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This weekend

Fleabag, Warwick Arts Centre, Tues May 8 – Sat May 12

A must-see for fans of the BAFTA award-winning BBC 3 TV series. This stage production of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s gloriously inappropriate cult hit starring Maddie Rice – it will make you gasp! Read my review here. Recommended for ages 16+.


B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival, Birmingham Hippodrome, Wed May 9 – Sun May 13

Photo credit: Joe Bailey

B-Side -Birmingham’s annual FREE Hip-Hop festival kicks off this week with tons to do in and around Birmingham Hippodrome and Southside. There’ll be dance competitions, rap battles and family-friendly workshops, plus graffiti and street art – set to the sounds of the festival from live DJs and MCs. Now in its third year, the festival presents all things Hip-Hop from around the world with headline acts including Red Bull BC Champion, Menno Van Gorp, singer/songwriter, producer, Emmavie and world-famous popper Greenteck. Check out and Twitter using #BSIDE18 for updates.

Venues: Birmingham Hippodrome – Patrick Studio, Studio 5, Hippodrome Square, Main Stage, Gowling Suite, PwC Suite, Atrium and Main Foyer,

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Warwick Arts Centre, Friday May 11

One of the world’s most distinctive male a capella group will be in town. The South African singers who shot to global stardom after featuring on Paul Simon’s 1986 album Graceland, recently performed at The Queen’s 92nd Birthday party alongside guests Sir Tom Jones, Kylie Minogue and Craig David.


Draycote Water Sailing Club Open Day, nr Rugby, Sat May 12

Try sailing and windsurfing for free between 11am and 4pm on this scenic Warwickshire reservoir. All kit and equipment is provided. It’s a fun day out – especially if the sun is shining and you may fancy joining the club. There’s a cafe and children’s play area close-by. No need to book. Just bring a pair of old trainers and a towel!

draycotewater,, 01788 814418/811153

Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, Birmingham Town Hall, Sun May 13

An outstanding Welsh harpist and Senegalese kora player combo. Their critically-acclaimed debut  Clychau Dibon, appeared in a whole batch of 2013’s “best of” lists and their long-awaited second album Soar was released last month. In a four-star review The Guardian‘s Neil Spencer wrote: “Hypnotic and ethereal, Soar is a unique marriage of cultures”.


Romeo & Juliet, RST, Stratford, April 21 – Sept 21/ Live in Cinemas: Jul 18

Photo by Topher McGrillis © RSC

Check out the RSC’s youthful, gender-fluid revival with Coventry’s Bally Gill and Glaswegian actress Karen Fishwick as the doomed teen lovers. Erica Whyman examines Generation Z, grime culture and the destructiveness of knife crime in this powerful present-day production.


The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, Birmingham REP, Sat May 12 – Sat May 19

Arguably the most sought-after European opera and theatre directors, Calixto Bieito brings this radical new 90-minute production to Birmingham for its world premiere, before an international tour to Brighton Festival, Luxembourg, Bilbao and Holland. It stars BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated actress Cathy Tyson, Mairead McKinley, Miltos Yerolemou and Nick Harris, alongside the award-winning The Heath Quartet. It explores the effects of living in a very fast-moving digital world on our mental wellbeing. Text from Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy is combined with music including Beethoven’s String Quartet No.15 in A Minor. Recommended for ages 16+

Tickets from £15 (previews from £10) Tel: 0121 236 4455 /

The Waterboys, Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Sun May 13

I heard The Whole of the Moon on the radio the other day and it still sounded fresh – can’t believe it was released in 1985! Mike Scott’s The Waterboys return with a 7-piece band, for the 2nd leg of their current UK tour following the release of their new critically-acclaimed double-album Out Of All This Blue.


Althorp Food Festival,  Northants, Saturday May 12 & Sun May 13

Well, la-de-dah! Could there be a more idyllic setting for Northamptonshire’s favourite annual food festival than Althorp House? A secluded foodie paradise under (hopefully) sunny skies, there’ll be a fair few of us flocking to the grounds of the Spencer family’s historic stately home for a gastronomic delight. Jot the dates down in your diary now before it slips your mind cos we guarantee (and we’ve been a few times), you won’t wanna miss this. Get your tickets here!

An invitation to the wedding of the year (no, not that one…) – The Wedding Reception, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Fri May  11

Packing 5-star reviews from London’s West End and Edinburgh Fringe, this immersive comedy is guaranteed to be nothing like the impending royal nuptials. The evening includes a sit-down meal and maybe even some dancing. The Wedding Reception sees Kate and Will expecting a small party to celebrate their wedding – but Kate’s mum has other plans. With uninvited guests, misbehaving family and secrets better left in the closet. Written and produced by Interactive Theatre International, the people behind Faulty Towers The Dining Experience – a show which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, 7pm.

Tickets cost £50 & include a three-course meal.  Box Office: 0121 236 4455, birmingham-rep

The Duchess of Malfi, The Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Aug 3

Pic credit: Helen Maybanks

After her inventive and critically-acclaimed production of Doctor Faustus in 2016, Maria Aberg returns to the RSC to direct a critically-acclaimed modern dress, blood-soaked version of The Duchess of Malfi in her own distinct style. Topically it’s all about gender politics and toxic masculinity.  Joan Iyiola stars as The Duchess, her twin brother Ferdinand is played by Alexander Cobb – Indian Summers (Channel 4) and Ripper Street (BBC) – and The Cardinal is Chris New, who was Glen in 2011 film, Weekend. Read Muddy’s Q & A with Joan here.

Tel: 01789 403493, rsc

John Piper, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Tues May 1 – June 21

John Piper – Interior of Coventry Cathedral, the morning after the Blitz, 1940

A major exhibition exploring the early career of British artist John Piper (1903-1992). Co-organised by Tate Liverpool, it features more than 40 many rarely seen items from private collections, including abstract and landscape paintings, collages, photographs and designs. Among the many highlights are one of two images painted by the artist depicting Coventry’s bombed cathedral the day after the tragic 1940 blitz, and also studies for his monumental stained glass windows for the city’s ‘new’ cathedral, consecrated in 1962.


The Fantastic Follies of Mrs RichSwan Theatre, Stratford, until June 14

Aretha Ayeh and Sophie Stanton as Lucinda and Mrs Rich. Photo by Helen Maybanks

A critical hit, this comedy of distinctly female wit has been described as like ‘a Restoration Ab-Fab’. Unlike Aphra Behn, a fellow female playwright from the late 1600’s, Mary Pix has been almost lost to history. But like Behn’s The Rover, an RSC hit early last year, Pix’s comedy of manners combines mind-bending plot twists and mischief.  Sophie’s also been in Ink (Almeida and West End), Made in Dagenham (West End), ITV’s The Halcyon, E4’s My Mad Fat Diary and the BBC’s New Tricks.

Book here

Foxfinder by Dawn King, Loft Theatre, Leamington Spa, Wed May 2 – Sat May 12

Man aiming a shotgun with three people looking frighted behind him

(Foreground) Craig Shelton (Samuel Covey) (Background left to right) Ed Statham (William Bloor), Charlotte Froud (Sarah Box) and Elisabeth Morris (Judith Covey). Photo by Richard Smith Photography

Showcasing the work of  new playwright, Dawn King the next Main House production is her multiple award winning play, Foxfinder. A futuristic Orwellian drama about the extinction of foxes and a farming family struggling to come to terms with the recent death of their young son.

The Loft Theatre, Victoria Colonnade, Leamington Spa,, or by calling 01926 800360 (answerphone service).

Macbeth, RST, Stratford, March 13 – September 18

Photo by Richard Davenport

This compelling contemporary version of Shakespeare’s darkest psychological thriller with the fantastic Christopher Eccleston, brilliant in BBC 1’s The A Word, and revered Irish actor Niamh Cusack as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and directed by Polly Findlay has the eerie feel of a modern horror film. Brilliant for students studying Macbeth on their GCSE or A level syllabus!

Book here.

Satirist Mitch Benn Warwick Arts Centre, Sat May 12 

The final date of the songwriting comic’s I’m Still Here tour, 8pm,

Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, Box Office: 024 7652 4524, warwickartscentre

An Exhibition by Eve Parnell, Hall’s Croft, Stratford-upon-Avon, May 4 – Nov 4

Escape the hustle and bustle of town and visit the lovely oasis of Hall’s Croft where you can enjoy a coffee and cake or a light lunch while admiring new exhibition, ‘Truth hath a quiet breast’ (Richard II Act I Sc III),  a series of drawings inspired by Hall’s Croft and Shakespeare.
Old Town, Stratford upon Avon, CV37 6BG, shakespeare
JungleO2 Institute, Birmingham, Sat May 12

It’s almost four years since modern British soul-pop collective Jungle’s self-titled debut. The seven-piece will be unveiling new material on their extensive tour featuring top support from Rae Morris and Tom Tripp. academymusicgroup

Unlocked! Behind the Scenes at Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, April 27 – July 15

Shining a spotlight on rarely displayed items and others that are undergoing conservation work. Discover the gallery’s most dangerous object, and view the oldest alongside the newest, the smallest and the heaviest items. Find out more about what goes on behind the scenes, how they plan for disasters and tackle the pests that like to eat artefacts. Learn the fascinating stories behind the objects on display and see the hidden sketch on the reverse of L.S. Lowry’s The Mission Room.


BOOK NOW: Rita Ora, O2 Academy, Birmingham, Wed May 16

Rita Ora is back. Be one of the first to see her new material ahead of her long awaited (six-years) second album.



Giffords Circus, Fennells Farm, Stroud, until Mon May 14

two women red velvet hats and jackets

Photography by Gemma Hall

The annual outing of England’s most glamorous and wonderfully quirky circus has come round again, kicking off at its Stroud home – where a spanking new big top has already gone up with Giffords in lights and sumptuous red velvet and chandelier interiors. The theme this year is My Beautiful Circus to celebrate 250 years since the very first circus near Westminster Bridge in London started the magic in 1768. After Stroud, the troupe head to Sudeley Castle from Thu 17 to Mon 21 May and Daylesford Organic Farm near Kingham from Thu 24 May to Mon 4 June. See full list of dates here.

Fashioned By Naturem V&A London, now – 27 Jan 2019

Model with bull skull wearing French embroidered waistcoat, black trousers, holding pheasant feathers – V&A Fashioned By Nature

Embroidered silk waistcoat, France, 1780-9. Image: Vee Speers © V&A

Love a tassel earring? How about the heads of two real Honeycreeper birds? Very fashionable in 1875, but a step too far for me. The V&A’s new exhibition Fashioned By Nature takes the idea of fashion victim to a new level in an exhibition that traces 400 years of fashion and its cost on the environment. Check out the dress embellished with beetle wings, Jean Paul Gaultier’s beaded leopard dress and innovative fabrics like Vegea’s Grape gown made from the waste in wine production. Permission to pour a large one. You’re drinking with a conscience.

Soushi Pop-Up Restaurant, The Garden Café, Miserden, Fri May 11

soushi rice green

Good looks and great tastes collide at the Soushi Miserden pop-ups. Expect another night of super fresh seafood inspired by classical Thai cooking in Gloucestershire’s most magical supper club setting, the 1920s greenhouse at Miserden.

Chipping Campden Literature Festival, until Sat 12 May

Lots to enjoy at this bijou lit fest, including award-winning poet and writer Fiona Sampson talking about her latest book In Search of Mary Shelley, which I listened to serialised on Radio 4 and was shocked by what she endured – as Sampson says, her story couldn’t be more relevant to the #MeToo generation. Also worth marking your pocketbook for is Sue Cook’s Big Book Group with author Carol Drinkwater discussing her novel The Lost Girl, the matinee screening of Picnic at Hanging Rock and the Letterpress Book Jacket Workshop.

The Design Museum, London, Thurs 10 May – Sun 7 Oct 

Fascinating exhibition of the sculptor turned couturier, Azzedine Alaïa, who found fans in Michelle Obama, Rhianna and Grace Jones, with his flair for couture and refusal to stick to fashion week deadlines.

Find more ideas here

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