Joyous Jan! What to do in Berks this month
Banish the January blues with this culture-buster list of things to do in Berkshire this month. From beautiful ballet to gothic puppetry and Kevin Clifton's cod liver oiled hips, here's Muddy's hit list.
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
Cinderella: Russian State Ballet of Siberia, The Hexagon Reading, 31 Jan
Three of the world’s most famous ballets (and impressive Russian touring ballet company) are coming to Reading this month. Expect hauntingly familiar scores, stunning choreography (and bums — sorry, we know that’s not the point), a sea of tulle and the whole Russian shebang with full orchestra. See Moscow City Ballet’s Cinderella on 31 Jan, followed by Romeo and Juliet on 1 Feb and Swan Lake on 2 Feb at The Hexagon Theatre in Reading.
STAGE AND SCREEN
Ruby Wax: And Now For The Good News, The Old Court Windsor, 18 Jan
I was never really a fan of Ruby Wax as a stand up, but when she went public with her depression and used her talent to talk about mental health, I had a new-found respect. And Now For The Good News gives a positive roadmap for a kinder, brighter world and better mental wellbeing. Personal experience and an Oxford psychology graduate, she knows her stuff.
ROH Live: Tosca, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 14 and 19 Jan; South Hill Park Bracknell, 19 Jan
Drama bomb! It’s hard to believe ROH Live wasn’t a product of the pandemic. But no, the opportunity to see world class opera without schlepping into London and selling a kidney for a ticket has been going in for a while. See political thriller Tosca on the big screen at South Hill Park – we can guarantee there won’t be a wine and cheese work meeting.
Frankenstein, South Hill Park Bracknell, 27-29 Jan
A fresh, exciting take on the classic gothic horror Frankenstein. Don’t miss this thrilling adaptation of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, fusing storytelling, live music, puppetry and stunning theatricality. A revival of Blackeyed Theatre’s masterfully constructed 2016 production.
The Screen, The Old Court Windsor, 6-30 Jan
Ooh, a cinematic experience with an arthouse vibe, The Old Court in Windsor is the place to be. On the movie reel this month you can see The French Dispatch (6-8 Jan) – a love letter to journalists in a fictional 20th century French city. Last Night in Soho (7-16 Jan); Eternals (13-22 Jan); King Richard (20-21 Jan) – the story of tennis legends the Williams sisters starring Will Smith and Steven Spielberg’s critically acclaimed West Side Story (23-30 Jan).
SPIKE, The Watermill Theatre Bagnor, 27 Jan – 5 Mar
I think we could all do with a laugh right now. SPIKE – the funny new play by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman – could be the show to save our sense of humour. as it delves into the inner workings of Spike Milligan one of our most unique and brilliantly irreverent comedy minds.
Kevin Clifton: Burn The Floor, The Hexagon Reading, 29 Jan
Put the fire brigade on standby because Kev Clifton is getting ready to rumba, cha-cha, foxtrot and tango, when he takes to the Reading stage. His Hugely popular Burn The Floor production will scratch that Strictly itch we’ve been missing.
Flo & Joan: Work In Progress, South Street Arts Reading, 21 Jan
Welcome my comedy guinea pigs. This is music and comedy packed in one side-splitting work in progress show. Flo and Joan are the absolute queens of observational comedy presented through the medium of song. Expect dark, witty songs with deadpan delivery and cracking lyrics.
Queen Extravaganza, The Hexagon Reading, 15 Jan
Want to break free from the January Blues? May I prescribe a night at Queen Extravaganza, the official Queen tribute band produced by Roger Taylor and Brian May. This 90-minute show features more than 20 Queen classics including Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions, Radio Ga Ga and Somebody to Love.
The Vinyl Frontier 2022 Album Championships, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 14 Jan
It’s the vinyl countdown: eight contestants bring their fave LP to battle it out to be crowned 2022 Vinyl Frontier Album Champion. The audience chooses the winner of each round. Come and have a go if you think you’re muso enough.
Penelope Isles, Face Bar Reading, 28 Jan
Love your live music dripping with pop, indie-psych currents and lustrous melodies? Don’t midd Brother and sister duo Penelope Isles at Face Bar in Reading. These guys put on excellent live shows.
Decoding Braille, Decoding Me, The Base Greenham, 7-30 Jan
Artist Clarke Reynolds turns the tactile form of braille into a visual art form. The Portsmouth based artist is registered severely sight impaired and this is a stunning self-portrait in braille. Using a colour-coded system, he has created a visual guide to learn braille. With a ‘decoder’, visitors can explore and translate the canvases on display through sight and touch.
Exhibition On Screen: The Danish Collector, South Hill Park Bracknell, 10 Jan and Corn Exchange Newbury, 16 Jan
Some collectors we recognise and some we don’t, but Danish businessman Wilhelm Hansen amassed a some of the best examples of 19th century French art EVER. Exhibition on Screen tells his fascinating story and, with exclusive access to a sellout exhibition at London’s Royal Academy, bringing the extraordinary collection to the big-screen in glorious high-definition.
Mind & Mortality: Stanley Spencer’s Final Portraits, Stanley Spencer Gallery Cookham, now – 27 Mar 2022
Comprised of 26 works, the exhibition spans 50 years from 1909 until the artist’s death on the eve of the 1960s. Although more famous for his local landscapes, his portraits are world class – in fact one on his first self portraits hangs in the Tate Britain.
Candlelight Sound Bath, The Good Life Hub Hampstead Norreys, 5 Jan
And breeeeeeathe… Christmas is chaotic, not it’s time to put you first. Take time out and enjoy a a Candlight Sound Bath at the heavenly Good Life Hub. It’s an unforgettable experience for anyone who seeks deep relaxation, rejuvenation and an acceleration of their inward journey. I’m game if you are. £22.15pp.
Windsor Winter Series, Dorney Lake Eton, 8 Jan
If you’re on of those smug people who has managed to keep on running despite the wine and cheese tempting you to fall off the wagon – good on you. You might be interested in shifting any unwanted Crimbo pounds with an easy peasy 5km-20km weekend jog. If you like to mix things up, there’s a Duathlon too. I’ll see you at the start line… one day.
Floral Design for Beginners, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 12 Jan – 16 Feb
Missing your decked out house already? This Floral design course for beginners is led by florist Kim Wright. Kim will show you how to prepare flowers and foliage, create gifts and how to decorate a party, home or just for a pleasure. You will also receive valuable insights on buying flowers, foliage and sundries on the wholesale market.
Wim Hof Method Fundamentals Workshop, The Good Life Hub Hampstead Norreys, 22 Jan
This workshop is cooler than a polar bear’s paw… literally. Cold Therapy has a ton of health benefits: reduces stress, increased energy, better sleep, heightened focus and more more more. What do you have to do to achieve it? Embrace nature, the cold, commit and breathe. The Wim Hof Method gives you the tools for a happier healthier life. The ice bath is optional. Eek.
Instant Pause, The Good Life Hub Hampstead Norreys, 29 Jan
If you’re busy being busy, the Instant Pause is the perfect pit stop for you!
It’s a one day retreat that gives you time and space to think about you and your life. Reflect on the past, set goals for the year ahead and give yourself head space to think. £129pp.
Clarence House Chase Raceday, Ascot Racecourse, 22 Jan
Love a day at the races but can’t wait for Royal Ascot? Saddle up for a January raceday with a little less pomp and ceremony (ok a lot less), but the fashion is fabulous (coats, faux fur and boots) and you can have a little flutter to spend on the totally unnecessary shoes you have seen in the sales.
Beauty & The Beast, The Hexagon Theatre Reading, now – 3 Jan
CBeebies demigod, Justin Fletcher and award-winning Dame, Paul Morse return to the Reading stage as Billy and Nanny Pastry in the Covid postponed Beauty And The Beast. Join Lumière and his pottery pals for a spin round the Beast’s ballroom and enjoy the sizzling on stage chemistry between Justin and Paul. Oh no you won’t! Oh yes you… (sorry, I’ll stop).
Christmas At Windsor, Windsor Castle, now – 31 Jan
Something a little spesh at Windsor Castle. For the first time you can see the Queen and Princess Margaret’s panto costumes in the same spot they were originally performed 80 years ago.
Lights & Liminality, Basildon Park Pangbourne, now – 5 Jan
Basildon Park is blinged out for festive fun. This year, the house has a nature theme inside and out with lots of sensory surprises. The Dining Room has been transformed into an indoor terrarium, walks are lit by fairy lights and the smell of dried oranges and cinnamon will fill the house. So crack open the Black Tower, pass the nuts, and introduce your kids to life before Netflix. Basildon Park is also running after dark candlelit tours on the 3 and 10 Dec.
Cinderella, Corn Exchange Newbury, now – 2 Jan
Can’t stand Z-list pantos? The Corn Exchange continues its policy of not bothering with the soap star brigade, with its in-house panto. Watch Cinderella outwit the wicked Step Mother and her Ugly Sisters to find her Prince Charming and generally have a rip-roaring time. You can also see Cinderella ‘as live’ from your living room from now until 30 Dec.
Windsor Great Park Illuminated, Windsor, Berks, now – 9 Jan
Christmas is coming and Windsor Great Park’s inaugural illuminated trail is the one to book. The trail, produced by guys behind Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, will feature a field of lights that will extend more than 1,400 sqm, fountains of projected flowers and holograms of woodland creatures. Prepare to be dazzled. Open from 4.30pm-10pm. Tickets: Adults £21.45, Child, £13.20 and Family £74.80.
Cinderella, South Hill Park Bracknell, now – 3 Jan 2022
You shall go to the ball… or failing that the panto. There’s a reason why families return year after year to South Hill Park in Bracknell. Expect all the cheesy one liners, toe tapping songs and a jaw-dropping set.
Garter Tower Illuminations, Windsor Castle, now – 6 Jan
Light ’em up! With the permission of the Queen (or orf with your head) the world’s most recognised castle provides the backdrop for Windsor’s daily spectacular of illuminations. Standing over 50ft high, Garter Tower is projected with images of the stained glass architecture and motifs from St George’s Chapel dating back to the 15th century and images provided by local schools in Windsor.
Jack And The Beanstalk, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – 14 Jan
Filed under ‘classic cheesefest’, this year the Theatre Royal’s panto is Jack And The Beanstalk. Windsor’s favourite comedy duo, Kevin Cruise and Steven Blakeley have been dusting off the panto patter and old pros Anita Harris and Basil Brush add a dash of nostalgia. It’s a great panto in a beautiful theatre. Booooom booooooom!