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Things to Do This Week


Lady Gaga’s Joanne World Tour, Arena Birmingham, formerly Barclaycard Arena Wed Jan 31 & Genting Arena, Thurs Feb 1

Expect back-to-back performances, jamming though hits like “Poker Face,” “Perfect Illusion,” “John Wayne,” “Alejandro,” and an unexpected but widely appreciated fan-favourite “Born This Way” track “Scheiße in true superstar form. Tickets bought for Lady Gaga’s original Arena Birmingham date (Oct 15 2017) will still be valid. Tickets available here.

Relaxed performance of A Christmas Carol & exhibition The Play’s The Thing, Stratford, Thurs Feb 1

A Christmas Carol. Photo byManuel-Harlan c, RSC

The RSC will create a new relaxed version of the Company’s award-winning exhibition, The Play’s The Thing, to accompany the relaxed performance of A Christmas Carol on February 1. Entry to The Play’s The Thing on this day will be free. Relaxed performances offer a more casual environment than the usual strict rules of the theatre. The lighting is raised in the auditorium, very loud noises or music may be turned down, or lines slightly adapted. They also feature more relaxed rules on when visitors can enter and exit the theatre, and have a ‘chill-out’ room where people can go if they need quiet time during the show.

Book here or Tel the Box Office on 01789 403493.

Imperium Part I: Conspirator & Imperium Part II: Dictator, The Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon, now – Feb 10 2018

Imperium Part I: Conspirator production photos, 2017. L-R – Jade Croot as Tullia and Siobhan Redmond playing Terentia, Photo: Ikin Yum, (c) RSC

RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran directs Richard McCabe in the title role of Robert Harris’ best-selling Cicero trilogy along with Siobhan Redmond. It follows playwright Mike Poulton’s highly successful RSC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. A critically-acclaimed two-part, seven hour epic.


Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter, Birmingham Rep, Fri Feb 2 – Sat Feb 17

Directed by Emma Rice, former artistic director at Shakespeare’s Globe, London, this heart-pounding Kneehigh production returns to Birmingham after 10 years combining the romance of the cinema with all that live theatre can offer.

Box Office: 0121 236 4455 Online Booking:

Twelfth Night, RST, Stratford, now – Feb 24 2018

Dinita Gohil as Viola. Photo: Manuel Harlan (c) RSC

The RSC’s winter production Twelfth Night sees Ade Edmondson, of The Young Ones and Bottom fame, as Olivia – Kara Tointon’s dour steward Malvolio in Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy. Directed by Christopher Luscombe, who recreated Warwickshire’s Charlecote Park on stage for the RSC’s fabulous Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing, it’s set in Victorian Britain. Also starring Birmingham’s Dinita Gohil as Viola and Michael Cochrane as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

Shazia Mirza: With Love From St. Tropez, Studio, Spa Centre, Leamington Spa, Feb 3

A show about lies and truth- or is that the same thing?  Following her critically acclaimed 2016, 103 night sell-out international tour; The Kardashians Made Me Do It’, Shazia Mirza presents her brand new stand-up show for 2017/18.
‘A show about lies and truth- or is that the same thing? Nudity and the Periodic Table, these things hold the key to the future. How much do you wear? What do you look like, and will they let you in? Oh, and don’t you dare wear more than dental floss on a French beach’. Suitable for ages 12+.

royalspacentreandtownhallTel: 01926 737154 or email

Julius Caesar: First Encounters, RSC, Swan Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Fri Feb 2 – Sat Feb 3

Marieke Audsley – Director of First Encounters Julius Caesar. Headshot credit: the artist

Great idea this. A new version of Julius Caesar for 8 -13 year olds. Part of the RSC’s First Encounters with Shakespeare series, these engaging adaptations are 90 minutes long, use Shakespeare’s original language and ask audiences to participate in the story. Beats Lett’s Notes any day (come on admit it, you used them too!).  It will then be embarking on a 7-week national tour of schools and regional theatres. Locations include London, Cornwall, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Bradford, County Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Hull, Canterbury, Birmingham and Northampton.

Box Office: 01789 403493, rsc, 2pm on Fri; 10am on Sat.

Check out this year’s Oscar nominated films 

I went to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri last weekend, and while the subject matter may be pretty raw Martin McDonagh’s 115 min tragicomedy has some belter lines and an amazing performance by Fargo Oscar-winner Frances McDormand. Five of the 9 Best Picture nominated  films are currently in cinemas or out in Feb – Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water and The Post.

A Christmas Carol, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now – Feb 4 2018 


Bah humbug! The RSC’s new eagerly-awaited stage adaptation by David Edgar of Charles Dickens’ seasonal classic starring the excellent PoldarkSherlock and Quadrophenia actor Phil Davis as Scrooge. Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, who brought The Wind in the Willows to the London Palladium earlier this year, starring Rufus Hound as Toad. Review here.

Book here.

Learn the Transcendental Meditation technique, Free introductory courses available in Stratford & Birmingham

Transcendental Meditation is having a moment. After the Sixties peace ’n’ love era it largely faded from view, but now everyone from Lena Dunham to film director David Lynch is into it. Jarvis Cocker even dedicated one of his BBC 6 Music Sunday Service’s to TM last month. More than 300 scientific studies show huge health benefits including reduced anxiety and depression. Learning TM involves a free introductory talk, then personal instruction by one of 79 fully accredited, qualified UK teachers, including media lecturer Huw Meads, wife Linda and artist Claire Winteringham, who run courses in Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham., Tel: 07775 409644

Book now! Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Birmingham Hippodrome Tue Feb 6 – Sat Feb 10

Matthew Bourne’s productions are always stunning and this is no exception. He transposes the story of Cinderella to London during the Blitz, rebooting it as a wartime romance between our heroine and an RAF pilot. The reviews have been of the rave variety, with Lez Brotherston’s sumptuous costumes and sets winning Olivier Award.


Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, until April 15

More than 80 modern and contemporary artworks by internationally renowned artists including Andy Warhol, Sarah Lucas, Grayson Perry, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Steve McQueen, Derek Jarman, Sunil Gupta, Chila Kumari Burman and Gillian Wearing exploring themes of gender, sexuality and identity in art.

birminghammuseums, free

Fairport Convention, The Albany Theatre, Coventry, Thurs Feb 1

Fairport Convention, who celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2017, back in the day…

Folk legends Fairport Convention have been making great music for more than half a century! Credited with originating British folkrock music, the band has won a coveted BBC Lifetime Achievement Award and Radio 2 listeners voted Fairport’s ground-breaking album, Liege & Lief tThe Most Influential Folk Album of All Time. The band will be playing in this beautiful Art Deco gem in the heart of Coventry, at 7.30 pm. Suitable for age 8+ Tickets: £25.

The Albany Theatre, Albany Road, Coventry CV5 6JQ Box office: 02476 998 964. Email:

Made in the Middle, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, Rugby, now to March 10

John Grayson – La Brexiteuse à petits talons. Photo credit: John Grayson

An exhibition celebrating the best contemporary craft and applied art from the Midlands including jeweller Dauvit Alexander Aimee Bollu, who creates beautiful minimal ceramic vessels,  John Grayson the creator of whimsical, humorous and decorative metal objects like the ones above and Karina Thompson, who pushes the boundaries of digital embroidery. Free.

The exhibition runs Jan 20-March #madeitm30 #madeitm;

The Lights of Leamington, Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, until April 15

During the ’50s an annual autumn festival known as The Lights of Leamington drew 300,000 visitors to the town. Thousands of coloured electric lights turned Jephson Gardens into a wonderland until the switch was turned off in 1961. This new exhibition curated by Birmingham-based artist Stuart Whipps illustrates the diverse ways light runs through the gallery collection. Lights used during the historic festival will be on display alongside light emitting objects linked to Leamington’s history, such as lights used in medical spa treatments, plus paintings and photographs depicting or utilising light. Free.

Discounted entry, Twycross Zoo, Atherstone, until Feb 9

The zoo is also offering local families’ term-time discounted entry, so families can enjoy a peaceful visit to the zoo, while most people are back in work or at school. ‘Twycross Toddlers’ will offer entry to adults for only £5, children aged between 3-15 years for only £5 and as always under 3’s go free.

Twycross Zoo is open to the public from 10am-5pm, or Tel 0844 474 1777

Live music with The Hatstand Band & (Pre-ordered) Food, Three Cafe, Bistro, Bar, Cakery, Clifton Road, Rugby, Thurs Feb 1

Doors open at 7pm. Supper dishes includes Fish curry with rice & yoghurt, spicy pulled chicken with rice and raita and Baked Camembert with fig jam & rustic roll from £7.50.


Antartic Monkeys, Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby, Sat Feb 3

Artic Monkeys may have just announced their return in 2018, but if you can’t wait that long check out the next best thing this weekend! These 4 lads mimic Turner, Cook, O’Mally and Helder’s style perfectly and have performed to sell-out gigs in Sheffield and Birmingham.


Frost/Nixon, The Priory Theatre, Kenilworth,  Mon Jan 29  – Sat Feb 3

In the TV age of 1977, image is king! British talk-show host David Frost has become a lowbrow laughing-stock. Richard M. Nixon has just resigned the United States presidency in total disgrace over Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. Determined to resurrect his career, Frost risks everything on a series of in-depth interviews in order to extract an apology from Nixon. The cagey Nixon, is equally bent on redeeming himself in his country’s eyes. Both men are desperate to out-talk and upstage each other as the cameras roll. The result is the interview that sealed a president’s legacy. Peter Morgan’s play – made into the 2008 Oscar nominated  film – makes it clear that the competitor who controls the camera reaps the spoils.


Clare Woods: Reality Dimmed, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, now – Sat March 10

Clare Woods, Creeping Eruptions, 200 cm x 150 cm, Oil on Aluminium, 2017

Mead Gallery’s Spring exhibition will see renowned Hereford based painter, Clare Woods, exhibit a solo show of never seen before paintings in Reality Dimmed. Her work is held in many international collections and this major exhibition will see her exhibit her raw and powerful painting, which are frequently vast in scale.

Mead Gallery, free 

British Motor Museum launches 2018 spring lectures and workshops programme, Gaydon, Warwickshire

Highlights for  petrolheads include one-day event Inside British Motorsport on March  3 featuring many speakers from the world of motorsport hosted by Steve Cropley, Editor-in-Chief of Autocar magazine and Stephen Laing, Curator of the British Motor Museum and popular Classic Virgins Experience Day returns on April 21 – a hands-on, informative day for anyone considering buying and owning a classic car. For those interested in photography art and creative writing, the Museum offers 3 photography workshops this spring starting with Cars through the Lens on Feb 24), 4 art workshops with Richard Cook, a recently retired art teacher, including Automotive Sketching in Perspective on March  and Sharon Bradshaw, a poet and bestselling author of historical fiction will be delivering Motoring Memoirs on April 21.

Booking is essential for all lectures and workshops, Tel: 01926 649649 or go to britishmotormuseum

Get Fit for Life, Not Just for Summer – a Fitness Event for Women, Rugby School Sports Centre, Rugby, Thurs Feb 1

Rugby vintage hat designer Sofya Bridal will be wearing her other hat – as an events organiser – there’ll be fitness demos, a Bubble Tea and Milkshake Bar and complimentary therapy specialists offering taster sessions in aid of the Matt Hampson Foundation, supported by the Mayor of Rugby. Tickets £6.

Winter, The Stratford Gallery, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Jan 31 2018

Kate Iles, Moth Bulb, 2017

This lovely little gallery celebrates its first birthday with a Christmas exhibition welcoming back new work from artists who have helped make their first year “so wonderful” and introducing several new artists.

The Stratford Gallery, 32 Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, WarwickshireCV37 6EE.


Pots With Attitude, British Museum, WC1, now to March 11

Bonaparte Dethron’d April 1st 1814. Creamware jug, Cambrian Pottery, Swansea, Wales, transfer-printed in black and painted in enamels, 1814. On loan from a private collection.

In the Georgian age, satirical art really did include images on the inside of chamber pots. Pioneering transfer techniques allowed caricatures to be reproduced on jugs, bowls and other ceramics, piss pots included, taking  contemporary art of the day to a popular audience in alehouses and inns. One reviewer described as “like Grayson Perry on snuff”.

Speakers, by Nicolas Party, Modern Art Oxford, until 18 Feb 2018 

This exhibition at Modern Art Oxford has been running since late November but if you’re yet to catch it now’s your chance. The Swiss artist Nicolas Party (formerly a graffiti specialist)  has produced Speakers, a theatrical selection of five five foot female heads, complete with two hour looped soundscape that seems to speak to you as you brush past. The work is a response to the masculine architecture and institutions of Oxford, particularly the Emperors’ Heads outside the Sheldonian Theatre. Weird, and kind of wonderful.

Amadeus, the National Theatre, London from now – Tue April 24

Following a critically lauded sell-out run in 2016, Michael Longhurst’s production of Peter Shaffer’s play returns with the brilliant Lucian Msamati – who played Iago in the RSC’s 2015 production of Othello – as composer Antonio Salieri, who strikes a deal with God and is overtaken by a jealous vendetta against his musical rival, Mozart.

National Theatre, SE1

Cézanne Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, now – 11 Feb 2018

This started just last week, Brings together over 50 of Cézanne’s portraits from collections across the world, including works which have never been on public display in the UK . Over a working life of some forty-five years, Cézanne made almost 1,000 paintings of which around 160 are portraits and this exhibition offers a fascinating insight into this central aspect of his work.

Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, now – Feb 4

Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas!  The festive makeover will see Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden,

Veganuary: new ‘Meet Feast’ menu, Comptoir V, London, until Jan 31

New London-based vegan restaurant, Comptoir V, has launched a ‘Meet Feast’ menu, available throughout January to celebrate Veganuary – a month-long campaign inspiring people to give veganism a try.

Tel 0203 092 0047, 

Modigliani, Tate Modern, now – April  2 2018

The Tate Modern’s comprehensive retrospective of Modigliani’s work is quite a treat. During his brief, turbulent life Modigliani developed a unique and instantly recognisable style. His nudes that are a highlight of the exhibition – with 12 nudes on display, this is the largest group ever reunited in the UK. First shown in 1917, police closed down his only ever solo exhibition on the grounds of indecency. Also expect sculptures, and portraits of his friends, lovers and supporters, including Pablo Picasso and his partner Jeanne Hébuterne.

North – Fashioning Identity, Somerset House, now – Feb 4 2018

Alice-Hawkins, LOVE magazine, ‘The Liver Birds’, 2012

Forget the north/south divide, London doffs its hat to Manchester, Newcastle et al in this new exhibition. Social documentary film and photography detailing life in the north of England in the mid-20th century sits alongside works by photographers, designers and artists inspired by the parts of our green and pleasant land beyond the Watford Gap. Contributors include Nottingham’s finest Paul Smith and Manchester’s Factory Records designer Peter Saville. If you visit after 15 Nov,  you can also take a twirl on Somerset House’s gorgeous outdoor ice rink.

Imagining the Divine – Art and the Rise of World Religions, Ashmolean, Oxford, now to Sun Feb 18 2018

Could have had a catchier title truth be told! But anyhoo, this major exhibition is the first to look at the art of the five world religions as they spread across continents in the first millennium AD. Blimey! Brand new research from a major project between The Ashmolean Museum, the British Museum and Oxford Uni, with amazing objects created when the iconography of each of the major religions was still being developed…

Codebreaker and Groundbreakers, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until Sun Feb 4

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, the Oscar-winning film about the life of Alan Turing

A pioneering exhibition to feed your mind celebrating the genius of Second World War codebreakers like Alan Turing at Bletchley Park with Michael Ventris who in the same year deciphered Linear B, the ancient Greek language.  It includes an Enigma machine, a rare loan from GCHQ, and unique archival documents held at the University of Cambridge, as well as encouraging visitors to explore ‘codebreaking’ in all its forms.


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