What’s On: Muddy Herts Guide 4-10 Feb 2016
I’m feeling very lucky this week that we have so many great venues in the county — and that some world-class acts come to visit. Much as I love popping into London (and I do love it), there’s something brilliant about seeing amazing stuff closer to home. *sigh* Fabulous.
I Loved You and I Loved You, Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 5 Feb, 8pm
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Hemel’s Old Town Hall is a little gem of a venue. This time, they’re a stop on the touring programme of what sounds like a fascinating mix of theatre and dance, ‘I loved you and I loved you.’ It’s been touring nationally, with a wee stop at the Edinburgh Fringe, and is in Herts for one night and one night only. It sounds stunning. Choreographer Sally Marie brings to life Morfyyd Owen, one of Wales’ most celebrated classical composers in dance – exploring her turbulent relationships – including friendships with Ezra Pound and D. H. Lawrence, her astonishing rise to fame, and her death at just 26. All this is accompanied by a live score of her own music. If you want to catch it after this, you won’t be able to as this is the very last performance – but what a brilliant chance to see something that’s attracted such positively glowing critical attention closer to home.
Harry Potter Book Night, various local Waterstones, 4 Feb
Various branches of Waterstones around the county are getting all wizardy this week – with owls, brooms, wands, the lot. Let the sorting hat figure you out (I reckon I’d be a Hufflepuff), duel with other wizards, and enjoy all sorts of quizzes, treasure hunts, spells and so on. Sounds, er, enchanting…. Oh, and – of course – there’ll be dressing up.
St Albans, 6-8.30pm
We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, Radlett Centre, Radlett, 4 + 5 Feb
You remember this one? We can’t go round it, we can’t go under it, and all that…. Well, it’s heading to the stage – with lots of noise, loads of songs, and some hands-on bits. (Do you want to get hands on with a bear?) Fun one for the little ones.
De Havilland Philharmonic Orchestra: February Concert, Weston Auditorium, Hatfield, 7 Feb, 7.30pm
The de Havillan Philharmonic is getting all Russian this week – Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances and Shostakovich’s Symphony No.5 (fascinating fact: when it was first performed, the standing ovation was as long as the piece itself). Sounds like a jolly rousing evening .
Stephen K Amos: The Laughing Master, Radlett Centre, 5 Feb, 8pm
Stephen K Amos has been touring all over the country – and in Australia – and now he’s back with his new show. I’m quite enjoying his Life: An Idiot’s Guide on the radio, and that sort of observational chatting-to-the-audience humour can be quite good fun when it’s done right. The Radlett Centre is a neat venue too – small enough to feel like you’re right up there with the performers.
La Traviata: Royal Opera House Live Screening, Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre, 4 Feb, 6.45pm
I’ve only just discovered the Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre (thanks to my lovely friend Helen) and I’m quite excited about it. Perched on top of the library in a rather predictable red-brick building, there’s a lovely little theatre. Small enough to feel intimate, comfy seats, and a great schedule of live screenings from the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House and so on. This week’s offering is the glorious La Traviata – and it’s bound to be a winner.
Ed Byrne: Outside Looking In, Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage, 5 Feb, 8pm
Ed Byrne seems to be on the telly all the time, so it’s hard to believe that he’s got time to be out and touring. He’s in Stevenage this week, with a show that the critics have been chucking 5-star reviews and glowing praise at for a while now.
The Imitation Game, Club de Havilland, de Havilland Campus, University of Hertfordshire, 4 Feb, 5.30pm
I watched this film recently with my eldest and we both loved it (and had a bit of a blub). This free (yes, really – it’s one of the Equality Office’s LGBT Month events) screening is a great chance to catch it on a bigger screen, if you’ve not already, and Club de Havilland has a full food and drink menu, with 50% off food before 7pm and off drinks afterwards.
How the Koala Learnt to Hug, Rhodes Theatre, Bishop’s Storford, 5 Feb, 1pm & 6 Feb, 2pm
I do actually have a photo of me, as a much younger woman, hugging a koala — but I’ll spare you that (unless you ask nicely). This sounds very sweet – a musical adaptation of the Steven Lee’s book about giving the ones you love a great big hug (awww…). And Steven Lee will be there, signing books afterwards.
And if you can’t make it then or there, it’s on again at the Ark Theatre in Elstree later in the month.
The Dumb Waiter, Maltings Arts Theatre, St Albans, 6 & 11-13 Feb, 7.30pm
There’s nothing quite like Pinter – even having taught his plays in the past to bewildered undergraduates, I’m still quite fond of his darkly realist and simultaneously absurd writing. This one-act play is one of his best early pieces, with 2 hit men waiting for the details of their next job – with the dumb waiter inexplicably delivering food and messages to them as they wait.
Henry V, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 9 Feb, 8pm
Yes, you might have seen Henry V before – but this Merely Theatre production shakes up the whole story of the victory of Agincourt in a really interesting way. Both male and female actors play every part, and they switch around throughout. The two sides – English and French – are sporting football shirts so you can tell them apart. Sounds intriguing. And the early reviews are very enthusiastic – Merely Theatre has been called ‘the best Shakespeare company in London.” They’re also performing A Midsummer Night Dream at The Old Town Hall soon, and you get a 10% discount if you book both.
Festival Of Literature, Bishop’s Stortford College, 5-10 Feb
A whole week of literary goings-on is kicking off this weekend in Bishop’s Stortford. There’s lots happening for schools in the town, but there are open evening events too that are worth checking out. There are some serious names there, too – Frank Cotterell Boyce, Germaine Greer (she is so worth seeing), Arthur Smith, Sophie Hannah, Daljit Nagra, Saira Hamilton, all sorts.
Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966), Whitechapel Gallery, 29 Jan-15 May
This sounds like a really interesting multi-media exhibition with a huge range of more than 100 works covering 50 years showing the impact of computer and Internet technologies on artists from the mid-1960s to the present day.
Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse, Royal Academy of Arts, 30 Jan-20 April
Or if you prefer your art a little more old-school, how about a stroll through the garden starting with Monet and ending up with Matisse? With works, lots of which you’ll recognise, by Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Manet, Sargent, Kandinsky, Van Gogh, Matisse, Klimt and Klee in between.
Saul Leiter, Photographer’s Gallery, now-3 Apr
I had no idea who Saul Leiter was until recently, but I’m absolutely loving getting to know his work. He’s one of the early colour photographers, and his early work with Kodachrome colour slides was poo-poo’d by his contemporaries – but the images of New York in the 50s and 60s are stunning.