9 fun things to do or book this week (1-8 Feb)

Phew! January’s done and now we can really get our 2017 mojo. Whether you fancy a night of cocktails and clubbing, circus stunts or Shakespeare, we’ve got it all going on in Berks and beyond…

Bolshoi Encore Swan Lake, Corn Exchange Newbury, Sun 5 Feb

Toes pointed, arms extended and plié… Who am a kidding? Assume the coach potato slump, grab the Maltesers and watch the pros do their deliciously funky thing. Swan Lake is a classic and no one does it better than the Bolshoi. I was lucky enough to see the Bolshoi’s Swan Lake at the ROH a few years ago and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. It’s beautiful, natch, but the precision of the corps de ballet is simply jaw-dropping. Thanks to these brilliant cinematic recordings, you can pop along to the Corn Exchange Newbury this weekend and be spellbound by principal dancers Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Rodkin as they bring Swan Lake to life. Tickets £14.50.

Corn Exchange Newbury, cornexchangenew.com

 

Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park, now until Sun 5 Feb  

Something wicked this way comes… and it’s not a hoody wearing yoof giving you attitude (just my kids then). If you love your theatre dark and dramatic, this is the show for you. Shakespeare’s Macbeth is South Hill Park’s first community project for 2017. It promises to whisk us off to the ravaged Highlands of medieval Scotland for more blood, violence and trouble than an SNP party conference. It’s real edge-of-your-seat stuff, so as a whopping 2hrs 45mins, it could get a bit uncomfortable. Tickets £17.

Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Ringmead, Bracknell, southhillpark.org.uk   

 

Jersey Pearl, Coworth Park, Ascot, Weds 8 Feb

Pearls are hot stuff. Banish those twee images of twinsets – think Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor, Rhianna, Sarah Jessica Parker. What do they have in common? They’re stylish, sassy and have all rocked ropes. Coco Chanel loved pearls – ‘A woman needs roped and ropes of pearls’ – and wore them with everything. If you love them too and want to learn more about them or just gawp at their beauty, join aficionado Mike Taylor, who runs Jersey Pearl, at Coworth Park. Mike, who recently opened Jersey Pearl’s first UK store in Windsor, will talk about what makes these organic gems special and much more. The event starts at midday, includes a glass of Champagne and a 3-course meal. Tickets: £50.

Coworth Park, Ascot, dorchestercollection.com/coworthpark

 

The Vanishing Man, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Fri 10 Feb

This is my top tip for this week and for one night only, so hurry!  The Vanishing Man at Norden Farm is a show about magic (rather than a magic show – thought I’d make that clear in case you’re expecting David Blaine to show up). The play is based on the true story of Hugo Cedar, an Edwardian magician – the titular Vanishing Man – who created the perfect trick by disappearing in front of his audience… forever. Check out these credentials: it’s performed by Simon Evans, who is magical consultant to the NT, Old Vic and Donmar Warehouse, and two-time winner of the Close Up Magician of the Year award, and directed by David Aula, who directed Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden as the headline show at the Vault Festival. Quick, before it disappears in a puff of smoke. Tickets £12. You can see The Vanishing Man at New Greenham Arts in Newbury on 23 Feb.

Norden Farm Maidenhead, Norden.farm 

 

Star Wars Party, The Bowery District, Reading Fri 3 Feb

Dry January is behind you and it is time for some serious retox. If you’re looking for fun, there’s a party that promises to be out of this world right and you won’t need to venture to a galaxy far, far away. *Groan*. Despite the terrible Star Wars clichés, a Star Wars night is a) going to appeal to the other half, b) you can rock this cool Carrie Fisher look and c) raise a few glasses in her honour as style icon, feminist and all round legend. The Bowery District in Reading will transform the venue into the Empire with Darht Vadar on the decks. Expect themed decor and costumes. Entry £5.

The Bowery District, Reading,  thebowerydistrict.co.uk

 

Hockney At The Tate, Thurs 9 Feb

The Tate Britain’s major spring exhibition is well worth jumping on the train for: a comprehensive retrospective of British art giant David Hockney’s work. He’s now approaching 80, so there’s six decades’ worth of painting, drawing, print, photography and videos to enjoy, some of which have never been publicly exhibited. What better antidote to a grey February than gazing at gorgeously vibrant paintings of sun-dappled LA swimming pools? It runs 9 Feb to 29 May, and if you want to avoid the kiddie and tourist crowds, it’s worth noting the extended opening hours of 10pm on a Friday and 8pm on a Saturday. Tickets £17.70.

Tate Britain, London, tate.org.uk

 

No Britain Is An Island photographic exhibition, Greenwood House, Bracknell Fri 3 – Tues 7 Feb

Picture by Michael Murphy, Britain Is Not An Island exhibition

As we ride out the reverberations of Brexit and Trump’s presidency, it seems timely that the No Britain Is An Island, a touring photographic exhibition, should come to Bracknell. The images, taken by 19 top notch photographers, are a celebration of peoples’ stories, unspectacular places; the seaside bench on the pier, the old red phone box in town, the view from a hill and how these shared experiences of the ordinary unite our differences. Enjoy it as art, see how the pros do it, get some cues for you Insta account. It doesn’t have to be deep, cos it’s FREE.

The Photographic Angle, Greenwood House, Bracknell thephotographicangle.co.uk

 

Cirque Beserk, Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, Tues 14 & Weds 15 Feb

 

Clowns and trapeze artists are far too tame for audiences these days having been drip fed DANGER on BGT. What Simon Cowell wants, Simon gets – and it doesn’t get bigger or better than Zippos’ Cirque Beserk. After a sell-out run in London, this theatre-circus spectacular arrives at the Swan Theatre High Wycombe for a night of circus skills, death-defying stunts and its legendary motorcycle Globe of Death. It’s definitely worth leaping over the border for and I am assured the emergency services are on stand-by. Eek. Tickets from £13.50.
Swan Theatre, High Wycombe swanwycombe.co.uk 

 

The Hungry Caterpillar, Corn Exchange Newbury, Wed 15 Feb & Thurs 16 Feb

My experience of taking the mini Mudlet to the theatre usually ends in me drinking a bottle of wine to get over it. Wailing never again. It’s not easy. Getting toddlers to sit still and the endless trips to the loo, is not part of the script. That said, I persevere, because CBeebies and the *ahem* educational apps on the iPad does not really qualify as culture. But this does. The Hungry Caterpillar, a book much-loved by the Mudlets, is being staged for ages 2-7 at the Corn Exchange Newbury. At 55 minutes long, colourful puppets and Eric Carle’s familiar tale I’m thinking this might just be the one when I come home with that warm fuzzy feeling. I’ll make sure there is wine in the fridge… just in case. Tickets £10.50.

Corn Exchange Newbury, cornexchangenew.com

 

 

 

 

 

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Berkshire