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What’s on this week

No plans? Muddy's weekly what's on guide is back, baby, with a mix of local openings, events and online gems.

Coventry and Warwickshire attractions and events are springing back into action for summer with drive-in cinemas (Aladdin at Warwick Castle, anyone?), live drive-in gigs and family shows, new exhibitions, plus brilliant online shows from local venues. Shall we take a look? 

DRIVE-IN CINEMA: Luna Cinema, Warwick Castle

The ever-popular Luna Cinema is back with a drive-in makeover. Expect giant HD LED screens, state-of-the-art digital in-car speakers and stunning backdrops. We love the sound of the Luna Bar – order food and drink from your car by scanning the QR code on the in-car speaker you’re given and hey presto, they’ll roller-skate it over to you. Toilets and medics are on site too (just in case you get overwhelmed by a 30ft Bradley Cooper). At this magnificent castle this week you can watch Cars (July 17), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (July 17), Aladdin (July 18), Pretty Woman (July 18), Mary Poppins (July 19), La La Land (July 19), Notting Hill (July 19), Mean Girls (July 20) and Reservoir Dogs (July 20).

BOOK NOW: Summer Screens has just announced its socially distanced cinema under the stars is hitting the road in August as the deckchairs and gazebos arrive at Rugby in the grounds of Rugby School with three films Jurassic Park (Thur Aug 6), Pretty Woman (Fri Aug 7) and The Greatest Showman (Sat Aug 8).

THEATRE: National Theatre at homeAmadeus, Streaming from 16 to 23 July

The wonderful Lucian Msamati plays Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s iconic play, Amadeus, with live orchestral accompaniment by Southbank Sinfonia. 

LIVE THEATRE: The Magician’s Elephant & The Wars of The Roses Part 1 and 2, RSC, confirmed new dates for winter 2021

Sarah Tipple

Hurray! The RSC this week confirmed new family musical, The Magician’s Elephant, based on the international, best-selling novel by Kate DiCamillo, directed by Sarah Tipple andThe Wars of The Roses Part 1 and 2 in The Swan will now go ahead in Winter 2021. Booking will reopen on Wed Aug 12.

The company hopes to re-open the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) with new events and re-scheduled performances of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors as soon as possible this autumn. 

For bookings made throughout 2020 for future performances, audiences can book their tickets with confidence knowing that if they are unable to attend a performance for any reason, they can exchange their tickets up to 2 hours before the performance or event start time, at no extra cost. Tickets can be exchanged for another performance with seats at the same price or for an RSC Gift Voucher.

ART: Cranach: artist and innovator, Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until Jan 21

Photo by Jamie Woodley

The house and gallery reopened on July 7, in addition to the parkland following a new socially distanced model. You can see the latest exhibition celebrating the portraits of Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder, one of the most successful German artists of all time. A new system of pre-bookable timed tickets has been introduced. The cafe remains closed but the gift shop is open.


The Commentators at Lunar-Festival. Photo by Graeme Braidwood.

Ambitious Birmingham-based theatre Stan’s Cafe has compiled a season of new lockdown dramas including a version of their 2013 show The Anatomy of Melancholy, re-conceived as 35 short split-screen films available to watch online now and entertaining festival comic duo The Commentators can be viewed at home watching films they’ve never seen for a series of live broadcasts and podcasts. a brand new play streaming live – For Quality Purposes set in global call centre exploring the relationship between a caller and call handler. It will be performed on Aug 11 at 7.30pm (and available online afterwards).

THEATRE: 6 critically-acclaimed RSC plays you can watch on BBC iPlayer from home

Macbeth (2018), directed by Polly Findlay with Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack


Hamlet (2016), directed by Simon Godwin with Paapa Essiedu

Photo by Manuel Harlan

Romeo and Juliet (2018), directed by RSC Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman

Photo by Topher-McGrillis

Much Ado About Nothing (2014), directed by Christopher Luscombe

Benedick-and-Beatrice. Photo by Manuel Harlan

Othello (2015), directed by Iqbal Khan with Hugh Quarshie and Lucian Msamati

Emilia and Iago in Othello. Photo by Keith-Pattison

The Merchant of Venice (2015), directed by Polly Findlay

Portia and Bassanio. Photo-by-Hugo-Glendinning

EAT: Pick your own, various locations

Feeling fruity? Farms offering PYO include Malt Kiln Farm in Stretton under Fosse near Rugby has a bumper crop of gooseberries, raspberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants among others to pick. You need to book in advance with time slots released online (open Wed July 15, Thur 16, Fri 17 & Sat 18, 10am – 4pm), £2.50 per person.

BOOK A SUMMER STAYCATION: Mallory Court Country House Hotel, Leamington Spa

Whooppee this week sees the reopening of the manor house and garden dining (from July 17), with Elan Spa opening on July 25. Fancy an al fresco dinner on a stunning hotel terrace in a peaceful garden setting ? Well, take advantage of their summer offer which includes two nights accommodation, a seasonal bellini, dinner on one evening from the Taste of the Season menu, a picnic afternoon tea on another with a full English breakfast both mornings. From £229.00 per room per night (based on two people sharing a standard room).

DAY TRIP: Warwick Castle

Enjoy roaming 64-acres of Capability Brown grounds & landscaped gardens with 20 roaming peacocks, fountains and topiary. Shows, attractions and the Knight’s Village accommodation have also reopened. You’ll be able to climb the Towers and Ramparts, enter the magnificent Great Hall and experience the UK’s biggest Bird of Prey show, The Falconer’s Quest. Pre-book tickets online.


Mrs America: Rose Byrne portrays Gloria Steinem. BBC/FX/Sabrina Lantos

This you can catch the final episodes of both Michaela Coel’s brilliant consent drama I May Destroy You (*sob) which also has a much-obsessed over and current soundtrack; plus the fascinating Mrs America, starring Cate Blanchett  as anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly, Rose Byrne (above as Gloria Steinem), Uzo Aduba and Tracey Ullman about the rise of the feminist movement in the 1970s and Equal Rights Amendment. Both available on iPlayer

I May Destroy You finale, BBC One

Cursed, Netflix, from Fri July 17

Netflix’s new drama with medieval fantasy vibes is based on the New York Times bestselling book by Frank Miller and Thomas Wheeler. A re-imagination of the Arthurian legend it stars 13 Reason’s Why young actor Katherine Langford as Nimue, a woman with a mysterious gift destined to become the Lady of the Lake.

The Plot Against America, Sky Atlantic & Now TV from Tue July 14

90s icon Winona Ryder in The Plot Against America on Sky Atlantic and Now TV

An adaption of Philip Roth’s 2004 alternative history novel by the creator of The Wire David Simon imagining an America that has elected a populist leader as president and begins to slide towards fascism. It’s set in 1940s New Jersey and told from the perspective of a working-class Jewish family. Acting talent includes Winona Ryder, John Turturro, Zoe Kazan and Anthony Boyle.


Clemency, Bohemia Media & Curzon Home Cinema, out from Fri July 17

Award-winning Prison drama Clemency has an incredible performance by Alfre Woodard (above). It was written and directed by Chinonye Chukwu, who became the first Black woman to win the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2019 with the film. Woodard plays a prison warden ground down by the number of Death Row executions she’s had to witness.

Saint Frances, out in cinemas in July date tba

Filmaker Alex Thompson’s debut film is a tender story of a 34-year-old nanny Bridget played by newcomer Kelly O’Sullivan at a crossroads in her life. Fresh from success on the film festival circuit it’s in illustrious company alongside other indie dramas like Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. The film was due to be out on July 17 but will now opens in cinemas later this month.

Birmingham Indian Film Festival – LOVE LIFF AT HOME

Freida Pinto in conversation…

The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) and Birmingham Indian Film Festival (BIFF), together make up Europe’s largest Indian film festival. This summer is running online with interviews includes Hollywood actor and Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto in conversation as well as showcasing films.

CLASICAL: BBC Proms 2020, July 17 – Sept 12

In the year that the Proms turns 125 years old, the 2020 season brings the spirit of the Proms to music-lovers at home with treasures from the archive and incredible live performances over eight-weeks on TV, Radio, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds.

Highlights are set to include Beethoveniana a new mash-up composed by Iain Farrington, inspired by Beethoven’s nine symphonies, created with more than 300 musicians from the BBC orchestras and singers in lockdown and two dancers in a bubble. There’ll also be a final two weeks of unmissable live performances from London’s Royal Albert Hall including sought-after Scottish classical violinist Nicola Benedetti and top British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. 

DAY-TRIP: Feed the Penguins, Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, Burford

Did anyone see that brilliant video of penguins ruling the roost and roaming freely around at Chicago Shedd Aquarium during lockdown? Now kids on summer hols can get close to the little fellas at Cotswold Wildlife Park as its feeding programme is now open (11am & 3pm) with added safety measures.

DAY TRIP: National Trust

Charlecote Park

Fingers on buzzers! Slots sell like hotcakes for National Trust day trips these days, but if you’re lucky enough to get tickets, here are some of our local favourites: Charlecote Park with its landscaped deer park and Wood Yard café for takeaway drinks/snacks; Coughton Court where the parkland, gardens designed by Chelsea Garden Show 2019 silver medal winner Christina Williams (excluding walled garden) and woodland are open; Baddesley Clinton where you can wander through the estate and grounds set in the Forest of Arden; Upton House with its impressive gardens designed by female gardener Kitty Lloyd-Jones in the 1930s and Pavilion cafe; and the picturesque parkland and gardens at Packwood House (excluding the yew and kitchen garden). 


Lianne La Havas

Summer isn’t completely cancelled! As well as Live from the Drive in gigs at Resorts World Arena, Birmingham including The Streets, Dizzee Rascal, The Zutons, Beverley Knight and Marc Almond from Aug 7 there are new albums on the horizon by super talented UK singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas, who this week performs a ticketed live solo concert broadcast live from London’s The Roundhouse (July 17) on the day of her third album release.

Also out on July 31 is A Hero’s Death the new much-awaited second album by Dublin post-punks Fontaines DC. Ultra Mono the new 12-track album by Bristol band Idles out in Sept 25 featuring Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth, Warren Ellis from The Bad Seeds and pianist Jamie Cullum, is preceded by three live streamed gigs at an iconic secret location on Aug 29 & 30.

Another rising British breakthrough artist to watch out for is 19-year-old South Londoner Arlo Parks – who performed a gorgeous live acoustic set as part of the BBC’s Glastonbury at home 50th anniversary weekend celebration. Her beautiful new single Black Dog about depression is stripped-back and heartbreaking.

Closer to home there are two virtual West Midlands music festivals you can enjoy:

Sofasonic Festival, July 17 – 19

The Birmingham-based team behind Supersonic Festival, hailed the “UK’s best small festival” by The Guardian in 2019, are bringing you a weekend of online events on 17-19 July. The line-up includes a new Kids Gig (Live Stream) with one-man-band extravaganza ICHI, an immersive mediation and yoga from Do.omyoga (Kamellia Sara) and bingo hosted by hosted by Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. These events are Pay As You Feel, with 25% of all proceeds being donated to The Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks. Subscribe in advance.

Simmer Lock-down Festival, Sat July 18 & Sun July 19

Simmer Down Festival this year comes to your living rooms, as a free live stream via YouTube Live and Facebook Live. Usually held in the beautiful surroundings of Handsworth Park, Simmer Down is a family music and arts festival, which celebrates Birmingham’s rich cultural diversity by paying tribute to the centrality of reggae and other musical genres that have contributed to Birmingham as an international city of culture.

This year’s line-up has artists, DJs and poets from across the globe as well as the best local talent, including sets from Make It Happen Dance Company, Freetown Collective and Rhythms Del Torro.

BOOK NOW: MUSIC Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace, London, live streaming event on July 23

Nick Cave performs solo at the piano, in a film shot this June, at the iconic London venue. The songs are taken from across the breadth of Cave’s career, including early Bad Seeds to the most recent Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds album, Ghosteen. The performance was filmed by award-winning cinematographer Robbie Ryan (The Favourite, Marriage Story, American Honey). Tickets on sale now for £16.


ONLINE EXHIBITION: The Art of Advertising, The Bodleian Library, Oxford, until Aug 31

How cool is this print? The Bodleian’s The Art of Advertising has gone online; a whistle-stop tour through British advertising from the mid-18th century to the 1930s, you can see prints from the Bodleian’s renowned John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera.

EXHIBITION: International Garden Photographer of the Year Exhibition, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until Aug 19

Wanna see some pretty pictures? This outdoor exhibition features unusual earthy shots of gardens, flowers, plants and botanicals printed on large display boards next to the Rose Garden. The palace, park and gardens are now all open for visitors.

DAY TRIP: Rousham Gardens, nr Bicester

These beautiful landscaped gardens by William Kent (1685-1748) at privately owned Rousham Gardens are one of the few from this period not to have been altered, so drink in the beauty of its ponds and cascades in Venus’s Vale, the Cold Bath, seven-arched Praeneste, Townsend’s Building, the Temple of the Mill, and a faux ruin known as the ‘Eyecatcher’. There’s also a lovely walled garden with herbacious borders, small parterre, pigeon house and espalier apple trees. No children under 14 are allowed so it’s a great place to walk off some of the lockdown stress in peace.

MUSIC: Garsington Opera online

The bucolic Wormsley Estate in Buckinghamshire (home to Garsington Opera) may be closed for now but you can still get your opera fix online with three of the iconic opera company’s full length shows: Les nozze di Figaro, The Turn of the Screw (above) and opera on ice (yep, really!), The Skating Rink. There’s also a brand new documentary series on YouTube which explores opera’s connection to art and literature, presented by Garsington’s Johnny Langridge and art historian Dr Imogen Tedbury.

ONLINE EXHIBITION: Kiki Smith: I am Wanderer, Modern Art Oxford, until Aug 10

Modern Art Oxford is still closed for now but you can see the quirky Kiki Smith show ‘I Am Wanderer’ over on the gallery’s website with a virtual tour that takes you on a mythological and folkloric journey through her huge tapestries and exquisitely-fashioned gold shells – all from the comfort of your sofa.

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