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What’s On This Week



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

Matthew Bourne’s menacing, witty and unique production of Swan Lake has 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: SOLO Fest, Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry, Mon Feb 4 – Thu Feb 7

Man on the Moon,

SOLO Fest is a 4-day festival showcasing theatre shows by three hugely talented solo performers. A Hundred Words for Snow by Tatty Hennessy, is a neatly layered touching one-woman show about grief and growing up, performed by Gemma Barnett; while Man on the Moon, is a poetic, ‘touchingly funny, arrestingly relevant’ exploration of fatherhood within the Black British experience, written and performed by Keisha Thompson. Finally, I Wish I Was a Mountain, is a joyful new one-man show for young audiences based on Herman Hesse’s fairy tale, ‘Faldum’ written and performed by young London-based performance poet Toby Thompson from Bath. Audiences can see two shows each evening, along with FREE pop-up performances by local artists, and post-show gossip events.


See all SOLO Fest shows with a Festival Pass £20 (£18); one night of SOLO Fest shows for £16 (£13) or see any SOLO Fest show for £9 (£7), warwickartscentre


SPOKEN WORD: Tracey Thorn: Another Planet, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Mon Feb 4

Photo by Edward Bishop

The Everything but the Girl lead singer nails the angst of suburban teenage life perfectly in her latest book. She’ll be interviewed by Emma Kennedy, 7.30pm, thsh


THEATRE: Octopus Soup! Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Sat Feb 2 – Sat Feb 15

Room 101 host Nick Hancock plays Seymour, a down-on-his-luck insurance consultant hoping to turn his career around with an important conference call, in this second play by comedy writer and director Jack Milner (The Mummy, 2014), co-written with Mark Stevenson. A modern farce it also stars Warwickshire native Paul Bradley, who played Nigel Bates in EastEnders and Elliot Hope in Holby City; former RSC actor Gillian Bevan (Maydays  and Cymbeline at the RSC; the head Claire Hunter in award-winning Channel 4 drama Teachers and Theresa May in The Windsors also for Channel 4), Carolyn Backhouse; and Eric Richard, who played Desk Sergeant Bob Cryer in The Bill for 17 years.  Tel: 024 7655 3055, belgrade


OUTDOORS: Short walk from Upton Housenr Gaydon & Banbury, Mon Feb 4

Courtesy of Upton House & The National Trust

Join an experienced guide for a short easy walk, 2.3 miles starting from the Upton House and Gardens main car park from 10am – 12noon, nationaltrust
THEATRE: Timon of Athens, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 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. rsc


Chinese New Year’s Special,  Symphony Hall foyer, Birmingham, Tue Feb 5

International pianist Di Xiao

To celebrate the Chinese New Year’s day and welcome the year of Pig, join musicians Di Xiao (pianist), Jiaxin Cheng lloyd Webber (cello), Shuai Zhao (face changing artist) and dancer Du Dan for an afternoon concert that captures the anticipation of the Chinese Spring festival and includes a rare opportunity to see Sichuan face changing opera techniques – there are only around 200 face-changing artists who can perform this traditional art form in the whole of China. FREE! 5pm,


MUSIC: Chvrches, O2 Academy, Birmingham, Fri Feb 8

Photo by Danny Clinch

The Scottish indie-pop band (Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty) are starting 2019 with a headline tour after the acclaimed release of their excellent third Top 10 album, Love Is Dead prior to their appearance at this year’s Coachella festival and US tour.


COMEDY: Andrew Lawrence: Clean, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington, Fri Feb 8

Described by The Spectator as “Superbly intelligent, highly articulate and deeply sour” Andrew Lawrence, who’s appeared on Live at The Apollo and Michael McIntyre’s Roadshow takes a break from all the controversy in this new show. No politics. No religion. No smut. No swearing,


COMEDY: Lucy Porter, Pass It On, Warwick Arts Centre, Sun Feb 10

You’d better be quick if you fancy going to see TV fave Lucy, as there’s limited availability! The warm and witty stand-up muses on what we receive from our ancestors and what we pass on to future generations. Lucy inherited dodgy knees and global warming from her parents. Can she leave a better legacy for her children?  8pm, warwickartscentre


FILM: Colette (15), Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa, Sun Feb 10 – 13 (including a parent and baby screening on Feb 12)

Keira Knightley and Eleanor Tomlinson as Georgie Raoul-Duval in COLETTE. Photo credit: Robert Viglasky / Bleecker Street

Director Wash Westmoreland’s (Still Alice) illuminating, glamorous biopic of Parisian writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette stars Keira Knightly and Dominic West on top form, warwickdc


YOGAThe Tin Music and Arts, Units 1 – 4, The Canal Basin, Coventry, every Tues and Thurs throughout Feb

As January comes to an end, the winter blues should be starting to fade but with snow on the way and more cold weather to come, sometimes you need a little extra help to get you through the season. The Tin Music and Arts are holding 1hr 20-minute yoga classes between 6.30-9.30pm, £5, thetinmusicandarts


MASTERCLASS: The Principles of Garden Design, Warwick Arts Centre, Sun Feb 10

A lively all-day session  run by top Oxfordshire garden designer James Alexander-Sinclair, who has designed show gardens at both the Chelsea Flower Show and the Westonbirt International Festival of the Garden, and writes monthly columns in Gardeners World Magazine, 10am – 5pm, https://www.warwickartscentre

HERITAGE: Packwood House breakfast tours, Lapworth, Feb 7 – 28

One of the bedrooms at Packwood House. Courtesy of The National Trust

Head over to this for a delicious breakfast at 9.30am followed by an exclusive tour of the house and attic spaces displayed just as Baron Ash intended his guests to view the house. You’ll hear the stories behind key pieces of the Packwood collection. Ends at 11am, nationaltrust

SHOPPING: Valentine Gift Fair, Market Hall Museum, Market Pl, Warwick, Feb 9

Who is your valentine this February? Whether you are looking for a gift for your partner, friend or even yourself the Valentine Gift Fair at the Market Hall Museum is sure to offer some quirky, unique options. Browse stalls throughout the museum between 10am-5pm and get that gift sorted for Valentine’s Day. Free entry.


About Time, Warwick Arts Centre, Fri Feb 8 & Sat Feb 9
Theatre, dance, psychology, and philosophy combine forces to grapple with the puzzle of time, introduced by experts Professor Christoph Hoerl (University of Warwick) and Professor Teresa McCormack (Queen’s University Belfast). In an evening of ‘time-based art’ performances, artists from Big Telly Theatre Company (Portstewart), Bbeyond Performance Art (Belfast), and Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company (Derry-Londonderry) explore what it means to exist in a time-bound world.

ART: A Sculpture Inspired by ShakespeareShakespeare’s New Place, Chapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat Feb 9

His Mind’s Eye sculpture. New Place at Night photo by Steve Writtle

Join one of London’s most innovative sculptors, Johannesburg-born Jill Berelowitz, at 11am as she shares how Shakespeare inspired her to create the brilliant His Mind’s Eye, at Shakespeare’s New Place, and listen as she explains how the tree was moulded to create something which stands at nearly 5 metres high, shakespeare


ART: Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Fri Feb 1 – May 6

Leonardo da Vinci, The head of an old bearded man, c.1517-18 RCIN 912499

12 of the Renaissance master’s drawings from the Royal Collection will be displayed at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, as part of 12 simultaneous exhibitions across the UK to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. Revered in his day as a painter, Leonardo completed only around 20 paintings; he was respected as a sculptor and architect, but no sculpture or buildings by him survive. Drawings on display will include the Head of an Old Bearded Man (c.1517-18), and A Map of the Valdichiana (c.1503-4). Free, birminghammuseums


MUSIC & LIVE ART: The Lost Words – Spell Songs, Birmingham Town Hall, Sat Feb 9
Eight musicians will come together to breathe music into the stunning best-selling children’s poetry book – The Lost Words, A Spell Book by writer Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by artist Jackie Morris, the subject of a recent major exhibition at Warwickshire’s Compton Verney. The concert will feature Karine Polwart, Julie Fowlis, Kris Drever, Seckou Keita, Rachel Newton, Kerry Andrew, Beth Porter and Jim Molyneux, as well as live painting by Jackie Morris, thsh
ART: Forward: New Art From Birmingham, Ikon Off-site at Medicine Bakery and Gallery, on now until March 24

Tereza-Buskova-Beheading-of-the-Cockerel-2009-courtesy-the-artist-Photo credit: Ikon Gallery, Birmingham,

A group exhibition proving just how Birmingham’s artistic community is thriving. It features work by 28 artists living and working in the city, highlighting the depth and vitality of a wide range of practices, including this piece by Tereza Buskova, a UK-based Czech artist, who re-interprets Slavic rituals, traditions and customs with performance, print & video. Taking place in Medicine, the old gallery space of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, from which sprang the young generation that founded Ikon more than 50 years ago,


EXHIBITION: Peter Rabbit: Mischief and Mayhem, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, until April 27

This exhibition tells the story of the creation of Beatrix Potter’s most famous story character. It includes original, rarely exhibited artworks and manuscripts. Younger children will enjoy the activity play room where they can help Mrs Tiggy-Winkle hang up the laundry, plant carrots in Mr. McGregor’s garden, visit Mrs. Rabbit in her burrow or curl up with one of the books in the story corner. A Peter Rabbit themed spring activity family programme runs through to Easter. See here for the full spring programme.


FASHION: Celebrating China pop-up boutique, Bicester Village, now until Sun 17 Feb

Curated by fashion influencer Susie Bubble, this pop-up boutique of ten cutting-edge Chinese designers is opening to celebrate Chinese New Year. It includes rising stars Ryan Lo, Mukzin and I Am Chen and with Chinese designers starting to make their mark on catwalks around the world it’s definitely worth checking out what they have to offer.


FILM: A Private War, out in cinemas Feb 8

Courtesy of Paul Conroy/ Aviron Pictures

The late Marie Colvin, a respected Sunday Times war correspondent killed in Syria in 2012, is the subject of new biopic A Private War starring Rosamund Pike, with Jamie Dornan as her photographer colleague.


FILM: Can you ever Forgive Me? (15) out in cinemas from Fri Feb 1

Melissa McCarthy, is Oscar nominated for her turn as Lee Israel, a failing writer making money selling forged celebrity letters in this amusing true-crime bleak comedy with Richard E Grant – also Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actor – reliving his Withnail & I days as her drinking buddy.



NEW HOTEL: Hotel Indigo, Stratford-upon-Avon, opens Thur Feb 28

This restored 93-room boutique hotel, formerly The Falcon Hotel, will open its doors at the end of Jan and officially open on Thursday February 28, after a multi-million pound major restoration project.  The Grade 2 listed historic building, which dates to the 16th century, has been painstakingly restored over an 18-month period and is the biggest refurbishment in the hotel’s long history. Mike Robinson, who owns London’s only Michelin starred pub, The Harwood Arms, is bringing the best of British seasonal ingredients to Stratford at the new Woodman Restaurant, including wild deer and game from the Cotswolds.

Check out the latest news on:,, and



ART: Jeff Koons at The Ashmolean, Oxford, Thurs Feb 7 – Sun Jun 9 & Gin Tasting with Private View, Wed Feb 13

King of kitsch, Jeff Koons is curating his own exhibition in collaboration with Norman Rosenthal. Spanning Koons’ entire career and showcasing seventeen works, most of which have never been shown in the UK before, the show will include his popular series Equilibrium, Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and his recent Gazing Ball sculptures and paintings. See his shouty, shiny, ultra-contemporary sculptures against the elegant, sedate backdrop of the oldest public museum in the UK. This is going to be a popular exhibition but you can see it without the crowds at the Love Your Gin event on Wed Feb 13.


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: Pinter at the Pinter: A Slight Ache & The Dumb Waiter, The Harold Pinter Theatre, London, until Feb 23

This critically-acclaimed celebrity-packed season ends with two unmissable comedies exploring the political machinations of the powerful and powerless…starring Martin Freeman, Danny Dyer, John Heffernan and Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones), who attended King’s High, Warwick. Free Q&A with the cast on Tue Feb 12.



ART: Ruskin 200 Drawing Weekend, Museum of Natural History, Oxford, Sat Feb 9 – Sun Feb 10 

Launching its Ruskin 200 Drawing Competition, the museum is bringing in artists and laying on free materials for the artistically inclined to get creative, using the museum’s collections and the buildings as inspiration to celebrate 200 years of John Ruskin.


EXHIBITION: An Earthly Paradise: William Morris & the Thames, River & Rowing Museum, Fri Feb 1 – Sun July 14

This exhibition’s focus is on how the Thames and its tributaries influenced William Morris’ work. He had a rural retreat in Oxon and enjoyed angling and boating and the influence of the river can be seen in his textiles and designs. Pieces have been collated from the V&A, The William Morris Gallery and the British Library to make this exhibition possible and it also delves into Morris personal life and his politics so you get a sense of the man as well as his iconic work.


EXHIBITION: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, until Sun July 14

Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri (b. 1964), Éventail de vos hasards, Dress, Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 2018. Dior Héritage collection, Paris

This is going to be maaassive! The V&A is showing the largest House of Dior exhibition ever staged in the UK, tracing the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him. The exhibition is based on the major exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve, organised by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, and there will be a new section exploring Dior’s fascination with British culture. A highlight will be the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, on loan from the Museum of London.


THEATRE: When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Ourselves, the National Theatre, London, until 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: Penny Woolcock, Fantastic Cities, Modern Art Oxford, until Sun March 3

Put this super-cool exhibition celebrating the work of contemporary artist and director, Penny Woolcock, whose work unpicks social inequality on your must-see list. Argentine-born but Oxford-based for many years, Woolcock has won many awards for her diverse range of work from film, opera, documentaries and art projects. This exhibition includes three brand new moving-image commissions exploring how dramatically different peoples’ lives can be within the same city. A real thought-provoker, but don’t take the kids as there’s a bit of what my mother primly calls ‘language’.

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