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This weekend

Fri 25 - Sun 27 Jan 2019


FESTIVAL: FitFest Weekender, Westgate Oxford, Sat 26 – Sun 27 Jan

A fitness and wellness pop-up studio is appearing this weekend at the Westgate to help kick start a healthier you. Free fitness classes will include yoga, boxercise and spin plus you can try new trends like hoop tone, twerk, jump fit and jump rope fit. They’ll be wellness talks, massages featuring brands such as Aveda and Neal’s Yard, make-up fun with Two-Faced and Angels on Bare Skin and you can make your own cleanser with Lush. Live cookery demos by Jericho’s Kitchen and Cinnamon Kitchen with free food to sample will also give you some healthy new recipes to try. It’s all free but you do need to book your space so get cracking.


THEATRE: The Only Way is Suffrage, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 22 – Sat 26 Jan

A new play by Charlotte Delaney, writer-in-residence at Oxford Women in Humanities, focussing on the struggles of a servant who had many challenges in 1911 in addition to confronting the patriarchy. In the era of #MeToo, it’s fascinating to see how far we’ve come from the early days of the suffrage movement.


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.


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: Dr Dolittle The Musical, Oxford New Theatre, until Sat 26 Jan

This acclaimed musical extravaganza is great fun for all the family with stunning puppetry and memorable songs. Based on the 1967 Rex Harrison film, it tells the story of a wacky but kind doctor who can talk to animals and his quest to find the Giant Pink Sea Snail. The doctor is played by Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potterfilms) but the puppets are the stars – the doctor’s trusty sidekick Polynesia the parrot, the bespectacled horse having his eyes tested and an hilarious dance routing from a two-headed camel are real highlights. It looks like the perfect antidote to a cold grey January.


SCIENCE: Stargazing Oxford, Dept of Physics, Oxford University, Sat 26 Jan

Lovely 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.


MUSIC: Oxford Philharmonic, The Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, Sat 26 Jan

Photo credit: John Cairns, Sheldonian Theatre ceiling

Stravinsky is the focus for a concert of piano and wind instruments accompanied by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral in the stunning setting of the Sheldonian. Conducted by resident conductor Marios Papadopoulos, the concert is part of the Oxford Philharmonic’s 20th anniversary season.


ART: Nature of the Beast, Sarah Wiseman Gallery, Oxford, until Sat 9 Feb

Looking at nature’s darker side, this exhibition shows work in a variety of media including painting and photography. Rory Carnegie photographs animals in a studio, and by removing them from their natural surroundings, he plays with our perception of a familiar looking beast; Abigail Reed draws huge moths so we can see how truly strange these creatures are; James Fotheringhame’s paintings find fleeting moments in nature; and Helen Ward pins insects to soft white backgrounds creating shadows and elegant compositions.


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!


EXHIBITION: Great War Propaganda, Abingdon Museum, Oxon, 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.


ART: Penny Woolcock, Fantastic Cities, Modern Art Oxford, until Sun 3 March

Photo: Penny Woolcock Utopia

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’.



EVENT: Home Sweet Home & the Winter Revel, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Fri 25 – Sun 27 Jan

Be part of this fun creative art project and make a home, factory, shop or nightclub out of cardboard and help build a new suburb which will turn into an exhibition from Feb 8. You can build alone or with a group, decorate your property, decide on street names and even make plans for future buildings. It’s free and you can drop in but they recommend booking a property in advance. If you go on Sat 26, stay for the late night party with live music, pop-up circus acts and performances, street food and cocktails in their Winter Revel event.


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.


EXHIBITION: Stanley Spencer: Friends and Family, Stanley Spencer Gallery Cookham, Berks, until Mar  2019

Youth and Experience self portraits by Stanley Spencer

Not a loyalty scheme, but the latest exhibition at the brilliant Stanley Spencer Gallery on Cookham High Street. Although more famous for his local landscapes, his portraits are world class – in fact one on his first self portraits hangs in the Tate Britain. This new exhibition is an intimate snapshot of the artist’s private life, demonstrating his immense talent at capturing the mood and character of those closest to him.


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.



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+.


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’.


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.


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. Tickets are on sale now.

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