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This Week



MUSIC: Ella Mai, O2 Institute Birmingham, Tues Jan 8

Image courtesy of 10 Summers/Interscope Records

Quick-rising R&B star Ella Mai had an amazing 2018, working with John Legend and Chris Brown on her critically acclaimed debut album, alongside breaking a chart record in the US. Not bad for an X Factor reject. But the south London singer feels Britain doesn’t quite get her style. She is now living in LA signed to hip-hop heavyweight DJ Mustard’s 10 Summer’s label. Now on The Debut Tour this is your last chance to see her in smaller venues. academymusicgroup


THEATREA Christmas Carol, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford, until Jan 20

Photo by Manuel-Harlan

Bah, humbug! With a new cast for 2018 including Aden Gillett replacing Phil Davis as Scrooge and all the magic and cosiness of last year’s smash new adaption by David Edgar, this ‘magnificent & wonderful’ (Daily Telegraph) show is selling quickly and now only has best availability for January performances. A wonderful Victorian festive treat! rsc


Wolf & Moon, Hare and Hounds,  Kings Heath, Birmingham, Wed Jan 9

The Dutch  dream folk duo, who also happen to be a couple, filmed their wedding and turned it into a video for 2017’s loved-up single Home to Me. Their latest album Before it Gets Dark is out on January 25, http://hareandhoundskingsheath


MUSIC – Fontaines DC, Coventry Central Library, Sat Jan 12

Photo by Molly Keane

If you like fast and furious garage indie punk rock this noisy Dublin band of ‘musical agitators’ will be just up your street. Their gigs are quickly selling out across Ireland and the UK due to the word-of-mouth fervour attached to their live shows. Their new single Too Real is phenomenal! You can totally hear vocalist Grian Chatten’s thick Irish accent barking out ‘tales of disillusionment and mental dissolution’ (NME).


FILM: NT Live – Antony & Cleopatra (Encore Screening), Warwick Arts Centre, Sun Jan 13

Broadcast live from the National Theatre, Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo play Shakespeare’s famous fated couple in his great tragedy of politics, passion and power. Director Simon Godwin’s Timon of Athens is currently showing in Stratford at the RSC’s Swan Theatre. warwickartscentre


FILM: The Favourite, from Tues Jan 1

Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone star in this love-triangle / power battle that looks wonderfully bitchy. Olivia Coleman is Queen Anne, dominated by her scheming courtier Rachel Weisz. When Emma Stone appears at court she is determined to win the Queen’s favour. What ensues is a jaw-dropping power struggle, played out against the backdrop of England during the Restoration. Colman’s Anne has just won a Golden Globe in the 2019 awards.


THEATRE: Timon of Athens, Swan Theatre, Stratford, until Feb 22 2019


Simon Godwin directs the acclaimed Kathryn Hunter as Timon in Shakespeare’s sharp satire on wealth, greed and betrayal.  Poignant, funny and bitter, it tells the story of how the world moves from privilege to poverty with heart-breaking speed. Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo star in Godwin’s sumptuous award-winning production of Antony & Cleopatra (above) at The National in London, ending Sat Jan 19 2019. rsc


THEATRE: Tartuffe, Swan Theatre, Stratford, until Feb 23

Asif Khan as Tartuffe and Sasha Behar as Amira. Production photos by Topher McGrillis (c) RSC

BAFTA and Emmy-Award winning TV writers Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto – creators of The Kumars at No. 42, Goodness Gracious Me, Citizen Khan and The Office – have reimagined Moliere’s great French comedy in modern-day Birmingham. The result is a sharp, vigorously funny and topical comedy set within the home of a well-to-do Brummie Pakistani family. It cleverly blends themes of religious hypocrisy, #metoo “victim shaming”, Brexit jokes and music styles including a freestyle beatbox rap battle. Review herersc


THEATRE: Commonism, Birmingham Rep, Tues Jan 8 – Fri Jan 11

Bothered by Brexit? Award-winning theatre makers Andy Smith from the North of England and Amund Sjølie Sveen, from the North of Norway go in search of some common ground in this UK premiere. / 0121 236 4455.


ART: Haroon Mirza: Reality is somehow what we expect it to be, Ikon, Birmingham, until Feb 24 2019


UK artist Haroon Mirza recently displayed two new artworks at Frieze London in response to French Fashion house, Louis VuittonImitation, featuring Louis Vuitton bags and wallets, are installations created by the artist, “in response to window displays in various cities by the French fashion house that Mirza says are ‘blatant appropriations’ of his solar-powered sculptures,”. The artists’ new show is the most comprehensive exhibition of his work in the UK to date. The Ikon’s exhibition space will be filled entirely with moving imagery, sculptural installation and electronic sound.


HERITAGE: Shakespeare Birthplace Trusts’ The Secrets of Conservation, Shakespeare’s 5 family homes, throughout Jan


The charity is lifting the lid on some of the conservation work that takes place at the 5 historic Shakespeare Family Homes in Stratford-upon-Avon and in its internationally recognised library, archive and museum collection. Special events will take throughout January, including an exhibition of never-before-seen photographs taken during the £6m redevelopment of Shakespeare’s New Place, a talk on how the archaeological finds dating back to the Shakespeare’s time are being conserved and the rare chance to see some of the normally hidden discoveries at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Experts from the Trust will also be sharing their hints and tips on how to care for household antiques.

A full programme of events is listed here: shakespeare


VEGANUARY: Turtle Bay, Leamington Spa, Solihull & Birmingham

Hurray! This quality Caribbean chain has this month launched a new three-course plant-based Vegan Lunch deal for £15 and updated its vegan and veggie offering including its first vegan burger, the Kernel Burger – as sweetcorn patties are given a Caribbean twist with vibrant flavours and spices, roasted red peppers and sweet onion chutney. Other specialities include: Crispy Chickpeas, Caribbean Hummus, Smashed Avo, Chilli Pineapple Salad, Sunshine Quinoa, Supergreen Salad, Sweet Potato Fries, Spiced Fries, Coconut Rice‘n’Peas, Steamed Rice, Green Herby Rice, Lemony Rice, Bara Roti, Sweet Plantain and Creamy Coconut Callaloo. 


WELLBEING: Drift Away Spa Day, The Belfry, Wishaw near Sutton Coldfield, book before Jan 14

Start the year as you mean to go on with a reduced ultimate spa day in the January sale.  Your treatment will include a shoulders, neck and scalp massage followed by Afternoon Tea. Was £109, now £89. Available until 28th February 2019. Subject to availability. Book by Jan 14, thebelfry



The 1975, Arena Birmingham, Wed Jan 23

This is a band who like long album titles! Their second album  I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it was a huge hit topping charts in the UK and the US with critics hailing them as this generation’s Radiohead. Their new album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is slightly shorter. arenabham


BALLET: Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Birmingham Hippodrome, Feb 5 – 15 2019


Matthew Bourne’s menacing, witty and unique production of Swan Lakehas won tons of awards and rightly so. It’s best known for the all male corps-de-ballet – unheard of in the ballet world before – but it’s an all-round winner even if you’re not a ballet fan. birminghamhippodrome


THEATRE: All About Eve, Noel Coward Theatre, London, Sat Feb 2 – Sat May 11

Not the recent fabulous tv series but a play based on the award-winning 1950s film starring Bette Davis as Margo Channing, a Broadway star, and her young fan, Eve Harrington, who inveigles her way into her life. With Gillian Anderson and Lilly James in the starring roles, director Ivo van Hove at the helm, and with the themes of celebrity and youth at its core, this looks like a dead cert for success.


THEATRE: When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Ourselves, the National Theatre, London, Wed Jan 16 – Sat Mar 2

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.


ART: Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory, Tate Modern, Jan 23 – May 6

Pierre Bonnard Le Jardin 1936 Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris, France).

Rediscover this French post-impressionist master of colour and composition in this first major exhibition of Bonnard​‘s work since a much-loved show at Tate 20 years ago. The exhibition concentrates on Bonnard’s work from 1912, when colour became a dominant concern, until his death in 1947. Interesting tie-in events include Yin Yoga, brunch and Bonnard (Jan 26, Feb 2 & Feb 9)




THEATRE: Macbeth, New Theatre Oxford, Tues  Jan 8 – Sat 12

Following its sell out in London, the National Theatre’s production of Macbeth goes on tour round the UK and lands in Oxford this week. Directed by the National’s Artistic Director Rufus Norris, and with the designer of War Horse, Rae Smith on board, this new production takes place in a post-apocalyptic anarchic world. Every possible sign of brilliance, right here.


TALK: An Evening with Alice Roberts, Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, Fri Jan 11

Prof Alice Roberts, TV anthropologist and author, will be Digging into Britain’s Past with her touring show that shares her insights, anecdotes and behind-the-scenes stories from her career. They’ll be footage from her many shows (Time Team, Coast, Digging for Britain, Britain’s Most Historic Towns) and excerpts from her books, finishing with a 20 min Q&A.


FAMILY DAY OUT: Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Watford, now until Sun 27 Jan

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.


THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, The Old Vic, London, until Sat Jan 19

The smash hit of Dickens’ classic adapted by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and directed by Matthew Warchus returns to the Old Vic and this time Stephen Tompkinson stars as Ebenezer Scrooge. This big-hearted and warm production’s unique staging immerses the audience in the story and there’s music, mince pies and much merriment for a fab festive night out.

Find more ideas here

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