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This week

Mon 28 Oct - Sun 3 Nov


CULTURE: Margaret Atwood, New Theatre, Oxford, 30 Oct 

I’m super excited for the arrival of Margaret Atwood at New Theatre Oxford this week. The best-selling Canadian author will be talking through The Testaments, her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and discussing Gilead in all it’s too-close-to-real-life-to-be-comfortable glory.


Theatre: Kinky Boots, Milton Keynes Theatre, until 28 Oct 

I’m also looking forward to the return of Olivier award-winning Kinky Boots to our ‘hood at MK Theatre, Milton Keynes; it’s won every major Best Musical award (TONY, Grammy, Olivier – you name it) so a dead cert.


KIDS: Stick ManOxford Playhouse, Oxford, until 30 Oct

At Oxford Playhouse there’s Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stick Man, below, (it’s the duo who created The Gruffalo so should be brilliant) – expect more puppets, songs and live music.


BALLET: The Russian State Ballet and Opera House, Wycombe Swan, 28 Oct 

This week you can see The Russian State Ballet and Opera House pirouette onto the stage at Wycombe Swan with a new interpretation of Swan Lake, featuring Tchaikovsky’s iconic score.


EXHIBITION: Felicity Gill: Being HumanThe North Wall, Oxford, 29 Oct – 9 Nov

Meanwhile, at The North Wall, there’s Felicity Gill: Being Human (below), a series of portrait paintings that look at the human subject behind the lens of social media.


FILM: Exhibition on Scene: Leonardo: The WorksCurzon Cinema, Oxford, 29 Oct 

This new film looks at the iconic painter’s life in HD to commemorate the 500th anniversary of his death, followed by a Q&A with author Martin Kemp and producer Phil Grabsky at swanky Curzon Oxford.


KIDS: Jack and the BeanstalkThe Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, 29 Oct 

At The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury there’s fairytale classic Jack and the Beanstalk, starring Cbeebies’ Patrick Lynch.


Clickety click here for my full fireworks guide for Bucks & Oxon. Kaboom!


COMEDY: Ruby Wax, Wycombe Swan, Wycombe, 30 Oct 

Over at Wycombe Swan the hilarious Ruby Wax pops up with How To Be Human, based on her best-selling book – everything you need to know about relationships, sex, emotions, the body, evolution and more.


AFTERNOON TEA: John Lewis Afternoon Tea, Westgate Oxford, 30 Oct 

John Lewis in Westgate Oxford is hosting a series of Afternoon Tea sessions with Blenheim Palace curator Antonia Keaney. Each date offers a different topic of conversation with this week offering an evening themed on Evacuees and Espionage.


KIDS: Hughenden half term activities, Bucks, until 30 Oct 

For a daytime jaunt head over to Hughenden, Bucks, for a scavenger hunt around the woodlands part of the 50 Things venture (29 Oct). Also at Hughenden there’s The Great Big Tree Climb – a fun and safe way for 6+ kids to scale trees, test balance and coordination (31 Oct). Kids can also tree climb later in the week at Waddesdon Manor (1 – 3 Nov).


COMEDY: Scott Bennett, The Potters Arms, Amersham, 31 Oct 

For an unusual setting for a comedy night, scuttle over to one of my favourite comedy venues The Potters Arms in Amersham for the pub’s next comedy night with funnyman Scott Bennett.


COMEDY: Josh Widdicombe, New Theatre, 31 Oct 

If you missed funnyman Josh Widdicombe earlier this month when he performed in Wycombe, there’s another chance to see his show Bit Much at New Theatre this week.


KIDS: Marty McDonald’s Toy MachineAylesbury Waterside, 31 Oct 

This children’s show features the voice of CBeebies Justin Fletcher as Pongo the pig (you can’t go wrong with a bit of Mr Tumble).


MUSIC:  Sheku Kannek-Mason, Oxford Town Hall, 2 Nov
Superstar cellist (and 2016’s Young Musician of the Year, no less) Sheku Kannek-Mason performs at Oxford Town Hall with a recital of Mendelssohn and Rossini’s major works, among others.


KIDS: Waddesdon Manor Halloween activities, Aylesbury, until 3 Nov 

Need to keep the ankle biters entertained? We’ve got you covered. Waddesdon Manor is hosting a spooky themed afternoon tea especially for children (there’s an adult offering too), featuring ghost meringues and eyeball cupcakes created by The Manor restaurant’s  in-house chef.


Ghost Fest, Oxford Castle and Prison, 26 Oct – 2 Nov 

Oxford Castle’s spook-tactualr Halloween event returns with spooky tours of the prison, Mystic Market seeking all sorts of Goth-y goods, trick or treating and potion making.


SHOP: MK Handmade and Vintage Fair, centre:mk, Milton Keynes, 1 – 3 Nov 

The mega MK Handmade and Vintage Fair, comes to at centre:mk in the cavernous 1800 sq m space outside of John Lewis – it’s huge with over 130 exhibitors selling one-off items from fashion, homewares, furniture, gifts, art, vinyl and more.


KIDS: Peppa Pig’s Best Day EverWycombe Swan, 2 – 3 Nov 

For a rainy afternoon, head to Wycombe Swan for Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever, a brand new live show full of road trips, songs and games. Let’s be honest, you can’t go wrong with Peppa and her clan.


SCIENCE: Morgan and West’s Unbelievable ScienceCornerstone Arts, Didcot, 3 Nov 

Over in Didcot there’s Morgan and West’s Unbelievable Science show which is promising explosive thrills, chemical spills and a sprinkling of education.


LAST CHANCE: Bears!, River and Rowing Museum, Henley, 3 Nov 

It’s last call for sweet children’s exhibition Bears! at River & Rowing Museum in Henley which finishes on 3 Nov (Muddy review here).


Ongoing must-see exhibitions include The Young Turner: Ambitions in Architecture and the Art of Perspectiveon display at Banbury Museum which is a collection of JMW Turner’s work from the 1780s to the 1810s, on loan from The Ashmolean, The Tate and private collections (until 12 Jan);  George Stubbs: ‘all done from Nature’ , at MK Gallery, the first  first overview of the British artist’s work in the UK for over 30 years (until 26 Jan).

In central Oxford you can see a Kiki Smith show ‘I am Wanderer’ (until 19 Jan), at Modern Art Oxford, which promises to take visitors on a mythological and folkloric journey in her huge tapestries to her exquisitely-fashioned gold shells;  the Ashmolean’s current display, Last Supper in Pompeii, with 400+ exhibits from the ancient Roman site buried by the enormous eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD (until 12 Jan); First Animalsan interesting exploration of the first life on earth at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (until 24 Feb).



THEATRE: Lungs, Old Vic theatre, London, 14 Oct – 9 Nov

The Crown alumni Claire Foy and Matt Smith (aka The Queen and Prince Philip, of course) are reunited in Lungs at the Old Vic (14 Oct–9 Nov), playing a couple wrestling with life’s big issues, such as whether to have children, against the backdrop of a world teetering on the edge of environmental and political disaster.



Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane work is the subject of a new V&A exhibition (until 8 March). Tilda Swinton, Björk and, er, Sir David Attenborough are among his subjects and he’s also created 10 new works for the show.

Meanwhile this autumn’s big-hitter is William Blake at Tate Britain, below, (until 2 Feb 2020). The visionary painter and poet’s work will be imaginatively displayed – some of it blown up to enormous scale using digital technology, other works in an immersive room that recreates the space in which Blake first showed his art in 1809.

Elsewhere Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican (4 Oct – 19 Jan) is probably the nearest I’ll get to clubbing this autumn. It’s such a cool concept – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s, including the Berlin cabaret scene in Weimar Germany and Harlem’s jazz clubs and lifesize recreations of some of the hotspots.

Then there’s a major retrospective of 88-year-old Bridget Riley‘s life’s work at the Hayward Gallery (23 Oct – 26 Jan), taking in her famous monochrome, makes-your-eyes-go-funny Op Art paintings from the 1960s among its 70 year career span.

And finally, playing “spot the Angel Of The North” as we drive up the A1 to Newcastle is a family ritual in our house (Geordie in-laws, you see), so I’ve got a soft spot for Antony Gormley’s striking sculpture. His new show at the Royal Academy (until 3 Dec) is billed as his most ambitious in a decade and involves six tonnes of steel mesh, eight km of coiled tubing and a gallery flooded with clay and sea water. Blimey!


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