.


KIDS: Swan Lake Workshop, Milton Keynes Theatre, Bucks, Sat 2 Feb

This sounds like a must-do for any aspiring ballet dancer aged 9 – 12 in your midst – a dance based workshop involving creative exercises and games drawing on the themes of Matthew Bourne’s acclaimed production. Renowned for shocking the ballet world with his all male corps de ballet, Bourne’s Swan Lake has delighted audiences around the world. And if you have any boys in your family claiming that ballet is only for girls, this will certainly put them straight.


FAMILIES: Charge The Castle, Windsor Castle, from Sat 2 Feb

black white chess board knights












Chaaaaaarge! Windsor Castle its under siege and it’s up to your mini knights to fight them off pronto. Don’t worry they’ll have all the gear – armour and weapons – and a bit of an idea (did someone say risk assessment?), leaving you time to wander off and swoon over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Wedding exhibition. It’s only on until 17 Feb. Charge The Castle is on every Saturday in Feb, and every day over half term.


MUSIC: Cantatas for New Year, New College Chapel, Oxford, Sun 3 Feb

Bach’s Cantatas Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn (Step upon the path of faith), BWV 152, Mein Gott, wie lang, ach lange? (My God, how long, ah, how long?), BWV 155 and Die Zeit, die Tag und Jahre macht (Time, which day and year doth make), BWV 134a are performed on recorders, violas, oboes and bassoons in the beautiful setting of New College Chapel. Under 18s go free so drag them off their devices and get some culture into their weekend.


WALK: Winter Walks, Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, every weekend until Sun 24 Mar

Blast away the cobwebs with a winter walk around the stunning grounds of Waddesdon with new adventure backpacks and sensory maps on offer to make the most of your walk, exploring new areas you might not have seen before. There are five mapped walks (you can bring your dog along) to enjoy the emerging signs of spring, then warm up with a hot drink and a snack at The Stables or one of the onsite kiosks.


KIDS: Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Sun 3 Feb

The live show based on David McKee’s book (which celebrates 30 years in 2019) comes to the Cornerstone. Telling the tale of the elephant who stands out with 21 puppets and a lesson to always be yourself, kids will love this colourful, funny show that celebrates individuality and friendship.


EXHIBITION: Sappho to Suffrage, Bodleian Library, until Sun 24 Feb

If you haven’t been to this exhibition showcasing some of the Bodleian’s most remarkable and treasured items, get on down there as it finishes next month. From pirates to poets from suffragettes to explorers it celebrates women who dared to be different and not do what was expected of them. Treasures on display include 2nd century BCE fragments of Sappho’s poetry written on papyrus; the manuscript of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Ada Lovelace’s 19th century notes on mathematics; a musical score by Fanny Mendelssohn; a manuscript of Jane Austen’s juvenilia, Volume the First; and photographs by the Victorian photography pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron. Go, sisters!


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’.



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.


EXHIBITION: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Sat 2 Feb

Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri (b. 1964), Éventail de vos hasards, Dress, Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 2018. Dior Héritage collection, Paris

This is 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.


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.



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.


MUSICAL: Dirty Dancing, Wycombe Swan, Mon 4 – Sat 9 Feb

Back by popular demand, the new tour is bound to be a huge hit like all the many productions before it. People can’t seem to get enough of the coming of age story of Baby and her holiday romance with resort dance instructor, Johnny. With all the hits, such as Hungry Eyes and Time of my Life, you’ll be up dancing in the aisles before you can say ‘No-one leaves Baby in the corner’.


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.


MUSICAL: Blood Brothers, Wycombe Swan, Tues 19 – Sat 23 Feb

Written by Willy Russell and produced by Bill Kenwright, Blood Brothers tells the moving story of twins separated at birth and brought up on different sides of the tracks. When they eventually meet, the consequences are far-reaching. With a hit score and great cast, this rousing show has won multiple awards so if musicals are your thing, it’s definitely worth checking out.

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