MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
THEATRE: SIX the Musical, The Oxford Playhouse, 24 Aug – 5 Sept
Divorced, beheaded, LIVE! Musical smash hit SIX tells the story of Henry VIII’s wives in an explosion of 21st century girl-power pop, and it’s coming to Oxford this month after selling out its previous UK tour (and the West End, and Sydney, and soon Chicago and Broadway…no big deal). Strap in for a fiercely good time.
Oooh, this is fab! I’ve been a couple of times with the kids and they absolutely loved it. Colourscape, on until 8 Aug at Waddesdon Manor, creates a labyrinth of space, music, and colour out of 56 interconnected chambers at the Aviary Glade – quite trippy, loads of fun and total IG fodder. You can also (while we’re chatting interactive garden art installations) still catch Tino Sehgal’s major solo exhibition at Blenheim Palace until 15 Aug. Involving 30 participants, this is a complex, roaming choreography that examines the transience of social interaction.
Over at the Banbury Museum, meanwhile, it’s all Rubik’s Cubes and Chopper bikes (I had both – and I was Rubiks cube champ at school, just saying) with its exhibition I Grew Up in the 80s, on until 3 October. A veritable explosion of childhood nostalgia, this memory-fest (complete with beloved but discontinued chocolate bars, gone but never forgotten) is a non-negotiable for anyone decrepid enough to remember the era.
It’s also worth noting a whole raft of cracking exhibitions that are still on show. MK Gallery‘s modernist architecture exhibition Memphis: Plastic Field (above, until Sept), New Liberia at the Modern Art Oxford (until 5 Sept), and Gustave Moreau: the fables at Waddesdon Manor (until 17 Oct). Waddesdon will also be showing its popular exhibition Nick Knight: Roses from my Garden until 31 Oct, while Imagining Fantastic Mr Fox at the Roald Dahl Museum is on until mid Sept. Whipsnade Zoo‘s immersive exhibition of life-size animatronic dinosaurs continues until 25 Sept, and the Ashmolean is showing its Tokyo: Art and Photography exhibit until 3 Jan. The Oxford Natural History Museum‘s ‘Meat The Future’ exhibit is also available to catch until 16 Jan.
Right, who fancies a laugh? Jericho Comedy is putting on two Open Air Comedy nights at The Oxford Artisan Distillery, Oxford, on 7 and 14 Aug, and they sound like a rip-roaring good time. Locally crafted artisan spirits, stand-ups from Oxford’s biggest comedy club… setting aside the potential for bad weather (no promises), where’s the downside?
A little later in the month, The Potters Arms in Amersham (a pub well-established in the A lister comedy circuit and much loved by Muddy) is putting on a three-day Comedy Festival for the bank holiday weekend (that’s the 27-29, if you’re not keeping track). The line up includes Russell Hicks, Lily Phillips, and Dom Holland who is really funny. — and, bizarrely, just happens to be Tom Holland’s (AKA literal Spiderman’s) dad!
What’s that we spy? Why, it’s a cracking month of thespian goodies, that’s what! Muster your spare change for tiny interval ice creams, because there’s a proper playbill on in Bucks and Oxon this August. First up: Creation Theatre is putting on two open-air shows early on in the month, starting with an immersive story trail production of The Wind in the Willows (above) in Sunnymead Meadow, Oxford, running everyday but Monday until 8 Aug. This charming reworking of Kenneth Grahame’s iconic classic involves a journey in small groups along the river bank, through the woods, encountering characters and adventures along the way, and possibly even glimpsing the grandeur of Toad Hall. (Can’t get enough of Ratty and Mole? There’s a different production of The Wind in the Willows on at Waddesdon Manor, 7 Aug. Cold chicken picnics all round.)
Creation Theatre is also showing its engaging, interactive family comedy Bicycle Boy at Cutteslowe Park, Oxford, 4-8 Aug. Involving song, lessons on sustainability, and lots of pedalling, this is a really cracking show aimed at 5-10 year olds.
Not quite your age group? Never fear: Oxford Castle & Prison‘s Oxford Shakespeare Festival is still going strong, with A Midsummer Night’s Dream continuing until 7 Aug, and Much Ado About Nothing on 9-21 Aug. Then, bask in even more of the Bard with the Immersion Theatre’s interpretation of Romeo & Juliet on 14 Aug, showing at Langley Country Park in South Bucks. That should do nicely for your next dinner party culture-off.
‘Alright,’ you say, ‘enough with the Shakespeare.’ We hear ya: what about a swash-buckling bit of Treasure Island with the Quantum Theatre, on at Waddesdon Manor, on 21 Aug? Alternatively, we can offer up a wholesome day with Folksy Theatre’s Little Red & The Big Bad Wolf at Millets Farm Centre, 25-26 Aug.
More, you say? Alright Oliver Twist. If you head to The Arches Theatre, near Olney, you can catch a whole bunch of even more shows: Hound of the Baskervilles (14 Aug), ABBA Sensation (20 Aug), Twelfth Night (21 Aug), Robin Hood (22 Aug), Jane Eyre (22 Aug), and Ripping Yarns (26-28 Aug). Phewph!
But honey, don’t throw in the theatre towel just yet. Dig out your silliest heels and slap on the glitter, because the beloved Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is in town at the Oxford New Theatre, 23-28 Aug. Marking the venue’s first time reopening since March 2020 (welcome back, friend), it promises a dazzling array of stunning costumes, feathers and (of course) a non-stop parade of dance-floor classics including It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, I Love The Nightlife, and Finally.
We’re loving Stonor Park’s reinvention this year, with so many new, exciting ventures. Here’s one that’s coming left field – Café Mambo Ibiza on 13 Aug brings together a star-studded line up of DJs to put on an evening of Ibiza classics and dance anthems in the beautiful South Oxfordshire countryside.
Not your scene? How about the Waterperry Opera Festival at the Waterperry Gardens, 12-21 Aug, promising ten days of beautiful, open-air opera performances. Titles include The Elixir of Love, Hansel & Gretel, and Peter and the Wolf.
Or catch ‘King of boogie woogie’ Jools Holland & his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra at Stonor Park, 14 Aug. On 20 Aug there’s also Jazz at the Manor at Waddesdon, with complimentary glass of Pimms, Prosecco, or soft drink. Bring along a picnic for an evening of summery jazz in beautiful grounds.
If you’re hankering after high culture, the Vache Baroque Festival is putting on Paradise & Pandemonium at The Vache, Chalfont St. Giles on 28 Aug, which involves dramatic readings from Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, woven into three Bach cantatas. Cultural boasting rights guaranteed.
Catch some outdoor cinema at a wide range of venues across the month, starting with Stubbings Nursery in Maidenhead: Bohemian Rhapsody (6 Aug) and The Greatest Showman Sing-a-long (7 Aug). Then, the ever-fabulous Luna Cinema Drive-In (above) is back on at Blenheim Palace for Star Wars: A New Hope (12 Aug), Bohemian Rhapsody (13 Aug), The Greatest Showman Sing-A-Long (14 Aug), and Some Like It Hot (15 Aug).
From 25-28 Aug, there’s also the Summer Screens Open Air Cinema at Millets Farm Centre: Dirty Dancing (25 Aug), Jurassic Park (26 Aug), The Greatest Showman (27 Aug), and In The Heights (28 Aug). And finally, pop corn addicts, Peterley Manor Farm is offering its Film on the Farm Nights, with Rocketman on 28 Aug and Pretty Woman on 29 Aug.
Right, onto the really important stuff: eating. You won’t want to miss pop-up restaurant The Lockdown Lodge at Hambledon Lock near Henley, on until 15 Aug. Stop by for a coffee, wolf down burgers and locally-sourced alcohol, or tuck into a 5-course tasting menu feast courtesy of chef Jimmy Garcia (don’t mind if we do!) from Wed-Sun.
There’s also great news for those of us who like to occasionally eat our own weight in cheese: Jericho Kitchen Raclette Nights are back at Stadhampton Village Hall from Sunday 1 Aug Then, later on in the month, Blenheim Palace has its annual (and excellent) Food Festival, 20-22 Aug. There are live demonstrations, artisan products to sample, family entertainments, and stall after stall of drool-worthy eats. Race you there.
Hey crafty foxes! Book yourself into a watercolour masterclass, featuring Michelin-rated Indian food (umm, yes please). Local artist Pooja Kapoor of The Petals Studio is putting on a ‘Paint-Sip-Lunch‘ at Hawkyns Restaurant in Amersham on 22 Aug, with drinks and a lunch of fine Indian cuisine provided by the team at Hawkyns. (Petition for this to become the standard for all art classes, please and thank you).
Then, on 27-30 Aug, Stonor Park is hosting the Henley Country Craft Show. Marquees and stalls bursting with handmade jewellery, homewares, clothes, and more, as well as a wide selection of artisan food and drink, all in picturesque landscaped surroundings. Sounds like a pretty solid day out to us.
KIDS & FAMILY
Win your child’s heart by booking them into a Summer Pony Day Experience at Horseywyse equine riding and learning centre, Long Crendon. Happening on various dates up until 3 Sept, this involves catching a pony in a field, learning to groom them and manage the stable, and learning to train and bond with the pony. If your kid likes horses, it’s a guaranteed success.
Then, as always, the Chiltern Open Air Museum is offering opportunities a-plenty to step back in time. First up, there are re-enactors evoking the 1690s on 7-8 Aug, explaining the different experiences of landowners and the serving class, dressed to the nines in period costume. You also won’t want to miss its 1940s party on 14-15 Aug, which comes complete with Lindy Hop dance lessons.
Over at Waddesdon Manor there’s a pop-up Festival of Children’s Literature on 19-22 Aug. A free summery showcase of children’s writers, illustrators and storytellers, this promises a whole bunch of readings, performances and activities for the family. (So: ample opportunity to convince the little ones that life doesn’t revolve around a screen).
There’s also family fun a-plenty across the Chiltern Hills from 1-8 Aug with The Chilterns Celebration. Sign up to walking tours, animal displays, and a day of wholesome activities at Wycombe Rye on 8 Aug.