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This week

Mon 4 - Sun 10 Nov


Oxford Think Festival, Blackwell’s Bookshop, Broad Street, 9 – 21 Nov

A partnership between Oxford University Press and Blackwell’s Oxford, this totally free event celebrates knowledge with a series of talks about the big issues and ideas of our time. The main festival runs across 16 – 17 Nov, with a special preview event on the legacy of the Blair government on Nov 9 and a closing World Philosophy Day event on 21 Nov. Events are free, but booking advised.


COMEDY: Ben Elton, Wycombe Swan, Wycombe, 4 Nov 

Ho ho ho! (sorry, too early?) There’s plenty to laugh about this week, but most notably, we recommend getting tickets for Ben Elton’s return to the stand up scene. The iconic comedian hasn’t toured in 15 years, with his new material promising to attempt to make sense of a world that he thinks has gone mad (fair point). If you miss him this week, don’t worry, he’ll also be performing at Aylesbury Waterside (19 Nov).



So many displays to write about I’m ready to combust. Read here for my full fireworks guide for Bucks & Oxon. KABOOM!


THEATRE: PinocchioOld Fire Station, Oxford, 4 – 9 Nov 

This week you can see a modernised dark twist on Pinocchio by Oxford Theatre Guild at Old Fire Station using puppets (obvs), physical theatre and original music. It’s promising to be a little scary so recommended for 10+.


EAT: Wine & Spice evening, The Cinnamon Kitchen, Westgate Oxford, Thurs 7 Nov

cinnamon kitchen restaurant interior tables dining

Hands up who likes it hot? The Cinnamon Kitchen, up on Westgate Oxford’s rooftop, is hosting a mid-week Wine & Spice evening – you’ll learn which wines match which spice levels and get to scoff some top-notch Indian small plates curated by owner and executive chef Vivek Singh. Tickets here


THEATRE: Kinky Boots, MK Theatre, Milton Keynes, until 8 Nov

There’s still time to catch the return of Olivier award-winning Kinky Boots at MK Theatre, Milton Keynes, which started its stint last month. It’s won every major Best Musical award (TONY, Grammy, Olivier – you name it) so is a dead cert.


TALK: Ben Fogle: Tales from the Wilderness, New Theatre, Oxford, 4 Nov 

The serial adventurer (he’s climbed Everest, dodged pirates and walked to the South Pole) will be discussing his past expeditions and answering questions from the audience.


THEATRE: Stranger, Baby, Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford Playhouse, Oxford, 5 – 9 Nov

Based on a collection of poems by Emily Berry, this moving original theatre production explores themes of motherhood, love and loss and the sense of a splitting self. Pack tissues, it looks like a tear-jerker.


THEATRE: Nativity! The MusicalAylesbury Waterside, 6 – 10 Nov 

At Aylesbury Waterside there’s an early festive attack with Nativity! The Musical, following the show’s two sell-out stints in London in 2017 and 2018. I watched the show in Oxford last year and it really was brilliant – proper feel-good, family theatre at its finest.


ART: Illustrated talk by Katie Surridge, Bucks County Museum, Aylesbury, 7 Nov 

The museum’s artist in residence, mixed media artist, sculptor and metal worker Kate Surridge, will be speaking about her previous work, inspirations and her new exhibition inspired by 45 archaeological items in the museum collections.


THEATRE: Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Kenton Theatre, Henley, 7 Nov 

Hotbuckle Productions bring their new interpretation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel to Henley, about a young girl living in poverty whose life is transformed when she claims kinship with the wealthy D’Urberville family.


COMEDY: Stand Up and Evolution, Oxford Museum of National History, 8 Nov

To accompany Oxford Museum of National History’s major exhibition First Animals, the brilliant Jericho Comedy is hosting a comedy night at the museum (ah, see what they did there?), taking a funnier look at the origins of evolution.


MUSIC: Leonardo Shaping The Invisible, Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, 8 Nov

 In central Oxford, the beautiful Sheldonian Theatre is marking the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death with a performance by British solo-voice ensemble I Fagiolini, commissioned by composer Adrian Williams and poet Gillian Clarke. The performance will be accompanied by a talk from Leonardo expert Martin Kemp (no, not that one!).


COMEDY: Geoff Norcott, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, 8 Nov 

The eyebrow-raising Question Time regular comes to our locale with his provocative show Taking Liberties. 


MUSIC: St Giles Orchestra, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, 9 Nov 

The local St Giles Orchestra put on their annual show at Cornerstone Arts.


KIDS: Family Folk Show, Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, 9 Nov

This short 45 minute show is perfect for young families (for kids up to the age of 7). Award-winning folk duo Megson will be supplying the music with a concert especially designed for younger audiences. The duo will also be performing at Mill Arts Centre in Banbury (16 Nov).



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).



EVENT: Funk and Soul Christmas Party, Ashmolean Museum Rooftop Restaurant, Oxford, 4 Dec 

Party at the museum, anyone? This festive evening, held at the Ashmolean’s gorgeous rooftop restaurant, kicks off with spiced rum punch cocktails, gourmet soul food stalls, homemade cocktails followed by brilliant funk and soul tunes blasted until late.




Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane work is the subject of a blockbuster V&A exhibition (until 8 March). Tilda Swinton (below), 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.

Excuse me, after writing that lot I think I need to lie down until December.

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