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This weekend

Kenilworth Arts Festival, Thurs Sept 20 – Sat Sept 29

Billie Marten

Newly-wed GBBO finalist Ruby Tandoh, MOBO award-winning pianist Zoe Rahman and Man Booker Prize nominated Irish author Donal Ryan have been among the guests lined up for the third Kenilworth Arts Festival. Joining them on the eclectic 10-day bill are more than 40 acclaimed writers, musicians and artists including US songwriter Bon Iver associate S Carey this Saturday night whose growing fan base includes Sufjan Stevens and Taylor Swift supported by one of the UK’s finest young singer-songwriters Billie Marten, and the very best writers from the region such as Kit de Waal and Mike Gayle. 

Tickets range from £7 (for one-off events) to £45 (for a Literary Weekend Pass). For the full line-up, see: kenilworthartsfestival


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 here.



COMEDY: Rachel Parris: It’s Fun to Pretend, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa, Sat Sept 29

This is already sold out but check out for any returns if you fancy seeing The star of BBC 2’s surreal The Mash Report with Nish Kumar, present a comedy show packed with stand-up, song, sketch, and inevitably a sideways swipe at society. 8pm.



EVENT: The Cycle Show, NEC Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, Fri Sept 28 – Sun Sept 30

On yer bike! If you’re looking for something to keep kids and teens entertained this September, then how about the UK’s biggest national cycling showcase especially with Geraint Thomas winning the Tour de France this summer! It features more than 300 exhibitors, 500+ brands and the very latest in bikes and accessories – including the best kid’s bikes.  Take a lesson BMXing from the UK’s top ranked BMX pro and Flatland Champion Lee Musselwhite, test your skills on the two dedicated free-to-ride kids test tracks and meet some of the biggest names in cycling who’ll also be making guest appearances. If that’s not enough, why not watch some gravity-defying stunts at the Extreme Bike Battle show.

Full event schedule and further information available here,


BALLET: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s First Steps, Birmingham Hippodrome, Fri Sept 28

Want to bring your child or grand-child to their first ballet? They can experience a 60-minute interactive show specially adapted for children aged 3 to 7, featuring ballet excerpts from La Fille mal gardee, performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s dancers and orchestra. Time: 1pm.



THEATRE: Evita,  Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Tue Sept 25 – Sat Sept 29

Another West End colossus arrives later in the month with Bill Kenright’s production of Evita, starring Lucy O’Bryne (who has the Sound of Music and Les Mis on her CV). Both Swan Lake (below) and Evita are bound to be sell-outs so get booking.

Tel: 024 7655 3055, belgrade


DANCE: Fagin’s Twist, Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick University campus, Coventry, Fri Sept 28 & Sat Sept 29

Pic credit Rachel Cherry

Fagin’s Twist is the critically-acclaimed untold story of Charles Dickens’ notorious and complex Victorian villain told in a new light by risk-taking London-based Avant Garde Dance in 1hr 40 mins for ages 8+.  The narrative tells the story of Fagin and Bill Sykes’ childhood, imagining how it may have resembled Oliver’s. Avant Garde Dance flips your expectations of five familiar characters, with their unmatched contemporary hip hop style.



TALK: Jason Donovan & his Amazing Midlife Crisis, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington, Sept 27 & Thurs Oct 4, The Albany Theatre, Coventry

Especially for you, Jason Donovan is loitering with intent in our ‘hood. Celebrating his 50th birthday, the Australian cheesemeister we all secretly love is sharing a whole load of funny and insightful stories from his career spanning Neighbours, Joseph, I’m a Celebrity and Strictly , all interspersed with some musical faves. We’re told a certain Ms Minogue will get a mention or two as well. Can’t wait!

Albany Theatre Box Office: 02476 99 89 64 (open 10.30 – 13.30 Monday to Saturday),


BURLESQUE: Hundred Watt Club, The Assembly, Leamington Spa, Fri Sept 28

Showcasing  glittering showgirls, rib tickling vaudeville acts and quirky circus stars including military trained, ukulele wielding chanteuse Eva Von Schnippish!



THEATRE: Mischief Festival October, Studio Theatre@The Other Place, Stratford, Thurs Sept 27 – Oct 20

Older man in glasses, plaid shirt and jacket sitting at a table

David Edgar in rehearsal for A Christmas Carol, 2017, Photo by Manuel Harlan (c) RSC

A new version of David Edgar’s 1983 award-winning hit play, Maydays, directed by Owen Horsley and three performances of his one-person show Trying It On in which the 70-year-old actor/playwright confronts his 20-year-old self.



THEATRE: New Nigerians,  The REP, Birmingham, Tues Sept 25 – Sat Sept 29

Rosamunde Hutt’s side-splitting production arrives in Birmingham for six performances only. A satire on the state of populism in our politics, New Nigerians is the hit new comedy from Oladipo Agboluaje (winner of the Alfred Fagon award for playwriting). It follows a sell-out run at London’s Arcola Theatre. As time runs out to build a coalition, can Greatness Ogholi win power without losing his integrity? Could this be the beginning of a new Nigeria?


THEATRE: Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until  Dec 1

Jude Owusu as the king of Persia, Tamburlaine Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC

Watch Jude Owusu’s chillingly charismatic portrait of Christopher Marlowe’s violent 14th century warlord, who started life as a shepherd, before conquering Asia. Directed by former RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd, who stepped down in 2012. A big critical hit.



BALLET: La Fille Mal Gardee, Birmingham Hippodrome, Wed Sept 26 – Sat Sept 29

La Fille mal gardée (The Wayward Daughter) mixes spectacular classical ballet with slick comedy, a clog-dancing dame and a super-cute pony. Frederick Ashton’s comic country production features some of his most brilliant choreography.



ART: Journeys with The Waste Land, The Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry, Opens: Sept 15 – Sun Nov 18

John Stezaker Mask CCV, 2016 © John Stezaker. Courtesy The Approach, London. Photo: FXP photography.

This exhibition explores the contemporary significance of TS Eliot’s seminal poem written in 1921 in the aftermath of the First World War and the way it has resonated with artists over the years. An extension of the exhibition continues in Coventry Cathedral with John Newling’s ‘Eliot’s Notebooks and Eliot’s soil’. It’s been led by independent curator, Michael Tooby, and organised in collaboration with Turner Contemporary in Margate, by the Mead Gallery and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in association with Coventry Cathedral.



TOP FILM CHOICE: BlacKkKlansman, out in cinemas now

John David Washington stars as Ron Stallworth and Laura Harrier as Patrice in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, a Focus Features release. Credit: David Lee / Focus Features

Spike Lee returns with this humorous, nostalgic 70s period piece based on the memoir of black police officer Ron Stallworth’s memoir about his experiences infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan – and a damning portrait of the USA under Trump.

ART: ENDS THIS WEEK! The Marvellous Mechanical Museum & Rodney Peppé’s World of Invention, Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park, until Sun Sept 30


A rare opportunity to see an exhibition devoted to kinetic art and the history of automata. Almost 60 works, dating from 1625 to the present day, will – quite literally – come to life before your very eyes. The show includes loans from across the UK, including the smallest – a 4cm tall Fabergé elephant loaned from the Queen and the largest – the 15-metre long A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang designer Rowland Emett. You can also enter the magical world of mechanical toy model maker and children’s author/ illustrator Rodney Peppe.



ART: Conscious Perception by Susan Laughton & Richard Miller, The Stratford Gallery, launching Sat Sept 8 – Oct 4

New Work: Susan Laughton, Balancing act II, 2018

An exhibition of new work by two award-winning artists. Architectural technician turned painter Susan Laughton and accomplished potter Richard Miller, the on-screen technician in BBC’s Great Pottery Throw Down.


Birmingham Black History Month Launch, Town Hall, Tues Sept 25 

An impressive line-up of speakers, performers and artists including Musical Youth and Basil Gabbidon Band (former members of Steel Pulse). Tonia Daley-Campbell ‘s play Dr King The Aftermath, depicts the legacy of Martin Luther King Jnr and asks the question how far have we come in terms of equal rights and social justice? Free.




AFROBEATS MUSICAL:  Olivia Tweest, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Thurs Oct 4 – Sat Oct 6

Latisha Antoine playing the roles of Testimony and Joanna

The UK’s first ever Afrobeats musical  returns to the stage after sell-out runs in London in 2013-14 starring award-winning actor, comedian and media personality Eddie Kadi, Let It Shine star Clinton Elvis plus Latisha Antoine, who has performed with Leona Lewis at the Royal Albert Hall and as part of BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend Festival. Created, produced and directed by radio presenter and producer Yinka Ayinde (aka PureYinkz), Oliva Tweest tells the story of London hustler, club promoter and gyalis (ladies’ man) Tobi as he attempts to stage the ultimate concert in the hopes of attracting his hero, D’Banj.

Tel: 024 7655 3055,


GIG: Anna Calvi, Town Hall, Birmingham, Thurs Oct 4

The BRIT award and double Mercury Music Prize-nominated Twickenham-born singer has the most amazing voice. Hunter, her third album came out on August 312018 via Domino.



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. Another West End colossus arrives later in the month with Bill Kenright’s production of Evita, starring Lucy O’Bryne (who has the Sound of Music and Les Mis on her CV).



GIG: Jack White, O2 Academy Birmingham, Wed Oct 17

After string of electrifying, but intimate live shows earlier this year, the super-cool former White Stripes front-man is back and he’s bringing his full band and hugely successful new album, Boarding House Reach along for the ride.


TALK: Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends, The Royal Albert Hall, London, Sat Dec 1

Tickets for Rob Lowe’s live show go on sale this Friday and are bound to sell out fast (as they have in the States). Inspired by his memoirs of the same name and his previous book Love Life, Mr Lowe will spill the beans on a career from the Brat Pack to The West Wing to Parks and Rec and beyond. Apparently, he’s quite the raconteur with loads of witty anecdotes that touch on his career, fame, Hollywood, fatherhood and marriage.


THEATRE: The Wider Earth, The Natural History Museum, London Tues Oct 2 – Sun 30 Dec

Exciting news – there’s a theatre being opened in the Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum for the European premiere of award-winning drama The Wider Earth, a play about the young Charles Darwin. Puppets, an original score and cinematic animations make this theatrical event a great draw for kids plus they’ll learn a helluva lot in the process.



THEATRE: Antony & Cleopatra, National Theatre, London, Tues 18 Sep – Wed 19 Jan 2019

Super thesps Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo, star in Shakespeare’s tale of ill-fated lovers in war torn Ancient Rome and Egypt. With celebrated director Simon Goodwin in charge (who even took a trip to Egypt to consider how the country might differ in our imaginations from that of Shakespeare’s day) and award-winning designer Hildegard Bechtler, it’s shaping up to be a special theatrical event.


ART: Spellbound Exhibition, on now, and Baby Asmoles, Fri 14 Sep at The Ashmolean

Two metal shaped hearts

Human heart encased in lead

The spine-tingling exhibition Spellbound: Magic, Ritual & Witchcraft (see our review here) is on now and is a real must-see. It’s creepy, fascinating and surprisingly moving, especially the exhibits about witchcraft. Not really one for kids so if you have a little one, you could pop along to one of their Baby Ashmoles events. The next one’s this Friday where you can visit the galleries to learn all about 18th Century art with sensory play and singing for the babies. Let’s face it, it’s a heck of a lot more civilized than a the soft play centre.


An Evening with Grayson Perry, Jay Rayner, Gareth Malone and Rachel Tucker, New Theatre Oxford, Mon 24 Sep

grayson perry artist contemporary art ceramics cross-dressing man make-up

Never say Muddy doesn’t find you the unusual… Start your evening with restaurant critic Jay Rayner telling tales of dining hell and bad reviews, followed by West End leading lady Rachel Tucker singing songs with choir man Gareth Malone. Quick G&T in the interval before listening to artist and author Grayson Perry discussing cultural division in the world of Brexit and Trump. All proceeds go to charity.


THEATRE: Heathers, the Musical, Theatre Royal Haymarket, London, Mon 2 Sep – 24 Nov

Remember the 80s cult classic film Heathers starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater? Thank goodness social media wasn’t around then. Heathers The Musical, a comic rock extravaganza, has already enjoyed sell-out runs and is now hitting the West End. Carrie Hope Fletcher stars as Veronica Sawyers, who takes the quest for high school popularity to new extremes.


ART: Future Knowledge Exhibition, Modern Art Oxford, now until Sat 28 Oct

This exhibition explores climate change through creative presentations. It’s a truly international affair with an epic timeline stretching back 750 million years by American artist Rachel Susan, Eline McGeorge’s weaving works from Norway, and Brit Tania Kovats’ vast steel and salt sculptures, to name but a few. I’m liking the sound of Lucy Kimbell’s wallpaper that changes colour over time in response to air pollutants – might save a trip to Homebase.

Find more ideas here

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